The main idea in this article is what I keep in mind when planning English classes whether they’re face to face or online with Break Into English (http://englishclassviaskype.com/) the company I teach for when giving English lessons via Skype. As well as the obvious advantages of leaving class-time free for more productive things, this policy can also foment student independence. If you get into a habit of leading into the thing to do at home in one class and then using what they have learnt at home in the next class, it also naturally leads to more recycling of the language covered, making sure it isn’t just taught in one class and then forgotten.
Examples of things that can be done at home just as efficiently include:
- Checking homework answers
- Most detailed text reading (for example vocabulary questions and detailed oral comprehension questions)
- Actual reading (after doing the lead-in or introductions during the lesson)
- Almost all written activities (fill in the gaps, matching, and so on)
- Preparation for speaking and presentation tasks
- Several brainstorming activities
- Picture description: this is one of our favorite activities in our Skype English classes
I want to point out here that something that students can do at home doesn’t necessarily become something worth doing in class just by putting them into pairs. These activities are still better done at home unless they really benefit from listening to each other’s ideas.
There are very seldom times when you do need to do parts of the lesson that can be done at home, such as making sure students fully understand the grammar in order to get ready ready for the next activity.
Assigning things for homework can be taken one step further further by taking what I call a PPP (Presentation Practice Production) approach. At Break Into English we use this technique quite often in our Skype English classes. Don’t hesitate to try out our Trial Lesson at http://englishclassviaskype.com/trial-lesson/ to experience it first hand.
For grammar, the lesson is planned so that students finish an approach presentation of the new language at the end of class and so are perfectly set up to do written exercises regarding the same language points for homework. After checking their homework in the next class, students do controlled and then less controlled speaking practice on the same language point, which is then included in a presentation of the next language point if they are ready to move forward.