Monday, 25 February 2013

Afrikaans Twitter

Our Afrikaans department are using Twitter to help their learners build vocabularly. Read all about it in the article posted in Die Burger.

Teaching Afrikaans in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town certainly has its challenges, as exposure to the language is so limited. The department likes to encourage parents to help their sons spend a bit more time with the language and to this end has opened theTwitter account, @afrpret. Every day from Monday to Friday, they add some new words and sample sentences.Follow them on Twitter - @afrpret- and encourage your children to engage with the words!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Whatsapp in Afrikaans

One of our Afrikaans teachers makes use of Whatsapp to have short bouts of communication about everyday life (in Afrikaans, of course). He has noticed that those who have the opportunity to converse in Afrikaans everyday improve significantly. Unfortunately the curriculum is too full to allow fully conversational classes. Email does not allow for quick conversations. Most of his class use Whatsapp and the learners are comfortable chatting to two or three people at the same time. Using their proferred communication means he has increaded the likelihood of a quick Afrikaans chat! He is initially experimenting with one class and has discussed the rules with them. Anyone who behaves inappropriately will be blocked!  So far so good!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Referencing and Plagiarism

We have been conducting lessons in the Resource Centre on Referencing and how to avoid plagiarism with some Grade 10 classes who are about to embark on a research project for one of their subjects. We have also been introducing them to tools that they can use to reference correctly.

Just mention the words referencing and plagiarism, and you can see your class zoning out immediately. How does one make this topic engaging and relevant to a group of teenagers? I am not sure one ever can. The bottom line however is that students have to know how to reference correctly and they have to understand the relevance and importance of avoiding plagiarism otherwise suffer the consequences. A mere rap on the knuckles sadly does not cut it these days, as students are more likely going to face expulsion and thereafter may even find it difficult to obtain acceptance into other tertiary institutions with that cloud hanging over them.

Many tertiary institutions in South Africa require their students to submit work on-line using software programs that check their work for plagiarism prior to submission. An example of such software is Turnitin. The software indicates the extent to which the work is plagiarised. Should this plagiarism percentage exceed a certain level (as predetermined by the institution), the student has to re-work the assignment and re-submit it again to be checked once again by the software. It can take up to 72 hours before feedback is provided to the student! This means that students have to ensure that they do not miss hand-in deadlines while attempting to re-submit work within the acceptable plagiarism norms. Forward planning and being proactive are key. Quite a rude awakening for many first year students!

One therefore cannot over-emphasise the importance of correct referencing and the severe consequences of plagiarism that are brought to bear on students in tertiary institutions. Schools are often criticised by Universities for sending out matriculants who are not sufficiently skilled in citing sources and using correct referencing techniques. Schools have a responsibility to ensure that their students are well trained in this practice. It should be second-nature to them by the time they leave school.

The Harvard Reference system is the one that is used by UCT, although some faculties may adopt other Referencing systems. We therefore teach our students to use this same referencing system.

The good news is that help is at hand, in the form of Referencing options in Microsoft Word. Here an author has the ability to add citations within their text and generate bibliographies automatically at the end of their assignment. They simply enter the correct information into the reference section such as the author, title, publisher, date of publication etc. and all the formatting and the generation of the bibliography is done for you.

Producing assignments within acceptable plagiarism norms, and with all the correct citations, references and bibliographies should be a 'walk in the park'!