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English Language Support: Paraphrasing - In your own words

Paraphrasing - In your own words

The foundation of all the work that you produce for your tutors, both spoken and written, is the synthesis and analysis of other people’s ideas. However, those ideas must be expressed in your own words i.e. you must paraphrase what you have read or heard and this involves a complex set of skills. In Paraphrasing - In your own words, we practice the techniques you can use to ensure that P = paraphrase, not plagiarism.


Important Information

  • Paraphrasing  - In your own words is a course consisting of 4 sessions.
  • Each session is 90 minutes long.
  • The course runs for four weeks
  • There are regular start dates each month.

Scroll down to find more information about each  session and its learning outcomes.                                                        




Next course starts

1 - When do you need to paraphrase?

As part of referencing correctly, the ability to paraphrase successfully is one of the language skills students most often quote as being difficult. In this session , we will establish exactly what is meant by 'paraphrasing well', identify the specific problems you currently have and devise an individual approach to developing improved skills in this area. 

In this session, you will:

  • consolidate a clear understanding of the conventions of paraphrasing.

  • consolidate a clear understanding of when it is appropriate to paraphrase (as opposed to summarise or quote) your sources.

  • evaluate your own current skill at paraphrasing.

2 - Techniques for better paraphrasing

Because paraphrasing depends heavily on you having a wide range of both vocabulary and grammar structures at your fingertips, developing this skill is one that runs in parallel with you developing as an English language user more generally. However, in the early stages there are some strategies that you can use to help you produce improved paraphrases. This session focuses on the most useful of these. 

In this session, you will:

  • explore the use of synonyms to paraphrase.

  • learn how to restructure sentences in paraphrasing. 

  • practise the use of the active and passive voices in paraphrasing.

3 - Practice, Practice, Practice

There is no substitute for practising a skill, however good  at it you may be. Having a clear idea of what constitutes 'good' is also essential, as is the willingness to evaluate your own work and that of others in order to constantly improve. It is this process of critical analysis in relation  to developing paraphrasing skills that we will practise in this session. 

In this session, you will:

  • agree on a set of criteria for evaluating paraphrases.

  • apply the strategies practised last week to source texts from your own discipline and of your own choice.

  • use the agreed criteria to peer evaluate practice paraphrases.

  • update your individual learning plan in response to this session.

4 - The final test

Paraphrasing is a complex and demanding skill that takes a great deal of time and effort to master. At the beginning of this short course you produced a set of individual objectives. It is now time to decide if you have met them and to plan a productive, independent, future direction. This session will help you do just that by giving you the opportunity to test what you have learnt during the classes. 

In this session, you will:

  • assess your own progress by means of a test exercise. 

  • compare your work with that of a model answer for self evaluation.

  • practise writing a request for targeted feedback based on your self evaluation of your test performance.

  • practise updating and refining your study plan.