Paraphrasing Techniques for Academic Writing (EAP)

A Few Notes on Teaching Paraphrasing

When I teach paraphrasing, I generally go over some techniques such as the list below. These techniques can provide students some tools to paraphrase successfully and avoid the overuse of quotations, or worse yet, plagiarism. Although these methods are especially useful to intermediate-level students, keep in mind that the best overall advice is to tell them to try to rewrite the idea into their own words. Some students can get too caught up in the game of changing from active to passive or finding obscure synonyms in the dictionary, and they forget that the best thing to do is ask themselves: What does this sentence mean? Can I rewrite it in my own words?

The chances are, if they are upper-intermediate or advanced students, then they may already be able to do this. Nevertheless, the below handout can be useful for students who don’t have the flexibility yet to paraphrase on their own.

Five Paraphrasing Techniques

(Handout download: paraphrasing-techniques-eap.docx)

 

Approximately 80% of low-income families will be assisted by the proposed ‘free lunch’ program. (Health Canada, 2015)

 

Techniques:

1. Use Synonyms

According to Health Canada, roughly 80% of poor families will be helped by the suggested ‘free lunch’ campaign.

 

2. Change from Active to Passive Voice

According to Health Canada, the suggested ‘free lunch’ campaign will help roughly 80% of poor families.

 

3. Change from Positive to Negative

According to Health Canada, only roughly twenty percent of poor families will not benefit from the program.

 

4. Change Word Forms

According to Health Canada, the suggested ‘free lunch’ campaign will provide assistance to roughly 80% of poor families.

 

5. Change the Order of Information

The suggested ‘free lunch’ campaign will provide assistance to roughly 80% of poor families according to Health Canada.

So, after using the aforementioned techniques we have gone from this quotation:

Approximately 80% of low-income families will be assisted by the proposed ‘free lunch’ program. (Health Canada, 2015)

to this paraphrased sentence:

The suggested ‘free lunch’ campaign will provide assistance to roughly 80% of poor families according to Health Canada.

 

  • Does the paraphrased sentence contain the same meaning as the original? Yes
  • Have we referenced the source of the information? Yes
  • Overall, have we avoided plagiarism by paraphrasing sufficiently? Yes

Then we have succeeded.

– Copyright Matthew Barton of Englishcurrent.com

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