Wednesday, October 18, 2006

subject and object questions

On the final exam I gave my Level 4 FroshEng class, I had this question:

Change the following statement into a SUBJECT QUESTION and an OBJECT QUESTION. (CORRECT GRAMMAR, PLEASE)

Larry ate twelve hot dogs last night.

Ideally, the students should say:

Who ate twelve hot dogs last night?
(subject question: "who" is asking after the subject)


What did Larry eat last night?
(object question: "what" is asking after the object)

One student wrote, as an object question:

What ate Larry last night?

This had me rolling. The image of twelve hot dogs attacking Larry as a pack was just too baroque.

Technically, the student's response is a subject question, as the unfortunate Larry has become the object of "ate." Too bad I can't award points for inadvertent humor.

On a more sour note-- I caught one of my Level 2 students cheating during the exam today. The class was doing a mixer-style test, and this student was using a previous quiz as a guide. I had passed out the quizzes at the beginning of class and had told the students to put them away along with their textbooks, cell phones, and electronic dictionaries, but this student had her quiz flush against her final exam sheet and was comparing her current answers with her quiz answers. I had changed the questions somewhat for the test, but the quiz still provided enough of a hint to a savvy student.

I docked the girl 50 points and told her she was lucky: in an ideal world I'd have ripped her paper to shreds and given her a zero. I also docked her participation grade. She'd been on her way to an easy "A," but now she ends the semester with a "D+." Funny thing is, I doubt she'll have learned anything about cheating; it's done so damn casually in this culture that she probably won't lose any sleep over her misdeed.

I'm thankful, though, that I was dealing with a Korean student: had I done the same thing with an American high schooler, I'd have had to put up with a theatrical display of bullshit denial and shameless belligerence. Having caught students cheating during my stint as a high school teacher in the States, I know whereof I speak.


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