EFFECTIVENESS OF HOMEWORK IN TEACHING ENGLISH TO THE LOWER GRADERS
1.1 General Background
When Junga Bahadur Rana returned from Great Britain in 1910 BS, he started teaching English language in Nepal. It was limited only imparting education in English to the children of Rana family only. However, the wave of education spread throughout the country with the advent of democracy in 2007BS. At present In Nepal English is taught as a compulsory subject from grade one to bachelor level.
Language is the most effective means of communication limited within the
human beings. It is learnt for the purpose of communication, and as an international language, English has a great communicating function. Thus, the foundation of English is made in primary level. Various studies show that English has been considered as difficult subject in Nepal, and students’ achievement in English is very poor. There are number of factors for it such as school facilities, teacher training, students’ home environment and nature of English curriculum and so on. One of them might be the homework because of its great impact on either facilitating or inhabiting students’ language acquisition.
Homework is a task which is done at home by the students out of normal schools hours. It is a term that many scholars have used but few have defined formally. Keith (1986, p. 32) defines homework as that work which teachers typically assign for completion outside the normal class period. Cooper (1989, p.7) further refines this definition as “‘Tasks which are assigned to students by school teachers . . . meant to be carried out during non-school hours,” and adds that students can have “options of completing homework during other times, such as study halls, library times or during subsequent classes”. While students may partially complete homework in school, it is assumed that most assigned work is completed at home. Homework benefits to students, parents and teachers also.
For example, practice homework increases speed and mastery of skills. Participation of students in homework increases involvement in the learning task. Likewise, personal development of students is enhanced by building student responsibility, time management and self-confidence. Homework can enhance parent-child communication on the importance of schoolwork and learning. Homework also fulfills policy directives from administrators who require a prescribed amount of homework per week. For purposes of this article, we define homework as academic work assigned in school that is designed to extend the practice of academic skills into other environments during non-school hours. Homework stresses the importance of student efforts as a means of programming for academic skill generalization. In other words, the natural extension of schoolwork from academic to nonacademic settings is an important feature of homework.
Ours is a multilingual, multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation, where we have classes with students of various castes, religions and so on. So, teaching English is a challenge for English teachers. On the opposite side of the argument, researchers such as Kohn (2006, p.15), makes a strong case against homework arguing that it marginalizes economically disadvantaged students who find it difficult to complete homework because of inequities in their home environments. He also asserts that teachers, in general, are not well trained in how to create effective homework assignments. So, teachers should be provided with the tools and knowledge necessary to create effective homework. Rather than asking whether or not homework improves learning, a better question is “How can homework be improved to be effective and successful?” By answering this question and creating effective homework assignments, the debate for and against homework becomes effective. When teachers design homework to meet specific purposes and goals, more students complete their homework and benefit from the results. In fact, when homework is properly utilized by teachers, it produces an effect on learning three times as large as the effect of socioeconomic status. It is noteworthy that the correlation between homework and achievement appears to be stronger. Many recent studies on homework have focused on outside influences such as parental involvement and after school programs. Specific homework designs such as TIPS, Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork have been developed to maintain the school to home connection (VanVoorhis, 2004). This study explored how student beliefs and attitudes influence the homework process. These findings benefited the faculty and administrators of schools striving to increase homework success.
Statement of the Problem
This is a study of the effectiveness of homework at grade six, which will be carried out to find out how does homework help to the learners to learn effectively and successfully. The main problem of English language teaching in Nepal is that learners do not do homework regularly that persists effective learning at school level. There is a complaint from the teachers regarding lack of learning due to incomplete work. The problem is also selected to find out whether or not the homework develops language skills, or how does homework help in language learning.
Rationale of the Study
I have chosen this topic to find out the effectiveness of homework in teaching English in lower level graders. So, the main reason of selecting this topic is to find out the effectiveness of homework in learning English at grade six in terms of English language teaching, error correction and providing constrictive feedback. In the language classroom homework is more important because language is at once the subject of study as well as the medium for learning. All the works given in the text book and required to be done can`t be completed within 45 minutes class as determined by curriculum. These activities must be done out of the school classes. Actually these works are done at home as homework. Effective learning and success is possible when learners do homework regularly. Teachers feel that students are not completing their homework. Teachers often speculate about the causes for this problem but do not take the time ask the students.
- Objectives of the Study
This study is based on following objectives:
- To find out the effectiveness of homework in teaching English.
- To find out the factors influencing the effectiveness of homework in learning English.
- To find out some advantages and drawbacks of homework.
- To suggest some pedagogical implications of the study.
- Research Questions
The questions for this study are to explore the homework phenomenon by answering the following questions:
- What reasons do students cite for not completing their homework?
- According to students, do teacher behaviors such as collecting and grading homework affect their rate of homework completion?
- According to students, how can teachers change their homework practices to encourage success from their students?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of homework?
- Significance of the Study
In course of language learning, homework is base and preliminary tool, which leads to the development of language kills i.e. listing, speaking, reading and writing. Learning develops through active participation of language learners regularly at school or at home. In this regard there is less or no exposure of English for the most of the students in Nepal. The rate of homework is an important factor that determines the achievement of students in language, which will determine their further learning. So, my study will be useful to the novice teachers who have just begun their teaching career. This study will equally be beneficial to the in – service teachers also because it is concerned with achievement and understanding content. Similarly, this study will be useful to curriculum designers, textbook writers and policy makers.
- Delimitations of the Study
The study has the following delimitations:
- There will be only lower secondary level English teacher for the study.
- There will be only one (Boarding) English school for the study.
- There will be “Brilliant Secondary English School“of Sunsari district only.
- There will be 40 students of grade six only.
- There will be guided homework only.
- Operational Definition of Key Terms
Homework -Assignments completed outside of the school day
Classroom – A place where teaching and learning takes place.
Interaction – Exchange of thoughts, ideas and feelings between two people.