Every teacher has been there. You’ve got sidelined with a grammar point, distracted by a topical conversation subject or simply planned too much for your class. The result is that your planned homework is no longer relevant to your lesson’s content. Of course, you also have those lessons where the focus doesn’t lend itself to homework and you need something to ‘drop-in’.
Fortunately, there are some homework activities that don’t need specific preparation during class time. Here are some ideas:
Writing is the skill that is most often neglected in class time. Students and teachers prefer classes to focus on communication which puts writing at the bottom of the bill. So, why not get your students writing for homework? You can relate the writing to something discussed in class, or simply ask them to produce a text on whatever they wish. Set a length or time limit and away you go!
Correct the mistakes
When you write down your student’s mistakes, make sure you write neatly! At the end of the class rather than doing an error correction slot, make copies of your mistake sheet and give to your students to correct for homework. Problem solved!
You can also keep a running list of your student’s most common mistakes. Put a list of 20 or so together and keep this for impromptu homework or a ‘drop-in’ class activity.
Prepare a short presentation
Business students especially, will do a fair amount of presenting. Any time is good time for practice! Set a short presentation preparation as homework, 5 minutes or so. You can link the presentation to something in class, brainstorm some topics or leave it up to the individual. For the presentations in the next class, try to introduce a competitive element. Assuming you’ve been studying presentation language in class, give one point for each phrase used correctly.
Look back at notes from previous classes
When your class has been running for a while, you’ll want to go back to some previous topics and do a bit of revision. You can put the responsibility for deciding what to revise onto the most qualified people – your students. Ask them to look at their notes and make a list of things (vocabulary, grammar points etc) that they are not sure about and would like to re-study. You can go through these in the next class, or plan a complete lesson.
Similar to the ‘free writing’, ask your students to read something in the news or whatever they want. You could ask them to bring the reading with them and develop this into a class activity, or make some notes and be ready to talk about their interesting text in the following lesson.
Bring something from work
In Berlin, most of your students are businesspeople and with work at the top of the English agenda, it’s always desirable to relate your classes to your student’s jobs. Ask them to bring in an email that they’ve sent recently, or a presentation they’ve given, or something else. You can go through these in the next class.