Back in seventh grade I was the new kid: no friends and very nervous. The first day at school, so far, was going quite well. But then, when I chose my seat in Science, an even more nervous-looking kid sat down next to me and said "Parlez-vous Français?".

Luckily I could speak some French (6th grade) and he could speak some fragmented English. But still he just couldn't keep up with the teacher's high speed lectures and homework. I tried my best to explain the lessons to him, but it quickly became apparent that he just wanted to copy down my answers, him even getting me in trouble with the teacher on multiple occasions!

But I could sympathize for him; he was now in a new country that had new kids that spoke a new language. So hard did I try to get him to understand his new environment, lessons and assignments, but alas, I eventually gave up and stopped caring when he would peek over and write down my answers.

Not too long into the school year, though (~ 2 months), we got official seating charts and he was put on the other side of the classroom. At the time I was (unfortunately) relieved. But now, a few years later, I wish I'd been a better classmate for him.

How could I have communicated to him that his cheating was not okay and that he needed to do his own work?

  • "What could I have done better" comes along the lines of "What should I do?" Or in this case "What should I have done?" What is Off-Topic on this site. Praise for your desire to help someone if you face a similar situation again. But you need to come up your self, with how to help someone. So you need to give us the goal you want to achieve (i.e. you want to make him aware of something that might help him get along better). Then you can ask how to achieve that goal. That's what we can help with here.
    – dhein
    Jan 21, 2019 at 6:39
  • Perhaps a question for Language Learning SE... How to help someone get the most out of an immersion experience when they over-rely on crutches that prevent learning! This is also another reason why we need a new Teaching SE proposal. :(
    – Euchris
    Jan 21, 2019 at 17:39
  • 1
    Changed the question at the end to be more specific and applicable to the situation.
    – user22955
    Jan 22, 2019 at 4:05

1 Answer 1


You talk to the teacher so they are aware the student might need extra help because of language. You were just a student, and it was the teacher's responsibility to make sure the students were learning. It was also the teacher's responsibility to ensure he was not cheating. And then, when he tried to cheat, especially when you knew it would get you in trouble too, you would cover your paper so that it wasn't easy.

To do better, you offer to help before or after class, helping him do the work himself, as well as helping him learn the language. Which it sounds like you did. Perhaps not give up as soon. But you were a kid, and you too were trying to find an easier way. That's normal.

You're feeling responsibility for a teacher who either was unaware of his needs or uncaring, and a student who wanted to take the easy way, even when it got you in trouble. Neither of those things were yours to take.

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