Help your child with language homework

By Drum Digital
12 April 2014

Homework is a thorn in many parents’ side. Moms and dads who want to help their kids with language homework are often uncertain if what they learnt decades ago still applies.

I teach Afrikaans first additional language (FAL), which means my tips are more applicable to FAL learners (formerly known as second-language learners), but they’re also useful for home-language learners.

Here are a few useful tips regarding homework for parents:

  1. Most important of all: let your kids do their homework themselves – don’t do it for them or they won’t be able to use the content.
  2. Ensure you understand how the teacher explained the piece of work to the learners.
  3. First revise the rule. Let your child explain the method the teacher used. This enables you to see if your child understands the work.
  4. If they don’t understand, try to explain the work in a different way.
  5. If you struggle with the subject ask the teacher for advice.

There are various tips to help learners with different sections of their homework. This week we focus on the comprehension test, and next week creative writing.

How to help with comprehension tests

Let your child first read the entire piece, then the questions. Let them read the piece again. If the child hasn’t got a clue what the piece is about let them read the questions again.

  • See if you can spot the keyword in the question and look for the word in the piece.
  • When you get the answer highlight the keyword in the piece and write the question number next to it. Do this with all the questions.
  • When the learner gets to question 5 they usually realise the questions are asked chronologically according to the text. So if you’re struggling to find question 4’s answer but you know where the answers to questions 3 and 5 are you can accept question 4’s answer is between questions 3 and 5’s highlighted sections in the piece.
  • Very important: don’t look only at the keyword. Read the questions with whatever is written before and after the keyword(s). Learners shouldn’t blindly copy the entire paragraph or sentence.
  • Look at the task in the question: must the child write an answer in their own words or quote a word or phrase? If the task isn’t executed correctly the learners lose marks.
  • If your child struggles with vocabulary in a comprehension test let them write down all the problem words and look them up in a dictionary. (Use a dictionary for home-language learners and a bilingual dictionary for first additional language learners.)

In the next feature we have tips for parents to help their children with their creative writing.

-Marelize Swanepoel

Marelize Swanepoel has taught Afrikaans for eight years and teaches at Welridge Academy in Weltevreden Park, Johannesburg.

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