Students everywhere are famous for not doing homework. I very much understand that many English language students have a number of responsibilities outside of class and work, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing they would spend five or ten minutes a day on homework, especially given how much most of them pay for lessons; that small but regular amount can make a difference.
Checking homework when only two or three students have done it is like pulling teeth. You can spend a few minutes working on un-done homework during class, but that isn’t very fair to the students who have done it in their own time — now they are losing ten minutes of class time. Workbooks with answer keys are good because you can recommend exercises and if students have the time and desire they can do them and check on their own (and bring any questions to class).
I tend to give homework regularly — generally so that students who want extra practice can do it, and ideally something they can check on their own or hand in to me so we don’t have to spend class time going over it. Many students expect to have homework – yes, even if they don’t do it. Ever.
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One way to check homework which is just a bit more student-centered and also saves the teacher from selecting which student who hasn’t done the homework will answer next is this: you choose the first person who will answer, then after giving their answer, they choose the next student. That student gives the answer and chooses the next one.
I don’t like to go around the room in a circle because then students can just figure out which question they’ll have to answer and don’t necessarily need to pay attention. Sometimes, though, this is the quickest way. One option is to go around like this but give people the option of, if they don’t know, nominating someone else to answer in their place. It can be fun for students to give hard questions to each other — and it generally creates a much better atmosphere than if you do it.