Thursday, 23 July 2009

Tryst with the Plagiarist

First I had better apologise for that toe-curling post title – sorry, couldn’t resist it. It has been jangling about in my head since this morning.

Right, well, as I said the other day, there’s this Saudi lady who is studying English with us, and she has handed in a perfect end-of-course assessed essay. It is grammatically, orthographically and stylistically so far in advance of her last effort only four weeks ago that nobody buys her line that it is her own unaided work, which it must be in order to pass. I mean, there’s admirable progress, and there’s divine intervention, and this would have to be an instance of the latter.

The lady, whom I shall call Khulud to protect the less than innocent, had her lines well rehearsed when she sat down today with her sceptical tutor to discuss her masterwork. She was able to say exactly what she meant by this phrase or that, and to account for the placing of a semi colon, a punctuation mark few foreign learners of any level make accurate use of, if they use it at all. ‘You know, Sharon,’ she said, ‘I listened to everything Steve [i.e., me] said on the last course, and I listened to everything you have told us on this course, and I have made really good progress thanks to you, and I am very pleased you are impressed with my essay.’

Right. Well. It is not the essay that impresses us, darling, so much as the sheer brass neck you are displaying in handing it in and claiming it as your own. We have ways… well, we thought we did. There is no sign of the essay or any of its component parts online, so it isn’t simply a question of brandishing an incriminating print-out at her. The only ruse anyone has managed to come up with so far is to announce an impromptu writing test for um… research purposes, which selected students including Khulud will be required to sit. Then we can compare her effort with the disputed essay, against which it will seem as holey as a worn out loofah.

We have learned from another member of Khulud’s group that a bloke has been hanging around the campus, buttonholing overseas students and making them offers. This is the deal: if you can get three fellow students to pay him to write their essays, he’ll chuck yours in for buck-she. This probably explains Khulud’s elegantly crafted piece, and any more that we might receive by the deadline tomorrow. I’m curious to know what the bloke charges. I certainly wouldn’t sell myself cheap if I were offering this service. I just wonder if there’s a money-back guarantee when the essays are rejected out of hand, as they will be. Otherwise he had better go into hiding. Poor sod – whatever he might be, he’s not an EFL teacher. If you are, you can to understand easy what wrote a student of intermediate, and what wrote a people who he has born in a country where it’s English speaking. Moreover furthermore on the other hand, the teachers, they didn’t borned yesterday. You better believe it.


Fionnchú said...

"Khulud" as in "collude"? Nice allusion. Disappointed to hear of her brazen kissing-up to you and Sharon for your stellar efforts, but that's a clever ruse of hers. I will be curious about the follow-up for "research purposes"; I know even in the much-distrusted world of "hybrid" teaching courses that final exams are required with photo i.d.'s and paper-tests proctored in person, to minimize such deceit. I do wonder in a future world of no classrooms and everyone in their pajamas taking online classes how such dodgy scams will be resisted by the vigilant guardians of standards.

vilges suola said...

Khulud / collude - very clever - it hadn't occurred to me! Actually, the lady's real name translates into English as 'spoiled' or 'indulged', which is appropriate.

As to the future, I hope I will have retired or changed fields before that scenario becomes reality.

Anonymous said...

I be waiting for the results of your esteemed researching plan, I bet they be many good. ESL teachers have natural present to find the sheeters.


vilges suola said...

Was no allow. The course leader decide for let this people pass, despite regardless of essay was writed by shitting. I thing than is bery bad, bud what I can do?

Anonymous said...

Shitting in class be bad to moral



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