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ESL forum > Ask for help > plagiarised composition    

plagiarised composition


plagiarised composition
Hello!  It is the weekend and I am marking compositions.  I have a nameless composition here from one of my students.  I am not sure who submitted it yet, but I am almost certain it is plagiarized.  Have you ever seen this composition, supposedly written by my 7th grade ESL student (uncorrected!)--I can t find it on the internet:

It was the funniest of moments; it was the most dangerous of moments.  My sister and I were so bored we nearly died.

"Let s play with fire! suggested Kim.

We were home in the hall.  She had an orange cigarette lighter in her hands and curiosity in her eyes.

Winding lavatory paper around sticks we lit a thin wooden stick and touched it to our homemade torch.

Whoosh!  I couldn t believe how fast the tiny flame on the stick attacked the soft paper, then half my hand...

You get the idea!

Any suggestions on how to handle this if I don t find the source?

Thanks for reading and have a fabulous weekend!

21 Sep 2013      


Dear Chriss, I had a similar incident a few years ago. One of my students submitted an essay I knew he couldn t have written it in a million years. I translated random sentences in random order into our native language and during the next lesson I asked him to translate those sentences into English. After 10 minutes he admitted it was too difficult. At that point I told him those were the sentences from the essay he had submitted. I told him I didn t expect perfect essays but I expected the best HE could do. After the class one of his classmates admitted she had written the essay instead od him. I told her to help HIM write (by proofreading, underlining the mistakes, etc) and NOT write instead of him. This is how I handled the situation. All the best, Mattea

21 Sep 2013     


Hi Chris
I can t find it on the web either - the plagiarism tool says that it is original work but I would say not the original work of your Year 7 student. Pehaps it is from a recent novel or a short story submitted to a magazine.
It is written in American English, not the way an aveage year 7 Australian student would write unless they were brought up in an American English home and school environment.
If you do find out who submitted it you could ask them to explain certain aspects such as:
- the double meanining of My sister and I were so bored we nearly died
- the meaning of curiosity in her eyes
- the meaning of We were home in the hall
- the meaning of  Whoosh!
- etc
Also, ask them to explain the story to you and see if they use the same words

21 Sep 2013     


I googled it and couldn t find anything.  Maybe you could ask him/her to write another one during class time and then compare.  If it was plagiarized it will be obvious with the second writing.  Then you need to sit down with the student and talk about it.

21 Sep 2013     


Thanks everyone for your suggestions.  It s a good point that it s in American English--we are in Malaysia!  I realise who it is now based on process of elimination.  I will talk to him first and see what he says about it.  If he doesn t fess up I will ask him a few of the questions you suggest.  How I handle it will depend on him, really.  If he admits it I will have a chat with him like Mattea did with his student and then have him write another.  If not, I will give him an afternoon detention and have him write one there.  If it happens again I will take it further by calling his parents: armed with in-class and out-of-class writing samples of course!

Thanks again for your responses!  :-)

21 Sep 2013