Reflecting upon my undergraduate education within the California State University system I have no recollection of any discussion of plagiaristic practices and how to avoid them. It seems a lot of educators in today’s society view such knowledge as an innate part of involvement within the world of academia. Simply being a native speaker of English educated within a Western academic context should not give way to the implication of understanding plagiarism and the appropriate writing practices imperative to it’s avoidance (Yamada, 2003). The word “plagiarism” when heard echoing through a classroom during the discussion of an upcoming research project automatically throws me into a state of panic. Sending visions of being pulled in front of an academic review board only to have its member’s direct accusation of intentionally stealing the thoughts of another racing through my mind. With the end result being a premature ejection from an academic career that has been a self-aspiration since childhood.
Students attending tertiary levels of education from periphery discourses when entering into a western classroom face the significant challenge of adherence to a system they know little or nothing about. Since all types of learning takes place within a specific social context: the classroom, the teacher, school culture, and that of the surrounding community, influences what goes into an individual’s written work. L2 learners coming from differing backgrounds and L1 learners alike may not possess or be aware of the systematic nuances required by Western styles of academic writing leaving them at a distinct disadvantage (Angelil-Carter, 2000 as cited in Yamada, 2003).
When individuals feel supported they excel, when there is vested interest the desire to learn is wide spread. Self-reflection has to occur or pedagogical practices and attitudes towards the L2 and L1 writers, who lack the necessary training within the discourse of Western academia, will not change. Only through a systemic practice of self-reflection upon ones own pedagogic practices can educators be confident that the rules set forth by Western academia will be properly adhered to in cohesion with the current theoretical knowledge within the field of applied linguistics (Hole & McEntee, 1999; Posteguillo & Palmer 2000).
Angelil-Carter, S. (2000). Stolen language? Plagiarism in writing. In Yamada, K. (Eds). (2003). What prevents ESL/EFL writers from avoiding plagiarism?: Analysis of 10 North-American college websites. System, Vol. 31, pp. 247-258.
Hole, S. & McEntree, G.H. (1999). Reflection is at the heart of practice. Educational Leadership, Vol. 56(8), pp. 34-37.
Posteguillo, S. & Palmer, J.C. (2000). Reflective teaching in EFL: Integrating theory and practice. TESL-EJ, Vol. 4(3), pp. CF 1-15.