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Learning English: EAL / AMEP: Plagiarism

A library guide for students learning English.

A Note to International Students

When you study a foreign language (or English as an Additional Language) it is common to copy work from books and websites to learn expressions, words or idioms. You might also borrow CDs from the library to practice the pronunciation of words and sentences. Learning idioms or expressions by repeating them over and over is called “rote learning ”.

It is okay to do this for your personal studies when you are learning words, idioms and expressions. However, when you are handing in work for assessment to a teacher, particularly in mainstream courses, you are not allowed to copy material straight from other sources without referencing. If you do this, it is considered to be “plagiarism” and your teacher may ask you to do the assessment piece again or you may get a low mark or even fail the unit.

 If you borrow or use other people’s ideas or words in your assignments, essays, reports or other assessment pieces, you need to either:

  1. acknowledge (cite) your references in the text and in the Bibliography / References sections, using the Harvard method of referencing, or

  1. paraphrase and/or summarise the ideas of the author(s) or website in your own words and reference where it comes from.

When you are given a piece of work that will be marked and assessed as part of your course work, it is best to ask your teacher about the requirements regarding plagiarism. Generally, it is not allowed! However, if you are doing private study and just learning English expressions, words or idioms, it is acceptable to use rote learning as a study method like many of you have always done.