The Role of Homework in Foreign Language Learning


  • Linda M. Wallinger

    1. Virginia Department of Education
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      Linda M. Wallinger (Ph.D., College of William and Mary) is Principal Specialist of Foreign Languages and ESL at the Virginia Department, Richmond, Virginia.


Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the role of homework in foreign language instruction and learning. The study was conducted through questionnaires, interviews, and quantitative analysis of the amount of homework that foreign language teachers assigned their students. Special attention was given to whether or not homework expectations varied according to the type of schedule that was used for instruction.

The study results indicated that foreign language teachers at all levels felt strongly that homework is essential to language teaching and learning. However, the quantity of homework expected in French 1 classes did not vary significantly according to the schedule used for instruction. Most teachers assigned homework as a means for students to practice material that had already been taught in class. Homework in lower-level classes consisted primarily of rote exercises, whereas homework assignments in upper-level classes allowed students to integrate and apply the language skills they were learning. However, few teachers did more than simply check that the home-work was done, placing little emphasis on whether or not the homework had been completed correctly. There was little evidence to indicate that homework either contributed to or detracted from the language-learning process.