The underlying issue is something that is hinted at in JDH's answer, but not explicitly stated. So I'd like to state it.
The key is to decide what your homework is for. The big words are Formative and Summative. In short, formative assessment is designed to help you learn, summative assessment is designed to figure out what you've learnt.
The distinction is not clear cut, and I'm no expert so I won't pretend to be. In truth, all assessment is a mixture since unless we know what we have learnt, how can we figure out how to learn it better? And if we don't use the assessment of what we've learnt to find out more, what was the point in measuring it?
Nevertheless, we can broadly assign assessment to one of the two classes by its primary use. I suspect that the majority opinion would be that homeworks are for formative assessment. We only grade them to encourage students to do them, reasoning that if we don't give the students credit for doing them then they won't choose to do so of their own free will (but note quid's comment on the question!).
Unfortunately, this sends out the wrong message. By counting them as part of the final grade, the students view the homeworks as summative: a measure of what they have learnt, and therefore view them as something to achieve rather than as something to reflect upon.
Also unfortunately, the default assumption on students' part seems to be that all assessment is summative. This is because the majority are not aware of these nuances, and are more aware of the occasions where they have undergone summative assessment rather than formative (the latter being, by its nature, less stressful and more subtle, and so less noticeable).
Therefore it is not enough to simply say "Do the homework for your own good". You will need to set up a culture of reflection. Here are some broad guidelines. Again, I'm not an expert and have not implemented (all of) these myself.
If you must include a homework part in the overall assessment, make the bar as low as possible. Essentially, if they try the homework they should get the credit.
Use feedback from the homeworks in your teaching. Use the homeworks to find out what people found difficult and then go over that again in class time. Make it so that the students see the link between the information that they give you through the homeworks and the help that they get afterwards.
In my course, the rule is that they need 8 out of 12 homeworks "approved" to be able to take the final exam. Other than that, the homeworks don't count. Nevertheless, because we don't really do (2), a lot of students simply do the first 8 and then stop.
If you are often sat scratching your head trying to come up with DaDaABC homework assignment ideas for your online English student, then worry no more!
Here is a list of possible homework examples to keep your student improving and excited to share their progress in your next class together.
1) Pronunciation and Phonics – DaDaABC Homework Assignment Ideas
One that I mainly do is to take note of all of the words the student mispronounced throughout the class in the chat box, then after class, paste these words into the teacher report.
Then proceed to instruct them to break these words down into phonics for their homework.
For example, let’s say the student mispronounced ‘apple’, I would write it out like this:
2) Proper Nouns and Sentences – DaDaABC Homework Assignment Ideas
You can instruct the student to write a sentence using a proper noun that you learned in that class and advise them to make sure to use correct capitalisation.
3) Ask Mum and Dad About Their Job – DaDaABC Homework Assignment Ideas
You can set your DaDaABC student a task to ask their mum or dad about their job and tell them to be ready to tell you all about it for the next class.
4) Practice the Words for the Next Class – DaDaABC Homework Assignment Ideas
Tell your student to read the courseware ahead of the next class and to practice the key words ready for the next class.
5) Make a List of Objects That Are The Same Colour – DaDaABC Homework Assignment Ideas
Find out your student’s favourite colour and ask them to find 5 things that are all that colour!
6) Practice the Words Learned Today – DaDaABC Homework Assignment Ideas
You can also simply ask your online English student to practice the key words that were learned in the courseware that day.
7) Practice the Greeting Conversation – DaDaABC Homework Assignment Ideas
Ask your student to practice their answer for regular questions in the greeting conversation, such as ‘What classes did you have today at school?’
8) Questions to Ask Teacher – DaDaABC Homework Assignment Ideas
Ask your DaDaABC student to think of three questions they would like to ask you. Instruct them to ask them at random times throughout the next class.
9) Find an English Book To Read Out Loud – DaDaABC Homework Assignment Ideas
Ask your student to find an English book they have that they really like and tell them to find a passage that they would want to read out loud to you next time.
Whenever I have set this, the student is always really excited to share a book they love.
10) Link Your Student to Educational Resources – DaDaABC Homework Assignment Ideas
You can send an educational resource link to your student and ask them to memorise some of the verses if it is a song, or to generally practice what the resource teaches them, such as phonics or spelling.
Below is a list of resources:
‘We all go travelling by’ song:
Food and drink game:
A story to read:
A story to read:
An interactive comic with pronunciation:
A game to practice their English:
And There You Have 10 DaDaABC Homework Assignment Ideas!
So there is ten ideas for you to help you worry less about what to set for homework!
Just keep it relevant to what they are currently studying and appropriate to their ability level and everything will be fine.
If you have any more ideas for homework assignments, please feel free to share them with the DigiNo community in the comments below!
And you can also click the image below to read about a DaDaABC lesson plan activity involving a fun animation: