Cheating is a huge problem here. I knew that intellectually, but I hadn't really realized the extent of it until last night when I was grading homework. The assignment involved writing questions and answers, and well over half the class either copied their answers from someone, or allowed their answers to be copied. It was pretty depressing. I had way too many people who asked "Is your last name uhat" (someone had originally written "is your last name what?" and it must have gotten miscopied) told me that "My name is Neville," wrote that their last name was "Guopeng" (which is a first name coincidentally) or told me about a white key, a red orang, and a blue pen, and said that "am is student."
I'm not too worried about this as a long term problem though. It's what these kids do in every class, and this is what happens in every school in China. Even in college, most Chinese essays are copied off of the internet. They're soon going to realize that it's impossible to copy homework for English class, unless you actually understand the grammar patterns so that you can change key words (which is what I'm trying to teach them in the first place) and they're going to understand that the consequences are going to be more of a pain than actually doing the work themselves. As a long term goal, I want these kids to understand that copying homework is wrong, and that they should do the work themselves so that they can learn the material. For now, I'm just going to settle on being terrifying.