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by Erica Fischer on Oct 23, 2017

Assigning Homework in a World Language Classroom

Assigning Homework in a World Language ClassroomDo students benefit from doing homework? In their September 14 chat, #Langchat teachers discussed how to get the most out of assigning homework for World Language students.

Reasons to Assign Homework

#Langchat teachers shared some of the reasons they assign homework for their world language students. @MmeFarab shared, “these days, homework [is given] to finish something outside of class, or to practice AP skills at home!” Many teachers prefer to assign homework by choice, while others assign homework based on school requirements and outside expectations. @MlleSulewski said, “Well normally I wouldn’t choose to [assign homework] but I am now required to give HW. I only see my see my students 3x a week, so have to make up the difference.” @EspanolTeacher shared, “I choose homework to help students retain vocabulary.” Homework can be given for a variety of reasons. According to @brewake192, “most homework is for practice BUT my favorite homework helps my students interact with the target language in their own community and build excitement for learning.”

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Types of Homework

Contrary to what students may believe, homework can serve a multitude of purposes in a World Language Classroom. @SECottrell shared, “I ask students to preview the next week’s vocab, answer questions about novel chapter read in class, and do a listening activity.” @SraMcNeilly said, “[I] don’t give much, but one culminating writing, speaking or vocab assignment per unit. Try to get creative with technology!” Homework can be given to provide extra practice or prepare for the next day in class, like in a flipped classroom model. “I like to give them opportunities to listen to TL music, watch TL TV/movies,” shared @MlleSulewski. @Campspan “often gives [students] choices- Duolingo, listen to music, watch Univisión, Flipgrid or use Google Voice.”

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Using Homework Assignments to Move Forward in Class

#Langchat teachers agree that one benefit to giving students homework is that it can provide content for future classroom topics and lessons. #Langchat participants shared their strategies:

  • @MartinaBex explained, “If students write stories for homework (even if optional) you can use it for all sorts of goodness in class!”
  • @srtamartino suggested “use homework for self-reflection and monitoring progress the next day…granted that they all do it.”
  • @brewake192 said, “have [students] create comic strips and display as a gallery in class for all to read. So fun! All [students] create, read and speak.”
  • @KrisClimer shared, “HW bridges yesterday with today. Big objectives and Essay questions are the raison d’être and bow on top.”

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Language Homework that reaches the Broader Community

“Another ‘homework’ is service learning outside of the school day in the target language in the community” (@rlgrandis). Designing homework that encourages practice and use of the target language outside the classroom is what many #langchat teachers strive for. @SraWilliams3 said, “I try to suggest things like attend community culture fair, church mass in Spanish, try new foods, and cook with family.” @ShannonRRuiz shared, “I have students research community needs for [target language] resources (e.g. Food bank menu translations) and plan to solve it.” From kindergarten through elementary, middle, and high school, pen pal or e-pal activities are a fabulous use of homework time. @EriktCJ shared that they are “trying pen pals this year to [increase] contact.”  (With a quarter of a million participants, the Edmodo foreign languages group is a first stop for finding language exchange partners.)

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Student Expectations Outside of the Classroom

Besides homework, are there any other expectations for students outside of the classroom? #Langchat participants said yes!

  • @ShannonRRuiz expects students to “spend time with the language. 15-20 min per night every night”
  • @MmeFarab shared, “The expectation is they study/review as needed, but the reality is that they probably won’t. I try not to stress about it.”
  • @SraMcQ said, “If students are having fun in Spanish class & you hook them w/music, etc., they’ll engage on their own outside of class!”

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Thank You

A special thank you to all those who participated in this discussion! Thank you to our lead moderator Elizabeth (@SraDentlinger) for her dedication and leadership in the discussion on Assigning Homework in a World Language Classroom. Want to chat about a topic? Head over to our #langchat wiki to suggest a topic!
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Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.

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