Homework Correction

by Sophia McMillan
(Shane Training Centre, Japan)

These are just a few ideas of how to make whole-class correction of homework more of an active challenge.

• Give learners a chance to compare their answers in pairs. They can then correct / change / complete their own answers before a whole class check.
• Take names out of a hat to nominate who will answer (make sure this is done in a ‘fun’ way, explaining they have an opportunity to PASS if they want).
• Use a ball nominate who gets to give their answer to questions. Whoever gets the ball throws it to the next learner. Again, give them an opportunity to pass if necessary.
• Alternate between asking for answers to be volunteered and calling on specific learners to answer questions.
• Pre-prepare a grid that includes the question numbers for the various exercises that are to be corrected. Leave a space next to each question number. At the beginning of the lesson, get learners to put their name down to answer the various questions. Tell them that, even if they did not do the homework they can still try to answer a question of their choice but do not force them to put their names down. Use the list to call on learners to answer the questions in turn.
• Vary the order in which exercises are corrected
• Change the time of the lesson in which homework is corrected. Most learners expect homework corrections to come right at the beginning of a lesson.
• Provide mini keys of individual exercises to distribute to pairs. Learners then take it in turns to ‘play the teacher’ and check each other’s answers. Remember to provide an opportunity for the discussion of problem areas at the end of the pair-work session or at the end of the lesson.
• Spot check on lexis by occasionally eliciting synonyms/ antonyms/ similar expressions/ analogous idioms of items taken from the exercises being corrected.
• Create a multiple choice answer key for a few exercises where three possible answers to each question are provided, only one of which is correct. Learners then compare their own answers with the alternatives given, then choose the answer that they consider correct.

Make sure lots of praise and encouragement is given for answers that are even partly correct and, where possible, give positive feedback for areas that are not necessarily the focus of the exercise (such as good pronunciation in the case of grammatical errors or wrong answers in comprehension exercises).

Remember: learners quickly tune in to the mood of their teacher. If the teacher presents homework correction as a valid and interesting part of the learning process it will be infectious and homework corrections need never be boring again!

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