Monday, October 29, 2007

Briefly: Plagiarism, Shaoxing Phonology, and Grading

I. A great discussion of plagiarism in ESL and EFL contexts. Sage advice from Paul Stables:
...the best way to help undergraduate students avoid plagiarism is to set assignments that are not plagiarism friendly. Very specific essay questions rather than vague general term papers can help the student to approach the original source material from a particular angle which assists with the selection of material to be included and excluded.

II. If I actually knew anything about linguistics (or Chinese), I'd be devouring this PhD dissertation by Zhang Jisheng, which is a comprehensive analysis of the sounds which comprise the language spoken by most of my neighbors. As it is, I'm just skipping the phonology stuff (90% of the paper) and reading interesting trivia about the language. Apparently, Shaoxinghua has influenced some Japanese and Cantonese words -- and it has eight tones, compared to the four tones of Putonghua (Mandarin). I'll post any other interesting tidbits. Also, I considered changing the name of this blog and my field of study to "Totally Not Real Linguistics" or "Pretend Linguistics."

III. I may have alluded to this before, but as a rule, Chinese universities place a huge emphasis on final exams at the expense of any other classwork. My students' final exam is required to constitute 80% of their grade in my class, while participation, attendance, and all other homework must only account for 20%. As a result, I've discovered that I'm giving way too much homework, which is a problem because a) the students don't take it seriously and b) it's boring as hell to grade 180 notebooks of grammar and sentence structure exercises. So, I'm planning to emphasize in-class writing activities much more during the rest of the semester -- so they can practice the skills they'll need for the final (and, more importantly to me, beyond the final).

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