Writing an Effective Paraphrase

    If a summary is written to present the essential ideas of an article, a paraphrase is a restatement and a restructuring of ideas for the purpose of clarifying the meaning of a text. Restatement means that you rephrase the original using your own words. However, you don’t just change some words in the material; you also need to change the flow of ideas in the effort to make the original meaning clearer. 

    As in writing a summary, you need to identify the source material that you’re paraphrasing and you have to use quotation marks when you copy from the original. That way you can’t be accused of plagiarism. 

    Let us see if you can identify which is an acceptable paraphrase of this excerpt from a speech by Dr. Victor Ordonez: 

    Dr. Victor Ordonez, in his speech, delivered on January 26, 2009, mentioned an experiment involving 50 schools in Michigan where arithmetic was taken by students starting only from Grade 5. After Grade 7, these students took the standard test in arithmetic. The test results showed that they performed as well as those who had been taking arithmetic since Grade 1, confirming research that had earlier established that children’s “aptitude for computational skills” develops much later than their “aptitude for linguistic skills.” One wonders then if those who had been taking arithmetic since Grade 1 wasted 40 minutes daily for four years.

    Children’s aptitude for computational skills is developed much later than their aptitude for linguistic skills. Yet in school an equal amount of time is given to the two skills at every level. In an experiment in Michigan involving 50 schools, arithmetic was offered only in Grades 5-7. When the students took the standard arithmetic tests, they fared equally well as the other students who had been taking arithmetic since Grade 1. So the question is asked if the other students wasted 40 minutes a day during the first four years.

    If your answer is Version 1, then you’re correct. Version 1 is acceptable because of the following reasons:

    1. It mentions the source of the passage. 
    2. It restructures and restates the original passage. 
    3. It uses different words and where words from the original are copied, quotation marks are used.

    Version 2, on the other hand, is not acceptable because: 1) It does not mention the source of the passage; 2) Although it changes some words of the original, it does not restructure the paragraph; and 3) It copies some phrases like “aptitude for computational skills” and “aptitude for linguistic skills” but doesn’t enclose them in quotation marks.

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