Wednesday, May 25, 2011


In my English classes we do a mixture of in-class tests and take-home exercises. I have one student who clearly (more clearly than anyone else) has a person as home who speaks English very well and does these exercises for her. For example, this is a sentence from one of her tests: “the buying local products impact country is rice, mangos” and this is a sentence from a take-home exercise: “Now the hospital is working directly with the government.” Last week I pulled her aside and told her that I know she has somebody else do her homework for her and the fact is that I can’t do anything to stop her from doing that, but she will never learn if she continues to do this and next year when she has to take the national English exam, she will fail because she hasn’t learned anything. I expected her to protest in denial immediately, but instead she got a look on her face that made me think she might actually stop this practice. I don’t really know what to do though. When it’s obvious the students just copied from each other, I underline the identical passages and give them zeroes. But I don’t know what to do in her case. I am positive that many of my other students are cheating, but I wouldn’t know because the people they are cheating from don’t speak such amazing English, so there is no way I can punish her for that. And honestly, as least she is trying—that’s a lot more than I can say for many of my students. But how to I convince her that it’s in her best interest to get lower grades and learn in the process? Or do I just focus on what I can control?

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