• Inspirational English

Let's talk HOMEWORK

Updated: May 2

Let's talk ESL homework

Today’s post is inspired by the true story "NO EXCUSES", which I read a couple of days ago. As a young teacher, Jennie Ivey got fed up with the ridiculous reasons, that her pupils came up with for not completing their homework on time, so she ended up accepting only one excuse- a verifiable death in the family. You can easily guess that Jennie was not the most favourite teacher at her school at that time. But things changed when she had to learn a very important life lesson, which came from one of the students in her class. Anthony was a boy who often turned up without his homework done until one day he decided to share that the only reason this happened was because he had to look after his siblings while his mum was waiting tables in the evenings.

This very confession was a real eye-opener for the teacher who decided to make changes and introduced an after-school study where students could do their homework in peace. Interestingly enough, gradually this afternoon session filled up with more and more pupils who came from various distressed families. Very soon Jennie realised that not all students come from safe and loving environments and most importantly she learned to listen to her students.

So what lessons have you learned from your students?

Do you listen to them?

Are you aware of their problems?

I know that most of my students come from very competitive families. The pressure from their parents and teachers disempowers and demotivates them. I listen and know that their least favourite word is HOMEWORK so I am very careful what assignments I give.

We have read about the teachers in Finland who keep the homework to a minimum and that’s what I also do. I make sure that my tasks are fun and meaningful. My young learners usually receive a video activity based around a cartoon such as Franklin, Postman Pat, Paddington bear… and they love it. Their parents see that they are still practising English but while having fun. One of my new students’ parents contacted me recently to say that her son CAN’T WAIT to do his English homework now. BINGO!

Another animation that I use with some of my students is WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA, which is a great way to help learners think critically about different themes. The CBeebies series could spark a nice discussion as well.

Here’s an exercise that I sent to a student for homework this week. The episode is about Kindness and I prepared a few questions based around the video and added an extra one to make the pupil think about his acts of kindness.


Watch the video and answer the questions:

  1. What does it mean to be KIND?

  2. What is kindness?

  3. What can’t Yeti find?

  4. What do you get when you are kind to someone?

  5. Should we be kind even if we don’t get anything back?

  6. Describe an occasion when you gave away something.



  1. It’s like being sweet to the cat.

  2. Kindness is helping someone who’s had an accident; protecting people who can’t look after themselves or being nice, expressing love to your family and friends

  3. He can’t find his friend, the ballerina.

  4. You feel happy when you help someone. Also, you can make new friends. People are kind back to you, too.

  5. Certainly.

  6. Students’ own answers

What do you usually assign for homework?

Share an interesting TV series, that you use with your students,

in the COMMENT box below.


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Have a relaxing weekend,

Marusya Price

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