SLW & CALL Perspectives, Volume 1:1 (March 2009)

by User Not Found | 10/28/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • From the Editors
  • Articles
    • In Other Words
    • For Students, By Students: Creating Wikis to Promote Integrity in Academic Writing and Citation
    • The Pedagogical Frustrations of Machine Translations: “Vain Areas Without Shape”
    • Plagiarism and Adult School TESOL Programs: Classroom Experiences
    • Interview With Maggie Sokolik: Defining and Addressing Plagiarism
    • Finding Your Own Words

Leadership Updates From the Editors

Suzan Stamper, CALLIS Newsletter Editor, stampers@iupui.edu; Margi Wald, SLWIS Newsletter Coeditor, mwald@berkeley.edu; and Catherine Smith, SLWIS CALL Column Editor, catherinesmith@troy.edu

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the SLW-CALL InterSection newsletter.

At annual TESOL conventions, special sessions called InterSections "highlight topics of relevance to and across interest sections, providing a collaborative forum for attendees seeking innovative and cross-disciplinary approaches and solutions." At TESOL 2008, Second Language Writing (SLW), English as a Foreign Language (EFL), and Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) Interest Sections collaborated on an InterSection titled "Paradigms of Plagiarism" that focused on various perceptions of and problems with plagiarism.

SLW and CALL decided to continue this discussion in a new format—an InterSection newsletter. In this issue, "Perspectives on Plagiarism," four articles focus on machine translations, wikis, adult student projects, paraphrasing skills, and useful Web sites. This issue also contains an interview and list of online resources that further the discussion of the complexities of plagiarism.

We hope that our members, and other interested readers within TESOL, will enjoy this edition of our InterSection newsletter and our celebration of second language writing and computer-assisted language-learning connections.


Articles In Other Words

Vivienne M.L.O. Jones, NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology), Edmonton, Canada, vivienne.jones@ualberta.net

During six consecutive semesters of teaching academic SLW, I have found that instances of plagiarism tend to fall into three categories. One category that is often mentioned is a lack of understanding of cultural norms. Another category is the misuse of citations, quotations, and references. A third category is an apparent difficulty students have with putting into words what it is they want to say. Students understand what we want them to do, and know theoretically how to do it, but, regardless of country of origin or previous academic experience, they seem unable to effectively use one of the best writing tools: paraphrasing. 
Paraphrasing and Problems With Plagiarism

Unfortunately, paraphrasing is difficult. Information needs to be knitted into the fabric of an academic text in such a way that the import remains the same, but the words used to report the information are substantially different from the words used in the source. Native speakers often have problems understanding exactly how much information can be used, or how many words can be used, before they are accused of plagiarism. There are no exact standards, and without a clear model or procedure to follow, native speakers and nonnative speakers alike are lost.

Various paraphrasing strategies are suggested in textbooks:  use of different word forms; use of synonyms; change in the order of information; change of voice; use of different conjunctions, transitions, or sentence combinations; and change in sentence structure (Engaging Writing, 2005; Learning English for Academic Purposes, 2005). The point is always made that two or more strategies should be used in combination:  one paraphrasing strategy on its own almost inevitably leads to plagiarism. A close examination of these strategies (Engaging Writing, 2005, pp. 224–226) shows that no matter what combination is used, one must always use synonyms or synonymous phrases. In order to paraphrase, students need other words.

Paraphrasing and Problems With Inferencing or Language Teaching Method
Another facet of paraphrasing that is often overlooked is the use of inference (Hyland, 2001; Yamada, 2003). Learners need to understand everything they are reading (often on a topic they have not studied before), tie this information together with their general knowledge and world view, and come up with new patterns of language. It is not easy, and my students often miss information or go too far with their inferences; they get it wrong, and they lose heart. 
The lack of paraphrasing ability and the fallback on copying could be a product of the way language is taught. In some methods, early stages of language learning focus on repetition and the memorization of chunks of language. Also, learners may copy examples from the textbook and change very little. Later on, they may write opinion essays, but they are not expected to back their arguments with fact. Furthermore, TOEFL and similar tests ask only for glibness, not true inference. However, when learners are in an academic SLW class, they are often expected to be creative with words but to keep their facts and opinions within the narrow conventions of academic writing. The change from interactive creative writing of lower levels to informative expository writing of academic classes requires careful scaffolding throughout the levels of curriculum. 
Paraphrasing and Solution Strategies With a Scaffolded Curriculum
My approach to teaching academic writing has three parts:  1) foster an understanding of the culture and principles of research and citation; 2) scaffold the skills needed to use citations; and 3) provide adequate practice in writing strategies that students need. Underpinning this three-part procedure is one simple command:  read. I ask my students in high-level academic writing classes to go to the easy reader section of our library and read all of the graded readers, starting from level one and working their way up. I believe that the exposure to standard, well-edited English will help their grammar and style in a way that looking at exercises (which are usually out of context) will not.  I also believe that extensive reading increases their vocabulary range and depth, inferencing ability, and reading speed (Bamford & Day, 1997; Nation, 1997; Nuttall, 1996). 
This is the teaching schedule I use in an academic writing course to cover three curricular elements:  1) research principles, 2) citation mechanics, and 3) writing strategies.  It is one I have worked on for six semesters, and I refine it every time I run the class. 

Concluding Remarks

A short-term solution to the problem of plagiarism in student texts is probably an acceptance of imperfect paraphrasing that borders on plagiarism. Instructors may elect to set shorter research reports because of the extra time it takes students to read and synthesize. I also find that I spend a lot of class time on individual writing feedback and exercises in inference, synonyms, and citations. A long-term solution is attention to register and style language patterns, along with the promotion of reading and synonym acquisition at all levels of second language learning. All good writers read, and if we want students to become good writers, they have to read a lot, read well, read good writing, and, eventually, read the language register or genre that they are expected to produce. Although SLW students can learn the mechanics and principles of citation, it is difficult for them to apply this knowledge without exposure or practice of these conventions in the language contexts (i.e., registers or genres) they will be expected to produce.  In other words, language input needs to match output expectations.


Bamford, J., & Day, R. (1997). Extensive reading: What is it? Why bother? The Language Teacher 21, 5. Retrieved April 3, 2006, from http://jalt-publications.org/tlt/files/97/may/extensive.html

Hyland, F. (2001). Dealing with plagiarism when giving feedback. ELT Journal, 55, 375-381.

Nation, P. (1997). The language learning benefits of extensive reading. The Language Teacher 21, 5. Retrieved April 3, 2006, from http://jalt-publications.org/tlt/files/97/may/benefits.html

Nuttall, C. (1996). Teaching reading skills in a foreign language. Oxford, England: Heinemann.

Yamada, K. (2003). What prevents ESL/EFL writers from avoiding plagiarism?: Analyses of 10 North-American college websites. System, 31, 247-258.

Textbook Resources

Fitzpatrick, M. (2005). Engaging writing: Paragraphs and essays. White Plains, NY: Pearson Education.

Williams, J. (2005). Learning English for academic purposes. Saint-Laurent, Quebec: Pearson Longman ESL.

Online Resources

Meriam Library, California State University. (n.d.). Evaluating information - Applying the CRAAP test. Retrieved August 29, 2008, fromhttp://www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/evalsites.html

Searls, J. (2004). KnightCite. Retrieved August 29, 2008, from http://www.calvin.edu/library/knightcite/

Vivienne Jones, a graduate of the University of Alberta TESL program, is currently teaching ESL at NAIT, with a focus on vocabulary acquisition and academic writing. She is also a cartoonist/illustrator.

For Students, By Students: Creating Wikis to Promote Integrity in Academic Writing and Citation

Soo Hyon Kim, Michigan State University, USA, kimsoo16@msu.edu

One of the most important skills students need to acquire in academic writing is accurately incorporating outside sources into their own texts. This, however, is also one of the most difficult skills to learn as well as teach because of the different assumptions about plagiarism that English language learners bring to class, in addition to their relative unfamiliarity with the academic conventions of citation.

The workshop described in this article was designed to address the chronic problem of plagiarism by raising students’ awareness about what plagiarism is and how they can avoid it through the use of accurate citation. Students produced a wiki about different citation systems used in various academic fields, and then presented the wiki to peers in other ESL classes in an offline mini-conference.

Plagiarism: A Perplexing Problem
Student writers plagiarize for different reasons. Whereas some may deliberately plagiarize because of their lack of motivation to generate original text, others may do so unintentionally because of their insufficient awareness as to what plagiarism is. Students who lack explicit knowledge of the academic conventions of citation, as well as those who hold different concepts of plagiarism because of cultural differences, may also inadvertently plagiarize (e.g., Sowden, 2005).

From my own teaching experience, it seems that among various sources of trouble, misconceptions about plagiarism, in addition to the lack of explicit knowledge of accurate citation, cause the most difficulty for students. For example, I found that a surprising number of students mistakenly think that whether borrowing text is considered plagiarism or not largely depends on the number of consecutive words taken verbatim from the original source. Some students even swear by nonexistent rules such as “the magic number eight (or nine, or ten?)” as to how many words are permissible.

When considering this astounding lack of awareness regarding plagiarism on the part of students, it is important that educators proactively and pedagogically respond to it, rather than focus on detecting and penalizing it post-hoc (Pecorari, 2008). A couple of ways to deter unsuspecting students from plagiarism is to equip them with the means to sufficiently summarize, paraphrase, and quote outside sources, and also to help them learn the conventions of citation so they can accurately give credit where needed. The following is a description of a workshop designed to do so by having students collaboratively produce a wiki on different documentation systems used in various academic fields.

The English language learners who participated in the Academic Integrity Workshop described here were international graduate students, enrolled in an ESL writing class designed to help them attain the level of academic writing required for their studies. Students typically read and discussed articles on a variety of topics, and learned how to integrate these outside sources into academic papers by means of analyzing, synthesizing, and summarizing.

The Academic Integrity Workshop
One of the challenges in teaching acceptable uses of outside sources in this particular learning context was that the students came from various academic fields, ranging from chemical engineering to Spanish literature. The Academic Integrity Workshop was held to meet these students’ individual needs to learn the conventions of their particular academic fields, as well as to raise their overall awareness about plagiarism. The workshop consisted of two major components: (a) online construction of the wiki and (b) offline presentation of the wiki.

Creating a Collaborative Wiki
A wiki, as Leuf and Cunningham (2001) defined it, is a “freely expandable collection of interlinked web pages, a hypertext system for storing and modifying information—a database, where each page is easily edited by any user with a forms-capable Web browser client” (p. 14). A more simple way to think of it would be seeing it as comparable to one of today’s best known wikis, Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org), an online encyclopedia that all users can freely view and edit. Teachers and students can create wikis just like Wikipedia, using publicly accessible wiki farms that provide users with ready-to-use templates for wiki pages. Some examples include Peanut Butter Wiki (http://pbwiki.com), Socialtext (http://www.socialtext.com), Wetpaint (http://www.wetpaint.com), and Wikia (http://www.wikia.com/wiki/Wikia).

For the Academic Integrity Workshop, students formed groups according to the citation system they use in their academic field, such as APA, MLA, and Chicago, and collaboratively created wiki pages using PBwiki. The content of the collaborative wiki was not only about basic ways to avoid plagiarism such as paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting, but also about the nuts and bolts of citing sources in their particular fields of study. The following section briefly outlines each stage in collaboratively building a wiki for teachers who may want to try their own version of the wiki workshop.

Stage 1: Preparation
During the preparation stage, the collaborative wiki can be used to help students build background knowledge on plagiarism and citation before starting the actual construction of their individual wiki pages. For example, discussion questions can be posted along with news articles or short video clips that report on cases in which plagiarism brought about serious consequences. Also, the wiki can serve as a useful tool for the teacher to communicate the major goals and objectives of the workshop as well as expectations, procedures, and group logistics.

At this stage, the collaborative wiki is used as (a) a class discussion forum on plagiarism and citation and (b) for student group formation and organization.

Stage 2: Building a Collaborative Wiki
Next, each group of students creates a wiki page within the larger class wiki. The wiki serves as a site where the information that each group member posts is aggregated and synthesized. Because the wiki page always reflects the most recent changes, the group members are able to work together efficiently, while the teacher is also able to monitor the progress of each group. Also, to add a more interactive component, the class can create a Q&A page in the wiki, on which students in other ESL classes can post questions.

At this stage the collaborative wiki serves as (a) a depository for each group to compile material needed for the workshop (most of the writing and editing occurs at this stage); (b) an overall frame that connects each group’s individual wiki page; (c) a means for the teacher to monitor progress and provide feedback; and (d) a medium for communication between the presenting groups and the audience (via a Q&A page in the wiki).

Stage 3: Workshop Presentation
When the online wiki is completed, an offline mini-conference is organized. Each group sits at a booth that showcases their wiki page and presents their work to peers who are invited from other ESL classes. The short presentation sessions are followed by interactive Q&A sessions, quizzes for the audience, and feedback sessions on the presentations given.
At this stage, the collaborative wiki provides (a) an efficient means to present material (PBwiki enables students to convert wiki pages into slide shows) and (b) a stimulus for discussion during offline interaction with the audience (the Q&A page).

Stage 4: Maintenance & Ongoing Participation
After the offline mini-conference, students update their wiki pages based on the feedback they received from their audience and can also add any new information. This wiki site can be maintained and updated regularly, and can serve as a resource page or handbook that students can refer to throughout the semester.

At this final stage, the collaborative wiki allows students to (a) incorporate feedback to improve/update the wiki; (b) summarize and post answers to the Q&A page; and (c) refer to the wiki as a resource page.

Throughout these stages, the wiki in this Academic Integrity Workshop serves multiple purposes. Not only is it used in the process of preparing for the workshop, but it becomes the final product of the workshop, and also serves as a mediator of online and offline class activities and interaction. 

Practical Suggestions
The following are some practical tips that can help teachers successfully incorporate the use of wikis in a workshop similar to the one described above:

  • Introduce the wiki early on and maintain it throughout the semester.
  • Establish a shared set of rules/etiquettes regarding posting and editing content in the collaborative wiki.
  • Emphasize the collaborative nature of the wiki by creating pages such as “who we are” that introduce the class members.
  • Create a “sandbox” page where students can experiment with posting and editing.
  • Regularly monitor student activity and provide feedback.
  • Use class time for face-to-face discussions based on issues related to the wiki rather than for the actual editing of wiki pages.

    Future Developments

    The workshop described in this article is just one of the many ways that teachers can help heighten students’ awareness about plagiarism and encourage the learning of accurate citation. Teachers can easily adapt the workshop to encourage a more inductive way for students to learn how to use outside sources. For example, rather than having students post factual information on the wiki about different citation styles, teachers can ask students to post authentic texts from their academic fields, and then work through the text together with the purpose of describing and analyzing how citations were used.


    It may be ironic that a wiki on the Internet—the most common source of plagiarism—was used in this workshop to combat plagiarism. However, when carefully planned and implemented, collaboratively building a wiki on the Internet can (a) promote a sense of ownership and achievement among students; (b) raise student motivation because of the wiki’s potential to reach a vast, authentic audience through the Internet; (c) enable teachers to achieve a good balance between control and learner autonomy; and (d) extend students’ collaborative learning experience outside the walls of the classroom and promote a sense of community.


    Leuf, B., & Cunningham, W. (2001). The wiki way: Quick collaboration on the Web. Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley Longman Publishing Co.
    Pecorari, D. (2008). Plagiarism, patchwriting and source use: Best practice in the composition classroom. In P. Friedrich (Ed.), Teaching academic writing (pp. 222-242). London: Continuum.
    Sowden, C. (2005). Plagiarism and the culture of multilingual students in higher education abroad. ELT Journal, 59, 226–233.

    Soo Hyon Kim is a PhD student in second language studies at Michigan State University. She has previously taught ESL academic writing, and has also worked as a writing center consultant. Her current areas of interest include second language acquisition, second language writing, and computer-assisted language learning.

    The Pedagogical Frustrations of Machine Translations: “Vain Areas Without Shape”

    Harry W. Harris, Jr., Hakuoh University, Japan, harrywharris@hotmail.com

    God the heaven and area was created in 1 beginning. 2 areas were vain without shape, stopping was a chart of the deep water, spirit of God had covered the chart of the water. 3 God were called “optical that”. When it does, there was a light. 4 God did were done looking at the light, well and with. God was divided with the light and the stopping. 5 God named light the noon, could name stopping the night. It was evening, in addition was morning. It is first day. (Yahoo! Babel Fish, http://babelfish.yahoo.com/translate_txt, accessed Aug. 10, 2008). [1]

    Stop! Don’t toss this paper aside in frustration, concluding that its author has submitted it without taking the time to proofread it. The passage you see above is a Yahoo! Babel Fish machine translation (MT) of a Japanese version of the first five lines of Genesis (WordPlanet, n.d.). The feelings of frustration that you may have because of the unintelligibility of the passage quite possibly match those I often experience whenever my second language (SL) writing students submit MT-suspect assignments showing similar patterns of incoherence. That frustration is palpable because the students are asked not to submit MTs of their work (or those of others, which is plagiarism) because this will detract from their learning experience. That frustration is real because it means that these students have not engaged themselves in the SL writing process, which is unfair to other students who have faithfully done so, and that I, the teacher, will have to determine whether the submitted work is indeed a MT or just text exhibiting SL-learner issues.

    Now, it is important to point out here that not all MTs give, or need give, cause for polemics. After all, as Hutchins pointed out, “[p]rofessional translators, translation agencies and smaller companies prefer computer-based translation tools” (2007, p. 222), undoubtedly because they help speed up and economize on translation costs. In many contexts, it is faster and cheaper to input foreign-language text into an MT site and edit the product afterward. As well, a growing number of Internet users have a need to “find out general background information and/or specific data” (Hutchins, 2007, p. 225) from foreign language sources, which they can do when quality is not important, with free online translation sites such as Babel Fish, Google Translator, and Free Online Language Translation. Japan-based, this writer knows of companies that use such services because they do not always have at hand the staff with the English skills necessary to provide a quick and confident translation of text from the Internet or elsewhere. In effect, the technology is there; it is often free; and there is no convincing reason not to use it when, aware of its limitations, you skim or scan for ideas or data that serve your private or business purposes.

    However, though there may indeed be instances when an SL teacher’s objectives allow for the use of MTs as learning tools, such as with information-collecting, editing, or other activities, it is pedagogically difficult to justify teacher acceptance of MT submissions of student assignments in the SL classroom if the objective is acquisition of English writing skills. Most SL educators and others who have followed developments in the field are aware of the shift from product to process that Vivian Zamel introduced to SL education in 1976. Though there have been additions to and modifications of this shift—for instance, we know now that writing also has sociocultural parameters—writing is still viewed as a cognitive process with a recursive nature that students can learn by participation in activities that encourage them to develop their ability to generate, collect, and organize ideas and that require that they write multiple drafts of assignments, after which they receive feedback in some form.

    It must be obvious, therefore, that SL students who turn in MTs for their assignments are not meaningfully engaging themselves in this writing process and are not learning much of what many SL educators have come to understand it teaches, except, possibly, editing skills—if they have taken the initiative to rework their machine-translated text. Of course, students may write an assignment in L1, from which they may improve their native-language writing and cognitive skills, and then machine-translate it. However, though these students are certainly engaged in a writing process, it is not the same as the one that would allow them to learn to manipulate the distinctive writing conventions and morphosyntactic, lexemic, and rhetorical forms that learning to write in a second language can entail. They should be discouraged from submitting machine-translated assignments in their SL writing classes because they learn less.

    Now, as ESL/EFL teachers, what can we do in an era when free technology provides our students who may be unaware of its limitations with such a simple solution to writing homework demands? As intimated above, I tell students at the beginning of the semester that MTs are not acceptable. In simple language, I explain the concept, educational consequences, and poor-quality translation issue at about the same time as I explain plagiarism, and I give students an L1 copy of text machine-translated from English, which I ask them to “correct.” Five to ten minutes into this exercise, when students begin to look dazed and start to mumble, I ask why I have asked them to do it and usually someone will mention “machine translation.” I confirm the response and reaffirm that MTs are problematic and unproductive in terms of our writing class objectives and ask students not to submit them. We then continue with other class matters.

    Generally, in the beginning, students heed my caution, but sometimes, later in the semester, I begin to receive student papers with the tell-tale linguistic signs that they may be MTs. Now I am in a dilemma because I know that many of my students are challenged by English-structure issues. I also know that the quality of MT language can depend on the MT site used as well as on such factors in the original L1 text as sentence length and complexity. In effect, I am not sure whether the student submissions reflect the language issues they may have or whether they have indeed written their work out in L1 and then machine-translated it. If the problems are due to language issues, then my job is to work with students on these; if they are due to MT use, then I must return their papers with a lecture, asking the students to redo their assignment. At any rate, somehow, I must determine the source of the textual problems in order to determine my responses to them, so I take up the matter in our next scheduled student/teacher conferences.

    Most of the time, these conferences are fruitful. When I sit down with a student whose work is in front of us, I first say something encouraging about the topic. Then, I refer to general organizational and grammar issues and, at some point, offhandedly remark that the student, of course, has not submitted an MT. Usually, if the student has done so, this statement has the desired effect. The student will admit to it, and I will give my lecture and ask the student to redo the work. There are rare times, however, when the student will deny MT use and, regardless of my doubts, with no absolute proof, I am left with no alternative but to ask the student to explain such problematic issues in the paper as “areas were vain without shape.” Most often, for whatever reason, the student does not respond, so, because some of these language issues are often incomprehensible, I ask the student to take the paper home and rework it. This the student does, usually bringing back work radically altered, without sign that it has been machine translated. The issue has been solved, and the source of frustration has been removed, for the time being.

    Machine-translated assignments can be pedagogically frustrating in the SL writing class because, when they are not part of the methodology, they indicate that students are not engaged in the dynamics of SL writing education as many SL professionals may understand it. They also demand a teacher response that is nonaccusatory but successful in encouraging the students to abandon future submission of MTs in SL writing classes. This takes tact and understanding. After all, our students, let’s remember, do often lead busy lives and they can be tempted to take shortcuts with the free technology now so readily available from many global sites. However, until and unless we have a different understanding of the nature of the SL-writing learning process, let’s continue to encourage our SL students to avoid MT submissions so that they can learn better and so that we see no more “vain areas without shape.”



    Hutchins, J. (2007). Machine translation in Europe and North America: Brief account of current status and future prospects. Japlo Year Book, pp. 222-227. Retrieved August 11, 2008, from http://www.japio.or.jp/00yearbook/files/2007book/07_4_03.pdf

    WordPlanet. (n.d.) Genesis. In The holy Bible (Japanese). Retrieved August 10, 2008, from http://www.wordplanet.org/jp/01/1.htm

    Zamel, V. (1976). Teaching composition in the ESL classroom: What we can learn from research in the teaching of English. TESOL Quarterly, 10(1), 67-76.

    Harry Harris, who has an MA in applied linguistic and one in Spanish linguistics, has taught ESL/EFL and Spanish at academic institutions in South America, Asia, and the United States. At present, he is a faculty member at Hakuoh University in Tochigi, Japan, where he works with curriculum development and has set up the writing component of the new English program. He also participates in teacher-training workshops, writes materials for publishing companies, and is a long-term interviewer for STEP.

    Plagiarism and Adult School TESOL Programs: Classroom Experiences

    Patricia Loftus Lee, Alameda Adult School, Alameda, California, USA, Loftlee@aol.com

    I am of the firm conviction that it is never too late, nor too early, to discuss plagiarism with students. And adult school students are often overlooked when it comes to plagiarism discussions. Many of them don’t realize that copying entire phrases, sentences, and paragraphs are a serious offense within the American academic community. What is even more interesting is that many of them don’t know why it is a problem. And last, I have often overheard teachers complain about their students’ use of plagiarism and then just continue to be frustrated without any attempt to teach to the problem.

    Should we be concerned about plagiarism at the adult school level? Yes, we should be very concerned. Many of our students plan on going from our adult school classrooms to local junior and community colleges as well as traditional four-year programs. I believe that we, as teachers, have an ethical and cultural responsibility to teach our students about plagiarism. If they don’t know about it, we should teach them. It’s as simple as that. Many of them are not even aware that there is such a thing as plagiarism, let alone know what to do about it. How are they going to learn?

    The Internet and Preteaching
    How do we begin to solve the problem of plagiarism? As you know, a wealth of information on plagiarism is available on the Internet. One of the better user-friendly sites is The Owl at Purdue University http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/01/. It is an easy way to introduce students to serious Internet research, while at the same time instill in them ideas and general concepts about plagiarism.

    Many students believe they do not have the ability to create interesting and informative essays using their own personal experiences. However, when they are provided with the opportunity to use their own perspectives, they become empowered with the wealth of knowledge they already have in their possession.

    The process begins by preteaching how to read for facts and general information. Then students are taught about paraphrasing and notetaking. They then talk about their findings, write summaries (only in their words), and then develop their personal ideas into their own unique essay. Not only are they using reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills to their best ability, but they are also being empowered to become self-directed learners and to be creative.

    In my classroom, I have discovered that once students have obtained general information about their topic that the very best tool they have is their own voice. They are given the opportunity, in either pairs or triads, to relate their immediate findings and thoughts. They are not to worry about the accuracy of the content, nor the context; they just need to orally relate what they have learned to their group members.

    Then time is allowed so that each student in the group may ask questions or get clarification from what he or she just heard from the presenter. Allow plenty of time! This often leads to lively discussions and excellent questions, and enhances the perspective of the presenter during this prewriting phase.

    In Their Own Words and Only Words They Understand
    Once oral presentations have concluded, each student writes a draft of his or her topic. The key to this early writing phase is to establish parameters for the “size” of the essay. Depending on whether it is the beginning or end of the school year, or whether they are beginning-low or advanced students, they can be given appropriate expectations. For example, at the very beginning of the year advanced students should be able to successfully complete one well-written, five-sentence paragraph.

    They are not to worry about language, spelling, or grammar at this point; they are just to put onto paper what they would like to say. And most important, they are to use only words that they know. This, I believe, is where plagiarism thrives. Students become so concerned that they will not “get it right” that they fall back on copying what they have read someplace else, often believing that other resources are superior to what they can create themselves.

    Next is the editing phase. They can self-edit by using dictionaries or other texts to correct language, spelling, and grammar errors to the best of their ability. After the self-edit phase, they again work with their group members. They trade papers with one another and proceed to review the writing of each group member. As we know, often it is easier to see the mistakes of others than our own. We learn from our experiences.

    The papers are then returned to their owners and the student is expected to write a final draft.

    Final Presentations 
    Once the editing phase has been completed, students then present their essays to the rest of the class. This is an excellent opportunity for students to practice their public speaking skills. I am continually amazed at the caliber of these presentations.

    Presenting students are empowered with their own words and ideas. Listening students are enthralled with whatever topic they are listening to or learning about. I am continually surprised at the levels of support that students give to one another during this phase. Everyone seems to take joy in their fellow students’ accomplishments.

    Plagiarism. Who needs it? Not adult school TESOL students!

    In Conclusion
    This process takes considerable preplanning and preparation. For example, in light of the nature of adult school attendance, modular units can be developed. I am consistently surprised at how attendance increases when we are specifically working on these personal projects.

    For those of us who have the luxury of time as with 3-hour classes, short programs can be created for one session. This process can be used for all learning levels and is especially appropriate for intermediate low through advanced levels. The rewards are plentiful for students and instructors.

    The advances from the beginning of the year to year’s end are extraordinary. Often, students move from just reading their essays to the class to developing sophisticated presentations. For example, I had many students who either made their own posters or incorporated other audiovisual materials into their presentations, or developed highly creative professional-quality presentations using their computer skills.

    Patricia Loftus Lee, MA, MPA, teaches advanced-level students at the Alameda Adult School in Alameda, California. She believes in the importance of the integration of American culture and academic English into the TESOL classroom. And, above all, she believes in the empowerment of students as the result of intelligent and well-developed adult school experiences.


    Interview With Maggie Sokolik: Defining and Addressing Plagiarism

    Maggie Sokolik, Materials Writer and Director of the Technical Communication Program, College of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, USA,sokolik@berkeley.edu

    What range of variation have you seen in definitions of plagiarism?

    I am more concerned with the lack of variation in its definitions. Typically, we see it defined as “presenting someone else’s work as one’s own.” Codes of conduct and ethics may then go on to elaborate on what “someone else’s work” includes, such as opinions, theories, statistics, ideas, and actual words. However, what they often fail to say is that most academic writing is the artful repackaging of others’ ideas and words in a way that preserves authorial voice. And therefore students are confused. It’s easy to say “don’t cut and paste from the Internet” or “don’t buy an essay from a paper mill,” but these are fairly extreme cases (which is not to say they don’t happen). The standard definition fails students by not helping them understand complex, cultural concepts like “common knowledge” or “literary allusion,” which, when misinterpreted, may lead to plagiarism.

    What role, if any, have computers played in expanding opportunities for or in complicating definitions of plagiarism?

    I think there are two ways in which this has happened: first, information on web pages is often misleading in that there is unclear attribution, or no attribution at all. Combine that with a general zeitgeist that “stuff on the Internet is free,” and it becomes even more baffling for students. Take, for example, YouTube—not the homemade videos people post, but the clips from TV shows and films that are found there, a practice that seems to be tolerated by many producers of these TV shows and films in the name of marketing. YouTube further facilitates an individual user’s ability to repost that material on another Web site by providing the code to do so. In other words, if it’s okay for YouTube to post a Daily Show clip, and then it’s okay for me to put that clip on my Web site, where is the definition of “someone else’s work” in this?

    A further example: A student in one of my classes submitted a paper, and a rather interesting sentence leaped out at me as not being typical of the student’s writing. The rest of the paper was fine—it was just one unattributed sentence. So, I went to the Internet and searched for the suspicious sentence. It appeared about 50 times in different documents, but none of them put it in quotation marks or attributed it. I don’t think the student was intentionally plagiarizing—with 50 exemplars of that sentence, who was its author? Did it fall into the category of a typical “saying” or some kind of common knowledge or literary allusion? (Not one that I recognized, by the way.) As a new writer and nonnative speaker, the student may have been in the dark about it. When questioned, she couldn’t recall where it came from. She happily revised it with her own ideas.

    Second, I think instructors unintentionally muddy the definition of plagiarism by “repurposing” materials for classroom use without full attribution. We are the best models students will have for good academic practice—but then some teachers photocopy without citing sources, grab things off the Internet for class use, and lecture without tying ideas into a greater body of work. This all silently hints that there’s a great deal of inconsistency in the application of the rules of plagiarism. Why should it be different for students?

    When dealing with plagiarism issues, what is one indispensable tool or webpage?

    #1. Getting to know your students. Know their writing, know their interests, and get involved with them academically. Above all, this will make it easier to spot passages that don’t seem to come from the student’s own ideas and voice.

    #2. A search engine.

    What area would you like to see developed and/or researched in this area?

    There is a lot of interesting work in cross-cultural dimensions of plagiarism. However, a lot of it doesn’t go far enough, and most of it is aimed at helping instructors understand why students plagiarize. I would like to see more information written to help students—beyond simple “rules” and “don’t do this or you’ll get expelled” kinds of approaches. I’ve never, for example, seen a good, cross-cultural explanation of common knowledge. Native speakers mostly know it when they see it (kind of like the article system), but for a nonnative speaker working in an academic environment, nothing might seem like common knowledge. Or, a student might fear it’s all common knowledge and that somehow he or she doesn’t know as much as others do.

    In a sentence, what advice would you give to teachers/students to prevent plagiarism?

    Work on your assignments.

    It may not be possible to make them cheat- or plagiarism-proof, but a little thought can make plagiarizing more work than it’s worth. If you create assignments that are too controversial or personal, students may plagiarize to avoid writing what they don’t want to express in a classroom environment. If your assignments are ones that have been given hundreds of times before, students will easily find information online or elsewhere.

    Maggie Sokolik received her PhD in applied linguistics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is the author of several ESL and composition textbooks. She is currently director of the Technical Communication Program in the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Finding Your Own Words

    Suzan Stamper, CALLIS Newsletter Editor, stampers@iupui.edu

    While working at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, I developed an “in your own words” exercise using the bulletin board feature in an online course management system (WebCT). At the beginning of a class period, I posted a short passage from the university’s undergraduate student handbook on the bulletin board. The passage was typically selected from the sections explaining academic integrity and students’ responsibilities. After reading the passage, my students received instructions to rewrite the information “in their own words” in a reply posting. A few minutes later, when reading these bulletin board postings as a class, we often saw repetition of phrases, if not complete sentences. Sometimes postings were identical or nearly indistinguishable from others. If I did a search for a key phrase from the handbook, I might find multiple repeats in the students’ postings. It was at times even humorous to see the same phrase over and over and over within the class bulletin board postings. After this warm-up, I started my lesson about paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting. At the end of the lesson, we returned to the bulletin board. Students read the handbook passage again and took notes. They reorganized the key words and ideas in various sentence patterns before posting for a second time. Students’ second postings were more successfully written “in their own words.”

    I think this simple exercise is one example of a “perspective of plagiarism” in computer-assisted language learning and second language writing. Below, I’ve collected some Web sites (from the United States, Canada, Australia, England, and Hong Kong) that offer other perspectives—some innovative, humorous, interactive, and thought-provoking. I hope, as you browse these links, that you enjoy discovering some new resources and finding inspiration to create your own online teaching materials.


    “How to Recognize Plagiarism” tutorial from the Indiana University Bloomington School of Education at http://www.indiana.edu/~istd/.
    (The Web site includes a printable confirmation certificate for passing a test about recognizing plagiarism.)

    “Avoiding Plagiarism” from the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/01/

    “Guide to Plagiarism and Cyber-Plagiarism” from the University of Alberta Libraries at http://www.library.ualberta.ca/guides/plagiarism

    Plagiarism.org at http://www.plagiarism.org

    “How to Avoid Plagiarism: An Online Tutorial” from the Paul Robeson Library at Rutgers University athttp://library.camden.rutgers.edu/EducationalModule/Plagiarism/
    (“What is plagiarism?” is a humorous parody of a U.S. class in the 1950s.)

    “Plagiarism: Don’t Do It” on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC2ew6qLa8U
    (In this clip, a video of a male plagiarism victim is accompanied by the female voice of the plagiarist. The combination effectively demonstrates what it means to use another person’s words.)

    “Academic Honesty: The Art of Paraphrasing” from the Graduate Student Instructor Teaching and Resource Center at the University of California, Berkeley.http://gsi.berkeley.edu/resources/honesty/paraphrasing.html
    (Links to interactive exercises on paraphrasing)

    The “Avoiding Plagiarism” tutorial from The University of Technology Sydney athttp://datasearch.uts.edu.au/teachlearn/avoidingplagiarism/tutorial/quoting.cfm
    (This URL goes directly to an exercise on quoting.)

    The “Plagiarism and How To Avoid It” tutorial by David Gardner at the University of Hong Kong at http://ec.hku.hk/plagiarism/self_test.asp
    (This URL goes directly to a self-test section.)

    “Plagiarism?  It’s Your Call!” from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College at http://www.nwtc.edu/Library/SearchPath/mod6/05-paraphrasing.html
    (This URL goes directly to an exercise on identification.)

    “Plagiarism Tutorial: How to Avoid Plagiarism” from the University of Maryland at http://www.umuc.edu/ewc/tutorial/start.shtml
    (The tutorial can be viewed in HTML or Flash.)

    “Don’t Cheat Yourself” from the University of Leicester’s Student Learning Centre athttp://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ssds/slc/resources/writing/plagiarism/plagiarism-tutorial
    (These tutorials are organized by various majors.)

    “Honesty in Academic Work: A Guide for Students and Teachers” from The Chinese University of Hong Kong athttp://www.cuhk.edu.hk/policy/academichonesty/index.htm 
    (This Web site includes information for syllabi and student declaration forms for assignments.)

    “The Academic Integrity Project” at The University of California, Davis

    If you have more suggestions to add to the list, please contact me directly at stampers@iupui.edu.

    Suzan Stamper was an instructor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong from 1997 to 2005. She is currently the vice president of INTESOL (the Indiana TESOL affiliate), the CALLIS newsletter editor, and a lecturer at Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis in the English for Academic Purposes Program.