Marking Papers and Having Fun


As some of you know, I teach English in a French high school so this time of year is always devoted to marking exam papers. After three years of high school, French students take the baccalauréat, an exam which marks the end of their secondary education and allows them to go to university if they wish to.

Because of the importance of this exam, we mark papers which are anonymous and come from a different area than the one where we teach. Not all English exams are the same; it depends how significant English is in their curriculum. In other words students for whom languages are important get longer and more complex texts and questions.

This year I have been asked to mark papers for a stream where English carries very little weight but who have been studying it for at least seven years. The text they had to read was an extract from The Promised Land by Sarfraz Manzoor. It relates how a teenager, whose parents forbade him to go to the cinema, discovered it at the age of fourteen and how The Breakfast Club made him wish to spend a year in the USA.

After some straightforward questions, where the students were expected to show their understanding of the text, they were supposed to write in English. Unfortunately, apart from a few notable exceptions, what I read was rather horrendous considering the amount of time these students had spent in English classrooms. Sometimes it was also quite funny.

1) Imagine his father finds him (the narrator) outside the cinema. Write the dialogue (80 words).
2) Is there a film that has particularly impressed you? Relate and say why (120 words)

Here are a few gems found in the essays:

Question 1:
– Hello, what did you doing ear?
– You should doing to very important stud.
– I would go to the cinema witch watch Rocky.

Question 2:
– I was always on cinema, one day for week.
– This film touch my hearth and now I have a better communication with my mother.
– The job of guardener jail (Tom Hanks) is to kill.
– On the one hand he kidnapped the children bottom her parents … I’m chocked.
– (About Pearl Harbor) It’s a film who speak a second warm.
– (More about Pearl Harbor by a different student) It’s the worth moment of the war beacause China attack USA by surprise and there are many murdered.
– (About Harry Potter) I like this film because the actors are student. They are my old years.