Thank you all for your help. It's been very useful. I will of course be talking to them about Perl as well.
That way when the tricks are being taught, I can at least say something like "and see here, that's the assignment operator, remember? So we're assigning a location to the window object, in other words telling the browser where to go" and have them feel less like they're just reproducing code and more like they're understanding it.
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Want more info? How to link or
or How to display code and escape characters
are good places to start.