Topic 1: Increasing travels between countries enable people to learn different cultures or to increase tension between people from different countries?
(commercial interest and economic value); (The length of stay depends on the cooperation of the host society. ) (Many local people are very friendly and hospitable, which promote the cultural communications)
(a better understanding of other cultures and other peoples), (alter one’s attitudes towards another people or culture) (embrace different values and cultures), (create motivation to coexist peacefully), (promote multi-cultural understanding) ;
(promote integration), (remove cultural barriers);
(breach of local customs can irritate the locals)
(harbor different perceptions), (different interpretations), (provoke unanticipated responses)
(cause resentment in local communities)
Globalization is a catch-all term that refers to any activity that involves more than one country, for example, travels from one country to another. The dramatic increase in transnational travel in recent years has sparked controversy over the potential impacts of this trend on individual countries, especially those new member states of globalization. Some people are concerned that the upsurge in new arrivals will prompt local hostility against visitors, instead of promoting their understanding on mutual culture background. This notion should be rejected as one can see many facts in favour of this development between countries.
The first reason why international travels would never bring conflict is rooted in the fact that both visitors and locals are economically motivated. International travel opens up opportunities for business development throughout the world. Entrepreneurs are interested not only in the domestic market but also in the oversea market. Foreigners should learn the culture of a country before winning over the local people. In turn, locals should show their hospitality to visitors in exchange for their trust. They share a view that acceptance of each other’s cultural background is a necessary condition for cooperation.
Understanding a culture has other implications: Differences in social background, cultural values and religious belief might make the discrepancy of foreigners and local inhabitants on some issues indelible; however, the higher interaction, the higher level of communication and understanding. Arabians, for example, used to consider westerners as their foes. Now they have concrete relations with their western allies in many fields. In the initial stage, their divergence seemed inherent but over time, with better mutual understanding, they take the same position on many issues.
Undeniably, it is likely that in some resorts, foreign visitors repel the local community with their scant regard for the local environment and conventions when they first arrive. However, it should be noted that most offense is accidental, rather than intentional. Instead, visitors disobey rules and conventions simply because they have no knowledge of them. This situation is expected to be improved with the passing of time when visitors from different countries increase their knowledge of a local culture.
According to the above analysis, we can observe that the increase in the international travel should not be taken as the cause of any conflict that arises between two countries. Alternatively, one should recognize its role in improving mutual understanding between two countries.
2. Hostility=enmity=resentment= fit
3. Rooted in=derived from=based on
8. Over time=in due course=sooner or later
9. Resort, tourist resort, holiday resort, beach resort= scenic spot, place of interest:
Topic 2: When international media (including movies, fashion shows, advertisements and other TV programs) convey the same messages to the global audience, people argue that the expansion of international media has negative impacts on cultural diversify. What is your opinion?
(global media)- (On the hands of a few, large, powerful organizations); (propaganda) (domineering force), (mass seductive advertising) ;( create fresh desires), (strong economic ties)
(mingle), (bombarded with new values),(confidence and pride),(rejection of their cultural heritage) (adoption of Western cultural practices); (ethnic identity ); (social cohesion); (a loss of viewers ), (television shows)
(degrade the quality and diversity of world culture);(commercialized ), (cultural goods), (commodities in the marketplace) (authenticity)
(likelihood of mutual understanding and mutual acceptance ): (not necessarily lead to the abolition of traditional values),
(The dominant media reflect cultural diversity) ;( Most foreign programming is promoting cultural diversity. ), (adapt to local conditions), (aware of cultural sensitivity), (exercise self-censorship to suit the market)
As international media companies expand across the world, the growing popularity and uniformity of some media programs (such as TV shows, movies, fashion shows) is causing worldwide concern, Many people have strong views toward this trend. In my opinion, international media is closely linked to cultural globalization and cultural homogeneity.
The dominance of international media is a sign of Western cultural imperialism and has the potential to thwart cultural diversity. It is not a secret that international media is owned and operated by a handful of giant corporations, such as Time Warner. They control large sectors of the media market and place national media companies at risk. The contraction in the number of media owners will cause a proportional reduction in the variety of programs broadcasted. For example, painting, music and movies accessible in the media have a small number of genres, imposing restraints on one’s knowledge of artworks of different cultural backgrounds.
In addition to seizing control over those creative industries, global entertainment companies affect cultural diversity by reshaping the perceptions, beliefs and norms of ordinary citizens in different countries. Most of the cultural values and ideals promoted by the leading mainstream media are of American origin. American culture values individuality, maximization of one’s benefits and material wealth, rather than communal life and family solidarity, the values and norms previously treasured in many Asian countries. Unfortunately, many Asian people now imitate American people, causing the alteration of their perceptions of family. This radical change can be attributed to those movies and TV programs that portray the success of American individuals or corporations.
The loss of media diversity is also responsible for people’s narrow sense of ways of life. The ruling class of many countries speaks English, favors Western food, wears Western-style jackets and even prefers Western weddings. Young people are captivated by American basketball and some even daubing the names of NBA stars on their school sweat suits. All these transformations in life are the result of the audience’s exposure to Hollywood movies, TV shows and sports reports. The loss of media diversity will lead to degradation of culture and to a minimization of cultural diversity. It is a worrying trend, as people need cultural diversity to preserve and pass on their valuable heritage to future generations, including lifestyle.
As shown above, international media, controlled by a handful of transnational media corporations, is exporting Western culture worldwide and putting many indigenous cultures at the risk of extinction. The uniformity of media programs has led to that of artworks, norms and ways of life wherever international media goes.
4. A handful of=a small number of
10. Be captivated by=be obsessed with=be passionate about=be addicted to=be keen on=be enthusiastic about
11. Pass on=give=impart=convey
Topic 3: There is a disagreement on the impact of increased business and culture contact between countries on a country’s identity. What is your opinion?
(not static, but dynamic); (social environment), (People’s eating habits have been changed as the result of learned behaviour. ); (symbols of wealth) , (suit the tastes of visitors) j
(preference for imports); (sense of identity), (an erosion of social solidarity) (westernized), ( the suit is the most popular outfit for men)
(play a small role in the technological revolution), (concede sovereignty and interests to other countries for aid) j (widening gap between the richest and poorest parts of the world);
(new ruling class); (renounce traditionally-held beliefs), (outdated and inferior); (A dominant culture takes over diverse cultures. ), (lose respect to older cultures), ( consigned to history)
One of the most conspicuous trends in the 21st century is a closer connection between countries, in both economic and cultural aspects. There is a widespread worry that this will lead to the gradual demise of countries’ identities. This issue should be viewed and analyzed from multiple perspectives.
When a country tends to develop a closer relationship with the rest of the world, it does not necessarily give up its culture. Culture is not a disgrace to but an asset of a country. An indigenous culture can distinguish one country from others, attracting foreign visitors and yielding high income. As most tourists travel abroad for learning different cultures and sampling different ways of life, such as Beijing opera in China, Japanese tea culture and Thai temples, many countries have responded with protecting and preserving their cultural identities, in an effort to keep themselves in the list of the most popular destinations. Increased tourism instills fresh life force into these countries, aiding the conservation of their features.
While tourism provides a driving force for cultural conversation, some components of a culture such as traditions, customs or taboos might die out over time. It seems that in some countries, the locals have become more accustomed to exotic cultures. It reflects the combined effects of the invasion of foreign cultures, either through media or through direct business interaction. For example, two decades ago, sex was a taboo subject in China and most Chinese people felt embarrassed to talk openly about it. Over time the Western culture has permeated into the Chinese lifestyle, and the Chinese people have broken many of their time-honored traditions. It occurs in the rest of the world as well.
As outlined above, increased interaction between countries in the domains of business and culture can either strengthen or undermine the identities of countries involved. To date there is no definite answer to this question.
2. Connection=linkage= relation=relationship
6. Life force=soul=essence
8. Exotic=bizarre=outlandish=from afar=mysteriously unusual:
10. Permeate=seep into=pervade=leak into
Topic 4: Some people believe that culture will be ruined if it is used to earn tourism revenue, but others consider that tourism is the only way of protecting a culture. Discuss both sides and give your own opinion.
(cultural preservation ) (landscape) (tourism site) (motivator); (integrate tourism and cultural heritage) ( economic incentives) ;
( introduce the tourism options available with the cultural sectors), ( including museums, historical sites, events and cuisine), (get an insight into local customs and traditions). (experience local traditions, arts and heritage). (respect the host community and its environment), ( the dialogue over conservation of natural and cultural resources)
( cultural destruction)
(preserve food, fashion, festivals and so forth) (superficial elements of a culture), (freeze culture as performers), (the loss of culture, religion, rituals, material culture and language); (commercialize the culture), (erode the sacred and unique nature ), (entertain, rather than educate tourists), (humiliate the local people);
(increasing litter, graffiti, vandalism and noise), (enter buildings, shrines or sacred lands without permission) ( an insult to the local culture)
There is little room for doubt that tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world.
However, its impact on culture remains a source of constant debate. This essay will elaborate on both positive and negative effects of tourism from a cultural perspective.
Providing economic incentives for cultural preservation is unarguably one of the main contributions of tourism. To many tourists, culture and history are what they first consider when choosing a destination. Their mindset has been recognized by many tourism sites and money has been subsequently directed toward cultural protection, including the maintenance of key historical sites. Tourism is therefore one of the primary forces contributing to the preservation of a culture.
In addition to raising financing, tourism can make an indigenous culture known to the world and rally support worldwide to protect it. When a historic site or a site that shows a country’s cultural heritage is made accessible to the public, visitors from all over the world will soon flock there. They will share their experience in the local culture with their friends and families once they return home, assisting this site to gain international fame. Both financial and technological support will flood in for the conservation of natural and cultural resources.
On the negative side, tourism develops sometimes at the expense of part of culture. Food, festivals, costumes and other stimulating elements of a culture are highlighted to entertain tourists, constituting an insult to the locals and causing damage to the unique nature of a culture. Moreover, cultural commercialization has made the sacred elements of a culture commonplace and tourists are encouraged to attach little importance to a unique tradition, which cannot be found elsewhere.
In the light of these facts, one can conclude that tourism is neither a boon nor a bane to cultural preservation. While its endeavor to protect an indigenous culture should be recognized, it has put the integrity of a culture at risk.
1. Unarguably= unquestionably =indisputably=undeniably
6. At the expense of=at the cost of
7. Entertain=amuse=keep somebody amused
10. In the light of-=in view of=considering=taking into account
13. Put at risk=endanger=jeopardize
Topic 5: Some people argue that immigrants should adopt the local culture when immigrating to a new country. An alternative view is that they can adapt to a new environment by establishing a minority community. Discuss these two views and give your opinion.
(Contradictory or conflicting), (coexistent), (realize betterment) (dual approaches)
(merge into the new culture), (integrate into the new society); (dominant language), (a fair chance to succeed) ;
(mutual understanding), (hostility and xenophobia), (perceptions of threat), (favorable attitudes toward immigrants ); (positive perceptions of migrant groups)
(sense of identity), (preservation of one’s own festivals and cultural heritage), (religion and cultural groups ) (satisfy most peoples’ needs) ;
(unable to comprehend simple tasks in their new life), ( old country of residence ), (longing for family), ( feel lost )
The world in the 21st century is marked by high population mobility. When an increasing number of people have chosen to leave their motherlands and resettle in a new country, they are at crossroads whether to blend in with the local culture or to cherish their own cultural heritages by establishing a minority community. In my opinion, the convergence of different cultures does not require one culture to yield to another. Instead, it can be achieved by building minority communities.
Most immigrants, at the first stage of their life in a new country, are faced with merging into the new culture and integrating into the new society. Accepting the local culture by observing the local traditions is a good starting point. Doing so enables immigrants to interact with locals, especially in the workplace, where locals predominantly work. For example, in Western culture, people customarily keep a certain distance from each other when having a conversation, whereas in some other cultures, the closeness of physical distance is taken as a sign of mutual trust. Examples of this kind are many. A migrant to a new country should recognize the differences and observe local conventions. It will help avoid embarrassment and bring a sense of comfort.
While adopting local customs and blending into the local culture, migrants can follow their individual cultural traditions. The coexistence of different minority communities in a country benefits both immigrants and locals. On the one hand, it enables immigrants to counteract the stress that results from culture shock and to increase confidence in their residence in a new country. On the other, the flourishing of different cultures contributes to the establishment of a multi-cultural environment, a prerequisite for attracting skilled workforce from all over the world to settle.
By comparing the immigration options above, one can conclude that immigrants can adopt local conventions and cherish their own cultures simultaneously. This allows both locals and immigrants to co-build a harmonious multi-cultural community.
1. Motherland= native country
4. Merge into=blend into=integrate into
5. Starting point=basis
Topic 6: The advantages of the spread of English as a global language will continue to outweigh its disadvantages. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
( global language, lingua franca )
(people of all race with different language backgrounds) (stay in touch simultaneously); (the language of global corporate management, the Internet, culture and science) (key areas of global communication). ( working language);
(necessity in the everyday life); (the trend toward globalization), ( operate locally or domestically);
(easy to master) (compared to most other European languages, English has a minimal grammar (language standardization) (protect those cultures that are on the verge of extinction)
( spread of English ) (language loss),
(non-English speakers) ( can be bilingual), ( beginner or intermediate level English) (achieve mutual comprehension), (mother tongues);
(English speakers ) (polyglots or bilingual native speakers) (monolinguals ) (cater to local cultural values), ( explore the global market)
(global language, lingua franca )
(English-speaking countries) (serve the economic and cultural interests); (integrity), ( conventions), (Westernized or Americanized), (pose a serious threat to indigenous people and languages)
(non-English speakers )(study a culture and its literature to an advanced level), (lack of culture and language diversity)
In these years, there is a growing recognition that English is well on its way to becoming a dominant global language. The impact of this trend is a subject of intense debate. It is my opinion than advantages of a dominant global language will continue to outweigh its disadvantages.
The rise of a global language is a facilitator of cross-cultural communication and the communication between people with different language backgrounds. In different areas of global communication, such as science and news, recognizing a common language removes communication barriers and increases convenience. On many formal occasions, English as a working language, boosts efficiency and avoids misunderstanding. Likewise, the exchange of essential information like know-how and technologies will be tremendously prompted.
One might argue that the rise of a global language would endanger other languages, in a belief that an increasing number of people have turned to English as their first language. This viewpoint is flawed. The spread of global English has little, if any, influence on non-English-speakers’ language proficiency. People might be motivated to learn English as a foreign language but do not necessarily drop their native language because learning beginner or intermediate level English is sufficient for day-to-day communication.
The dominance of English as a global language is, therefore, not a cause of the loss of language diversity. Its negative effect is reflected mainly in cultural imperialism. As international media recognizes English as its root language, most of the broadcasted information is related to the lifestyle, norms and beliefs of English-speaking countries. It might over time put many minority cultures on the verge of extinction, when those ethnic groups gradually adopt the Western culture. The effects of shrinking cultural diversity are destructive, causing people to live in a simple and monotonous world and think and act in similar ways.
The development of English is overall, a positive global trend. It connects people who previously spoke different languages and enables them to exchange ideas, although it might lead to the loss of cultural diversity.
4. On the verge of=on the brink of=on the edge of
Topic 7: Aircrafts have been increasingly used to transport fruits and vegetables to some countries where such plants hardly grow or are out of season. Some people consider it a good trend, but some people oppose it. Discuss both views and give your opinion.
(more goods and lower prices) (Relieve food supply stress/food shortage);
(participation in the world economic globalization process), (win-win situation);(export products with competitive advantages);(conducive to expanding export and attracting foreign capital);
(the freight transport industry) (made available at an affordable cost)
(pose threats to domestic firms and jobs), (impact the manufacture of essential goods) ;
(perishable crops), (hard to preserve); (rely excessively on imports) (trade deficit);
( unaffordable to the general public)
There has been a steady increase in the demand for imports throughout the world in recent years, including those perishable items, such as fruits and vegetables. Despite the boom in this business, importing agricultural products is very often criticized as unnecessary and extravagant, especially when air freight is involved. The criticism was correct in the past, but at the present time, there are indications that this trade activity has brought various benefits.
At first, it is important to note that contrary to popular belief, imports are now increasingly affordable to the general population. Thanks to the rapid development of the freight transport industry, air travel has become an economical mode of transport, resulting in the subsequent decrease in the cost of importing. Meanwhile, technical advance in the food processing industry has made it much easier to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables over a long-haul air flight. Because of the wide availability of imported crops, there are more varieties in the food market, leading to the drop in the price of imports. The supply of products in the market is less likely to be influenced by seasonal factors, and an adequate intake of nutrition is guaranteed for the general population throughout the year.
Another fact to note is that import and export normally go hand in hand, and a country that imports goods from other countries does not necessarily suffer a loss. Trade is not unilateral but bilateral. Some countries are noted for an agrarian economy, while others specialise in manufacturing industrial products. Countries differ in their product structures because they have dissimilar natural resources, climates, and geographical features. By adopting an enlightened policy and promoting trade activities with other countries, a country can facilitate the exchange of goods, services and capital with the rest of the world and promote economic development.
On the negative side, some countries might become addicted to importing goods and overlook the possibility of developing a self-contained economy. Scarcity of resource or lack of technology might disable a country from producing crops to feed its population, but it cannot be taken as an excuse for relying heavily on imports.
Government funding in scientific research can make it possible to achieve a breakthrough and increase the yield, thereby resolving food supply crisis.
Countries are therefore advised to promote international trade and to develop their own industries simultaneously. Positive attitudes toward importing goods from other countries demonstrate a government’s stance on the international trade, although the government should also prevent itself from relying on imported goods.
1. Perishable=easy to rot
2. Boom=rapid growth=sudden increase=expansion=surge
4. At the present time=at present=currently
7. Go hand in hand=be closely connected=be inseparable
13. Yield=harvest=the amount of crops produced
14. Simultaneously=at the same time
Topic 8: Millions of dollars are spent on space research every year. Some people argue that the money should be spent on improving living standards on Earth. Do you agree or disagree?
(finite and exhaustible), (open energy and material resources of space for human benefit); (support economic growth), (an increase in business activity);
(cause the usable space to shrink), ( find a sanctuary),
(environmental monitoring), (living environment ) ( weather forecasting) , (sustainable development)
(technological competitiveness), (in international business), (human capital and high-level expertise); (the interest of young people in natural sciences )
(long-term commitments and funding ), (unaffordable to most countries), (famine )
( make little progress), ( taxing and unrewarding )
In recent years, there have been more and more countries involved and interested in long-term space projects. Because of the enormous research expenditures incurred, the value of space projects has been disputed. Some people suggest that government funding should be diverted toward improving the living standard of ordinary people. In evaluating the merits of space ambition, one should adopt a broader perspective. The investment in space research can be paid off someday in the future.
The first reason to support it is that our planet is now facing an unprecedented resource problem, which can be tackled only by discovering and mining new resources on other planets. The overuse or scarcity of some resources on the Earth is a severe problem. Rare metals, such as gold or silver, will eventually be depleted, as industrial production expands. These metals and other natural sources, although rare on Earth, might abound on other planets. In that case, conducting space research is a promising adventure.
Meanwhile, the world’s population is now growing to a stage where there are too many people for the planet to support, highlighting the need to seek land suitable for people’s re-settlement off the planet. Even if new urban developments are able to accommodate the increasing population, water and electricity supply, waste treatment, sewage disposal and sanitation will become unmanageable for the capacity of our planet. As there are countless planets orbiting stars throughout the universe, one can be confident that at least one of them is suitable for our second home planet. Mars, for example, bearing a close resemblance to the Earth, is considered a potential backup.
In addition to searching for a shelter for future generations, space programs contribute considerably to the well-being of the Earth in some other aspects. For example, by monitoring the ozone hole, global warming, the loss of rain forests and other environmental threats to human survival, remote sensing satellites help people trace the recovery from the worst environmental threats and thereby improve the quality of life. Meanwhile, space research provides a new platform on which scientists can carry out experiments and make new discoveries in a variety of fields, such as agriculture.
As suggested above, in locating new resources, positioning new settlements, addressing environmental concerns and facilitating scientific discovery, space research will prove to be not only worthwhile, but also crucial to the survival and sustainability of human civilization.
1. Value =merit= worthiness =worth
4. Abound=be plentiful=thrive=flourish=proliferate=grow in great numbers
7. Sewage =waste water
Topic 9: Space travel to the Moon is often cited as one giant leap for mankind. Yet some people argue that this achievement made little difference to our daily lives. What is your opinion?
( science), ( inspiration ) ( resources ):
(observe the universe), (combine efforts of both humans and machines in exploring a planetary surface) ; (trigger imagination), (confronting unknowns and challenges on new frontiers); (converted for civil use)
(Water exists in the dark and cold regions near the poles of the Moon.),
(consume resources and take time), (benefits are limited);
(distract the government and the public from some more significant issues)
The idea of travelling through space, even living and working on other planets, has fascinated people for centuries. Despite numerous setbacks and daunting expenditures, travelling in the outer space has never failed to attract people’s attention and provoke controversy. Sixty years after the first Moon landing, people question whether the feat, previously thought of as a giant leap for mankind, has substantially benefited people’s lives. In my opinion, landing on the Moon has enormous relevance for the quality of life, ‘albeit not always explicit.
The first implication of Moon landing is reflected in the likelihood of travelling on other planets. Moon, as the object in the outer space closet to the Earth, can serve as a launch site for the journeys to other planets. Having no atmosphere, the Moon is a permanent base for people to observe the universe easily and provide them with sufficient evidence they require for decision making on a great many significant issues, which are likely to have direct impact on them. For example, one can learn more about the treat of potentially hazardous objects that are likely to hit the Earth and destroy our civilization.
Another remarkable breakthrough made by the Moon landing is that it reignites people’s enthusiasm in the natural sciences. When today’s youths become increasingly interested in such subjects as commerce, finance and business, space exploration successfully attracts and retains talents in space-related technologies. These young minds are convinced that unraveling the unknown of the universe is feasible, despite many challenges. They are inspired to think for the future, instead of being preoccupied with contemporary issues only.
It should also be noted that the Moon has water, the basic resource for people’s survival, and it abounds in solar energy, a clean and readily obtainable resource. It is also believed that minerals are plentiful there to be exploited. Someday, if people are forced to move off the Earth, the Moon might be the best shelter. Although people have not yet fully explored this possibility at this stage, preliminary investigation is imperative.
Based on the above-mentioned facts, one can conclude that the Moon landing greatly impacts on distant future, although its effect is not apparent for the time being. The Moon is the eventual gateway to other planets and potentially the place. of residence for the future generations. The scientific knowledge and economic benefits to be gained by building a sustainable Moon base are huge.
5. Unravel=find an answer to=work out
9. Preliminary=initial= preceding
11. For the time being=for now=for the moment
Topic 10: Some people argue that the government should spend money on public services and facilities, but not on the arts. Do you agree or disagree?
(private sector) (cultural traditions) (passed on from one generation to another),
(essential to modem life), (central to a civilized society), (Works of art convey the ineffable. ), ( an integral part of cultural life ) ; (provide positive outlets), ( preserve a culture); (attract foreign tourists for sightseeing), (produce tourism revenue) ; (art objects), (sculpture and architecture), (enjoy the beauty of urban or rural landscape) , (pleasing to the eye)
The role of arts in modem life is unique, providing people with entertainment and yielding various psychological rewards, such as relief from stress. Despite these benefits, the arts have been taken as luxury goods in many cases. It is suggested that public money of a city should be concentrated in projects like public facilities, which are more likely to bring immediate benefits to the public, rather than the arts.
There are a number of facts indicating that this position is right. Public facilities, widely accepted as one of the main precursors to a city’s development, should be one of the highest priorities. Those underdeveloped cities in particular, should direct sufficient funding toward public facilities. While municipal office buildings, courthouses and post offices are essential components of public services, libraries, hospitals, parks, playing fields, gymnasiums and swimming pools are available to the public for social, educational, athletic and cultural activities. By boosting spending on public facilities, cities are more capable to satisfy the needs of citizens and improve their standard of living.
In addition to social benefits, there are economic merits that public facilities can offer to communities. An integrated transport network (maritime, land and inland waterways transport and civil aviation), for example, promises the smooth and speedy movement of goods and people in a city. Industrial products, as well as agricultural produce of a city, can be delivered to other cities in exchange for steady income. Of equal importance are public Internet facilities. Providing access to information by improving Internet and other telecommunications facilities has relevance to the ease with which businesses in a city receive, process, utilize and send information, It is no exaggeration to say that entrepreneurs, either from home or abroad, will first examine the infrastructure of a city before deciding whether to pursue business opportunities there.
The arts, by comparison, although enabling people to see the world and the human condition differently and to see a truth one might ignore before, do not merit government spending. The first reason is that the arts referring to music, film and literature altogether-r-are more likely to attract the investment of the private sector than public facilities. Businesspeople continue to invest in the arts in the expectation of earning lump sum income and the arts in return, continue to flourish without the government spending. Meanwhile, the arts are a key component of a culture and naturally passed down from one generation to another. Unlike public facilities, they require no money to survive.
It is therefore clear that construction of public facilities should be given the foremost consideration. The concern about the well-being of individual citizens and that of a city is more acute than the apprehension about the survival and prospects of the arts, something that businesses have a stake in.
5. Merit =deserve=earn
8. Stake=involvement= concern=interest=share
Topic 11: Some people argue that the government should spend money only on medical care and education but not on theatres or sport stadiums. Do you agree or disagree?
(break the cycle of poverty ); (remain poor throughout their lifespan and even across generations) ;
(improve productivity), ( prosperity ): (have far-reaching effects);
(high quality and availability of health case) (win the loyalty), (productive and skilled workers); (render assistance to the disabled, retired and disadvantaged); ( improve health);
(spiritual needs), (enrich one’s cultural life), ( a sign of a civilized city);
Where public money goes is an issue of broad interest to the general public. Some people advocate that the government should fund the sectors that bring tangible and immediate benefits to the public, such as medical care and educational systems, while opponents suggest that those large urban developments, such as stadiums and theatres, are worth government funding, In my opinion, the possibility remains that the two opinions can be reconciled and the government can coordinate budgeting to meet the needs of both.
Medical care is essential to the economic and social well-being of a country, particularly of an underdeveloped country. Both empirical knowledge and academic research suggest that making education available throughout a country and eliminating illiteracy can pave the way for economic development. By receiving education, children from impoverished families can shake of poverty, climb high in the social ladder and live better off, Education also allows citizens to secure employment and earn regular income, thereby maintaining or improving their standard of living. For a country as a whole, education is linked to skilled workforce and to high productivity, affecting both resource use and national output.
Government interference in healthcare and medical services is also highly recommended. Availability of affordable medical service is a mark of the social and economic development of a country. By providing the needy people with medical service, a country can inspire the loyalty of citizens.
People feel assured living and working in a country where they can be given medical service when unemployed, sick, injured or retired. By comparison, if they cannot afford the high cost of visiting the clinic, hospitalization, or buying drugs, they are less likely to enjoy their living. Social solidarity will eventually suffer.
Although education and medical services are fundamental to the stability and development of a country, it is not to say that theatres or sport stadiums have no redeeming feature. In the hierarchy of human needs, those needs for food, shelter and health are among the basic. After these targets are attained, people turn to higher aspirations, entertainment and recreation. Leisure facilities like stadiums and cinemas satisfy people’s needs in these fields. A game between one’s motherland and a visiting country can raise people’s sense of national pride and ethnical unity. The cinema brings artistic pleasure to everyone.
To draw a conclusion, the decision to finance theatres or sport stadiums depends on the financial situation of a country. When an economy comes to maturity, the launch of recreational and entertainment projects of this kind is reasonable.
3. Shake off =get rid o:f=get away with
5. Drug=medicine=prescription drug
6. Redeeming feature=desirable quality
7. Hierarchy=pyramid=pecking order=chain of command
8. Shelter=safe haven=housing=accommodation=lodging
9. Motherland=fatherland=nation state
Topic 12: Some people think the government should pay for health care and education, but there is no agreement about whether it is the government’s responsibility. What is your opinion?
(ease the burden of tuition fees), (raise literacy rate or standards of literacy );
(fund of staff and faculty, course offerings, lab equipment, computer systems, libraries, facility upkeep) ;
(skilled and experienced workers); (levy income taxes) (provide care for the sick, the elderly, the retired, the disabled, the children of the working parents, and so forth) ;
(universal access to healthcare services), (ensure social equality); (publicly-funded health care), (improve the quality of service), (increased emphasis on preventative and primary health care), (reasonable pharmaceutical prices)
(not market driven), (cost efficiency), (a greater likelihood of lower-quality health care and educational services), (long waiting lists for access to some medical treatments, especially those of a specialized or advanced nature) ;
(less motivation for innovation and invention) ;
(provide no incentive to enter the profession and fail to attract more qualified individuals who would otherwise choose a different profession) ;
(speed driving, overeating, excessive drinking), (compulsory education);
(ease financial burden)
Not surprisingly, health care and education are two areas of government priority in most, if not all, of the countries around the world. However, many tend to see the both areas as citizens’ individual responsibilities. This belief is partly right. The government and the citizens should be jointly responsible for the cost of education and health care service.
The first point to note is that government funding for education is of great benefit to families with children and the society as a whole. There are occasions on which parents cannot afford the cost of their education and their savings are meager, compared with the formidable tuition fees being charged by a tertiary institution. Poor academic experience can impair one’s employability and put him or her into a seriously disadvantaged position. Government spending addresses this issue by providing aspiring students with access to a comfortable learning experience. In this knowledge-based society, possibly nothing is more valuable than the access to education.
Similarly, an individual should receive health care treatments, especially lifesaving ones, whether he or she has the means to pay. Access to health care is a basic human right and a measure to ensure a decent standard of living. In the event of the need for urgent or emergency treatment, government spending enables sufferers to receive immediate health care services. This is the fulfillment of the government’s responsibility to its members. Needless to say, health care treatment costs are, in general, unaffordable to low income families, Government’s financial support is therefore required.
Despite these facts, it is immoral that individuals shirk responsibility and try to pass all medical costs on to the government. In view of the fact that the government raises financing primarily from taxpayers’ income, individual’s over-exploitation of a health care system will in fact add a heavy burden on those hardworking and good-hearted citizens. Particular attention should be paid on those people whose health problems are attributed to their poor personal living habits (smoking, drinking, substance use or inactive lifestyle), in such cases, they should not be entitled for public medical services.
As suggested above, education and healthcare services are of primary importance to citizens, and the government has the responsibility to ensure that those services are available and affordable. However, it is not to say that the government should bear the costs of all healthcare and educational services that the citizens currently enjoy.
1. Formidable=remarkable=astounding= daunting
2. Employability=the ability to find a job
4. Standard of living=living standard=level of affluence= level of comfort
7. Bear=assume=shoulder=take on
Topic 13: People should keep all the money they earn and should not pay taxes to the state. Do you agree or disagree?
(the operation of government), ( military defense), ( enforcement of law and public order);
(provide public services and investment), (bridges, roads, energy, water and waste management systems) (public transportation);
(close the gap between rich and poor) , (income redistribution, redistribution of wealth ),
(fund welfare and public services);
(influence macroeconomic performance): (have a direct effect on consumption and employment); (collect a tax on alcohol and tobacco) (Highway tolls);
( dampen enthusiasm for investment);
(Require the creation of a large bureaucracy to administer and enforce the system). (expenses incurred)
The role of taxation is providing funds necessary for carrying out a variety of functions in a country. However, to many taxpayers, especially employers, paying tax remains the biggest headache. In my opinion, tax revenue is essential to a country. Below are some of its main functions.
Although many taxpayers see income tax as an appropriation of their earnings, tax is in fact a relief to taxpayers and their families, for example by providing a safeguard against unemployment and a solution to other problems that they may confront in life. For example, those who lose their earning capabilities because of injuries, diseases and disabilities are entitled to the government’s financial support, derived mainly from tax revenue. There is no point in denying that tax is the principal source of finance that sustains many of the benefits offered by the welfare system of a country. Although most workers are not the beneficiaries currently, they will count on these benefits in their later years (as pensioners). So will their dependents (children and parents).
Taxation is meanwhile an effective tool by which a society can achieve the redistribution of income and close the gap between haves and have-nots. In most countries, as a general rule the higher the personal income, the higher the income tax. By imposing different tax rates, the government is able to distribute the tax burden across social classes, reducing income disparity between the rich and the poor.
Corporate tax is deemed by business as a regular cost, which must be kept to a minimum, but it is not necessarily a bane. By levying different types of tax, the government can exert an influence on macroeconomic performance, which in turn influences the income of the business world. When the economy is on the verge of a recession, the government can reduce the tax and present tax incentives, which proves to be an effective policy in reviving the economy. By contrast, during the periods of growth, the government can raise the tax rate so as to prevent an overheated economy and combat inflation. It is fair to say that tax is one of the main tools in establishing a healthy environment conducive to business’s sustained growth.
What have been discussed above are the benefits brought by taxation, all being essential to a country, its businesses and individual taxpayers. Although many taxpayers feel pressured by taxes, they will eventually benefit from the taxes they have paid and should therefore bear tax liabilities.
3. Earning=remuneration=wage=income=take-home pay=salary
5. Later years= last few years of one’s life
6. Haves and have-nots=rich and poor
7. Recession =downturn=depression=slump
Topic 14: It is widely accepted that people who have post-school qualifications earn a higher salary than those less educated do. University students should, therefore, pay all the full cost incurred over the course of obtaining a college education. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(tertiary education investments) (knowledge-driven economic and social development), (long-term returns from research and technology development), (greater productivity is achieved through technological innovation) ;
(well-educated), ( well-paid jobs), (pay higher income tax),(reduce the participation of disadvantaged groups); (break out of poverty )
(experience financial pressure),
With the labour intensive economy gradually giving way to knowledge-focused economy, the access to higher education has become an issue of broad interest The proposal to charge all university students with tuition fees and allow no exemption arises mainly from the concern that tertiary education has to compete with many other urgent demands for public funds and struggle with underfunding, I believe that this policy, if implemented, will have an accumulative effect on the well-being of either individual students or the society as a whole.
When laying the hope of future development over students, the government cannot shirk from the responsibility to finance them. The sustained growth of a country rests on young talents. In this sense, the government is investing, not spending money. A standard example is America, a country investing multimillion dollars in higher educational an annual basis and sponsoring students’ study by different forms of aid, such as scholarships, subsidies, allowances and student loans. It can be expected that these well-educated aspiring people, after finishing their education, will constitute a main drive of a state’s growth. Moreover, the government should plough a reasonable proportion of tax revenue, most being sourced from parents, back to their children.
Meanwhile, it is worth mentioning .that some schools tend to force a complex of charges over students, with the aim to extend their profit margin. Ignorant of their not-for-profit nature, many universities might deviate from their most important tasks, such as improving teaching quality. The persistence of this problem will make their academic service much less credible and quality of teaching and faculty staff uneven. A university can cover its expense by various means, such as the receipt of donation, or the government’s funding, instead of levying a high fee over students.
The reasons cited above have justified why university students need not pay more than a lower payment. While depending on young generations, the society should be more considerate of their situation. The effort to encourage tertiary education participation will pay back sooner, rather than later.
1. Give way to=succumb to=yield to
6. Rest on=hinge on=depend on
9. Persistence = continuance
10. Uneven=unbalanced =unequal
Topic 15: Only government action can solve housing shortages in big cities. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(commercialization of housing) (unaffordable to low income families), (economical housing), (government intervention) ;
(the housing affordability gap widens), ( rental rates ) (low-income families )( me unable to buy houses)
(the direct result of overcrowding and overpopulation), (zoning policies), ( urban development (housing allowance )
(house allocation system ) (dampen the enthusiasm of individuals in housing investment), (a grave shortage in the investment in house construction), (ease the housing pressure);
(the fundamental role) (construction quality), (functionality), (housing quality ) ( monotonous cityscape, uniformity of house design), (comprehensive requirements on living conditions)
Housing shortage has become a serious urban social issue in many parts of the world. It has been argued that only when the government has taken actions, can demand for homes be fulfilled. Yet to the best of my know ledge, the government alone cannot cope well with housing shortages.
One of the main objections to government intervention is that it would hamper the private sector and simultaneously pose a huge burden upon the state. In countries where the government is on a tight budget and the homeless population is large, the involvement of private property developers is required and recommended. Not only does it release the government from the burden of funding large-sized construction programs but it also fosters the housing industry. Given its role in attracting public consumption and accelerating economic development, the housing industry should be at the mercy of the market, rather than the government.
Another drawback of state control over the housing market is that it could result in the stagnancy of construction quality, functionality, facilities and other aspects of housing. Apartment blocks or other residential constructions would be built in a similar pattern and the cityscape would be monotonous. Excessive uniformity, especially in the size and number of rooms, will fail to meet comprehensive requirements raised by citizens on properties.
Despite these objections, government intervention is essential in some segments of the market and can render more resistance to citizens. Single parents, the people with disabilities and other disadvantaged people are among those who are not ready to afford commercial housing. The government can provide them either with housing allowance to purchase their private properties or directly with economical houses.
As indicated above, in addressing homelessness and inadequate housing, the joint effort of both government and private sector is required. While government intervention would impede the property market and negatively influence the supply and demand relationship, government assistance is essential for low-income families and vulnerable individuals in need of housing.
1. Objection=opposition=argument against
2. At the mercy of=reliant on
Topic 16: There are social, medical and technical problems associated with the use of mobile phones. What form do these problems take? Do problems of using mobile phones outweigh the benefits?
(speak at an increased volume) (uncomfortable)
(intercept) (eavesdrop in);
(increase the risk of suffering cancers) ;
(talk on the phone wh.ile driving), (correlation with road traffic accidents)
(send text messages ) (make voice calls); (Internet browsing), (music playback), (personal organizers), (email). (built-in cameras), (ringtones), (games );
(in the event of an emergency),(locate trapped or injured people using the signals from their mobile phones)
Across the world, especially the wealthier parts, the mobile phone has taken the place of telephone as an electronic telecommunication device, with the majority of the adult, teenager and even child owning one. As this technology has become rife, its drawbacks, which can be seen from social, medical and technical perspectives, deserve people’s greatest attention.
Similar to many other hi-tech products, such as computers, mobile phones have detrimental effects on users’ health. For example, long-time heavy phone users seem to be more prone to certain types of cancers, although evidence to date is inconclusive. Another lethal health concern is the link between mobile phones and road accidents. It is argued that motorists have a much higher risk of collisions and losing control of the vehicle when driving and talking on the phone simultaneously, despite sometimes using hands-free systems.
When the mobile phone has brought considerable convenience, people’s obsession with convenience has meanwhile caused enormous disturbance. That’s why the use of mobile phones has been prohibited in many public places, such as libraries, theatres, hospitals and even transports, such as trains, buses and aircrafts. Speaking at increased volumes considered impolite or even offensive. In schools, students are required to switch off cell phones before the class begins because mobile phones are responsible for a high amount of class disruptions.
When its downside persists, the mobile phone has proven indispensable in modern life. It is handheld, lightweight, portable and multi-functioned, allowing users to send text messages, exchange music files, make voice calls, browse Internet, and so forth. Meanwhile, within twenty years, mobile phones are expected to be more pervasive as technical advances and mass manufacture will make them low-cost personal items. Given those factors, the mobile phone will continue to perform its role as a key social tool, by which one keeps in touch with others much more easily than did the generations before.
As suggested above, the contribution of the mobile phone to the society is prominent and people’s dependence on it for communication is an irreversible trend, although it has a number of problems that should be well handled.
1. Device =equipment=appliance=instrument
2. Rife =widespread=prevalent=ubiquitous=predominant=rampant
3. Prone to=susceptible to=vulnerable to
5. Motorist=driver=car user
Topic 17: Do you agree that modern technology has given us more leisure time than before?
(the popularity of automobiles, air travel and rail) (spend less time commuting); (computerization and automation)
(rising wages), (higher demand on standards of living ), (able to afford recreational activities), (relax themselves in their spare time)
(continue education and receive on-the-job training) (keep pace with the fast development of technology)
(work beyond normal working hours), (have to work overtime due to time difference)
In the history of mankind, possibly no century witnessed more progress in technology than the 20th century did. People have become increasingly interested in assessing the correlation between technological development and leisure time. As far as I am concerned, people’s leisure time has been shrinking as a result of the tremendous advance in modem technology.
Admittedly, thanks to modem technology, people can thus spend less time on compulsory activities (e. g. , working), but it should also be noted that other non-compulsory activities have come to consume a larger proportion of people’s after-work life, such as education. If leisure refers to the time spent in non-compulsory activities, people’s leisure time has in fact contracted. The growing concern on education has increased the likelihood that people are willing to give up their leisure lives for educational opportunities. Tills trend is attributed mainly to competition and fears of job loss, causing people to turn to on-the-job training and education for secured employment. Another incentive is the increasing flexibility of educational institutions. Worthwhile knowledge can be passed on from one generation of workers to another in different forms of education, such as televised teaching and online courses. It comes at the cost of their leisure time.
People’s leisure lives are continuously eroded also because of ubiquity of modern technological tools (e. g. computers with Internet access and telecommunications equipment). It is noteworthy that people now take fewer and shorter vacations following the increase in the number of technology-based activities. For example, cell phones and laptops make people accessible to their superiors wherever they go and wherever they are. People are more stressed than any generation before. Meanwhile, people now have to engage in more everyday processes than ever before, such as shopping, food ordering, and so on. It seems that the time budget is burdened because more time should be invested in activities that were previously ignored or unnoticed.
While posing a threat on people’s leisure lives, technologies might on other occasions, give workers more flexibility in controlling their work and more quality time after work. A traditional workweek has been cut, as the amount of manual work continues to decline because of automation. The availability of various means of transport has released working people from lengthy commutes. The line between work and private life is much more blurred, with many workers shopping, checking private emails and reading newspaper online even when working.
From what has been discussed, one understands that the development of technology has tremendous impacts on people’s daily lives, although the exact impacts are not conclusive. When the proliferation of new technologies, such as computers, allows people to manage their own working time and accommodate family needs and lifestyle choices, it has locked them in a struggle to cope with more tasks in daily lives.
3. After-work life=personal life
4. Pass on … to=hand on=transfer
5. Ubiquity =prevalence
6. Commute =the journey between home and place of work
8. Accommodate=give room for
Topic 18: Earlier technological development brought more changes to the life of ordinary people than recent technological development do. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(make a transition from agriculture to manufacture),
(growth of cities) (Vocational and formal ),( fixed timetable, working days/ weeks);
(manufactured goods), (self-contained) ;
(the prototype of modern technologies), ( innovations of those inventions in the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution)
(cause air pollution); ( consume fossil fuels)
(improve productivity), (let your fingers do the walking) ;
(make people redundant),
(boundary between work and play is blurred),
(sedentary lifestyle) ;
(make a transition from interdependence to independence)
The widespread use of computers and telecommunications technology has dramatically reshaped the nature of the society. One might have benefited a lot from one’s improved ability to move rapidly from one place to another because of the availability of automobiles, yet this benefit has been discounted because of the advent of the Internet. With Internet access, the world has become accessible to people and one can perform many tasks at home (e. g. grocery shopping) and let their fingers do the walk.ing.
Lifestyles are changed by recent technologies in equal measure. Before computers and the Internet were created, most working people struggled with a lack of leisure time and the balance between family life and work life. They were fully occupied by employment and various chores, such as shopping. With Internet, they are now able to spend much less time on those routine, dull activities and lead active leisure lives.
Modern technologies also account for the evolution of people’s perception of society. People tend to develop, modify and repurpose technology for their own use Interference, previously a core virtue of many societies, is now undermined. Cell phones allow people to insulate their private interactions from the culture around them and to create their own micro-cultures. The mobility given by modern transport meanwhile, allures them to leave their place of birth and work and live elsewhere. Cultural norms are subject to modification and the communal lifestyle is going out of fashion.
In conclusion, whether one likes it or not, technology will continue to evolve, with. the resulting changes impacting the lifestyles and cultural norms continuously. While the earlier technology had enhanced the quality of life and generated revenue for people, the recent technology has made them lead a different lifestyle from previous generations.
1. Landmark=turning point=watershed event
3. Reshape =reform=restructure=remodel
4. Discount =impair
6. Norm=custom=normal ways of behaving
Topic 19: It is said that the fast pace of our everyday life, as a direct result of the rapid development of telecommunications technology and travel industry, has negative effects on individuals, nations and the globe. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(Personal interaction reduces), (hard to maintain and improve relations with friends and family members), (detrimental to family life or social relations within or outside of work);
( lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, stroke, diabetes, heart diseases)
(promote trade activity across the border) ;
(Leisure lives have been enriched)
Not surprisingly, many aspects of people’s daily lives have undergone considerable changes because of the recent development in technology. It is a particular concern that the pace of everyday life is becoming faster, resulting from the development in cars, air travel, telecommunications technology and the Internet. As well as benefits, this trend is to bring problems.
On the positive side, the fast rhythm of life requires people to enhance efficiency when working and then allows them to enjoy longer leisure time. With the advance in telecommunications, people can make inquires by phone, instead of travelling long distances Internet access makes it possible for one to perform various tasks without leaving their offices. Even though people have to travel every now and then for meeting business partners, visiting clients in other cities or other purposes, modem transport networks reduce the amount of time they spend on commutes.
The acceleration of the pace of life also implies the expansion of people’s social circle. In the past, social relationships were limited by physical factors such as geographical distance and low mobility, but nowadays, one can travel further and get acquainted with more people with those technological advances, such as the railroad, the automobile and the telephone. For instance, the rapid penetration of telecommunications technology has made the mobile phone a key social tool and people rely on their mobile phone address book to keep in touch with their friends.
On the negative side, the fast-paced lifestyle is responsible for the upsurge in lifestyle-related problems. Jobs become demanding and require workers’ full commitment, resulting in their depression and pressure. Underneath the facade of continued contraction of official working hours, employees are actually working longer, primarily because fax, e-mail or other communication devices have made them accessible to their supervisors, colleagues and customers after work. They have to respond instantly to voice and email messages from others. Private life has to be sacrificed.
According to the facts outlined above, the doubts about the negative effects of the acceleration of pace of life are not well-grounded. People now enjoy greater well-being, which is reflected in more quality family time, less travel-related stress and close contact with friends and family members. However, they might have to accept frequent intrusions as a by-product of convenient communication.
2. Facade=disguise=cover -up
5. By-product=unwanted product=anything produced in the course of making another thing
Topic 20: Nowadays people can carry out tasks such as shopping and banking even business transactions without meeting each other face to face. What are the effects on individuals and the society?
(rely less on private or public transport), (Lead to a drop in the carbon footprint)
(concerned about one’s own way of life ), (an insular society develops and forms) ;
(inactive lifestyle), (live a reclusive life), (rely excessively on the Internet for running errands)
With the wide use of the Internet, the way people conduct business and live their lives has vastly changed. Many businesses have websites that allow people to conduct business, execute deals and finish transactions online, as an alternative to a lengthy commute. Although people are thus free from the constraints of geography and time, there are some consequences of this trend that demand attention,
Supposedly, with Internet access, people are able to perform transactions and to do shopping without leaving home, but meanwhile they have to pay a heavy price for it. One of the most negative aspects is, for instance, that it alters their social behaviors and habits. For many people, to spend part of the day on the Internet is quite normal. It can be expected that being addicted to Internet use, most of home telecommuters or Internet users will become socially isolated. Poor social life and feelings of loneliness are those problems that are very often found among heavy users.
It is also likely that people have become increasingly accustomed to living in a world that appreciates convenience and inactivity and they do not want to evade those maxims. It gives explanation of why the sedentary lifestyle is now prevailing and why people spend little time on leisure or recreational activities. Time has been spent in front of the computer or Internet. The net result is that they suffer serious loss of vision, back pain and obesity. It is true that many people family end up with struggling with deteriorating health.
Despite the negative effects, the Internet has its positive implications to the well-being of society.
Online shoppers are able to seek out the lowest prices for items or services. Manufacturers, therefore, have to improve product quality and lower price levels in an effort to win the favour of consumers and secure a stable market share. Telecommuting-working at home using a computer is a solution to traffic congestion, the urban air pollution and petrol use.
As outlined above, people’s growing obsession With Internet use, such as online shopping or banking, has both immediate and long-term impacts on health, social involvement, lifestyles and emotional well-being. Although it is of great value from a net surfer’s perspective, people should step up efforts to minimize the negative effects.
1. Alternative = replacement= substitute
4. Telecommuter = tele-worker
5. Social life=spending time with friends and other people
6. Inactivity =idleness=immobility=indolence=sluggishness
Topic 21: Many people are optimistic about the 21st century and expect scientists to make positive changes to the world. To what extent do you agree or disagree with their optimism? What changes would you like to see in the new century?
(industrialization) , (rapid population growth) ( inefficient energy use) (environmental conditions deteriorating) ( desertisation) (decline in fauna and flora )
(incurable diseases), (living on, near or below the poverty line), (boost productivity), ( increase crop yields)
As the 21st century continues to unfold, many technologies have arisen, most of which were previously out of the reach of people’s comprehension. While some people are content with the current standard of living and tend to owe it to technical advances, an opposing point of view is that not all these changes to lives are positive. I am of the opinion that there is still room for improvement and many problems remain unsolved.
The continued improvement in technology undoubtedly accelerates industrialization but meanwhile leads to the deterioration of the natural environment. Accompanied by technological development, many problems, such as over-exploitation of natural resources, intense use of artificial fertilizers, reliance on automobiles and deforestation, have arisen and intensified. Even worse, little progress has been made toward addressing these problems, possibly because implementing environmentally friendly policies will inevitably impede the development of energy-intensive industries. That is why the use of petrol continues to climb, despite the fact that many countries pledge to curb petrol use and discover or invent alternative resources.
Another problem is that many technologies have put people at great risks and highlighted the need for innovation. For example, the spread of the Internet is directly responsible for people’s sedentary lifestyle and many health problems, such as obesity. The rise of the fast food industry, owing mainly to the development in the food processing technology, is linked to diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Many stress-related diseases are attributed to the increasingly fierce competition in society, a result of technological development. Fears of job loss have become one of the most common sources of social anxiety in these years, as computerization has undermined the traditional position of labour by eliminating jobs. All these problems demand quick solutions.
Some other problems are associated with technology as well, although the actual impacts remain unforeseen. For example, the future of genetic engineering, a radical new technology intending to introduce genetic changes to a species, either animals or plants, and to increase crop yield, is dim. To date there is no compelling evidence to show that GE food has a good track record for human safety, especially when it has been found related to thousands of poisoning cases.
Overall, whether technology is a blessing to people remains yet to be seen, so does what the 21st century can bring to them. It seems to be a fact that whenever a new technology arises, there must be some problems that follow. When people are impressed by the benefits brought by a new technology, it is important to evaluate its negative impacts and take precautions in advance.
1. Unfold=display=disclose=clarify=become known=reveal
2. Content=satisfied =pleased
5. Track record=past performance=reputation=background=history=profile
6. Precaution=preventative measure=safeguard
Topic 22: Many employees may work at home with modern technology. Some people claim that it benefits only workers, but not employers. Do you agree or disagree?
( home working )
(introduce flexibility), (occasional workers) (part time workers) ;
(reduce interruptions and commuting time),
(increase staff motivation ), (reduce stress) ;
(save office space and other facilities), (reduce costs)
( manage home workers (monitor performance) ;
(maintain staff development), ( lead to possible deteriorating of employees’ skills and work quality) ;
(maintain team spirit), ( lack communication), (a sense of isolation among home workers );
The spread of telecommunication technology-using the Internet, telephone, fax, scanners or text messaging-has opened up a new range of possibilities for working at home. Discussion has centered on whether it represents a benefit to workers alone, but not employers. In my opinion, employers can take full advantage of home working as well.
By allowing employees to work at home, employers can widen the base from which they recruit and boost the chances of capitalizing on rich human capital. For instance, parents with childcare responsibilities and those with disabilities prefer to work at home. Distance between their work place and their place of residence has never ceased to be a problem. Home working enables working people to perform their jobs at ease, and thus gives employers more options in human resource use.
Another benefit obtained from home-working is the boost for staff motivation. By working at home, employees can manage their time on their own and strike a balance between work and rest. Similarly important is that, without the presence of their immediate supervisors, they feel less stressful and more comfortable. Those two factors both play a part in boosting their productivity and job satisfaction.
Apart from those benefits, home working might have its drawbacks. A challenge that employers have to face is the difficulty in managing and monitoring employees’ performance. Whether employees are as likely to meet a deadline when working at home as they are in the workplace remains unclear. Similarly difficult is to maintain team spirit because employees have limited interaction between each other. Furthermore, staff training, an integral part of increasing human capital, is not practical in a business where home working predominates.
Therefore, it is clear that although employers call benefit a lot from integrating home working into his or her business, e. g. introducing more flexibility and increasing employees’ job satisfaction, they should work out methods to prevent the problems that are likely to arise from this move.
1. Represent=stand for=signify
2. Capitalize on= take (full) advantage of=make the most of=benefit from
3. Work place=place of work
4. At ease=comfortably=free from anxiety
6. Team spirit=cohesion=unity
Topic 23: The leisure industry is growing rapidly. The active role of modern technology in people’s leisure lives nowadays has made them less creative. Do you agree or disagree?
(the way of thinking), (bound to their desks), (social life) (practical experience),
(replace manpower), work out solutions to problems under different circumstances)
(receive information passively),(resource);
(the ability to read and visualize images in three-dimensional space), (improve one’s ability to cope with change);
(educational and intelligence-enhancing); (obey rules), (music files), (albums), ( video clips)
Nowadays, leisure time activities are set to play a larger part in people’s daily lives than ever before. There has been a perception that nowadays people could not derive the same pleasure as they did from the entertainment of yesteryear, as technology has made them less creative. This view is open to debate.
The maturity and popularity of network technology, together with the expansion of the software industry, has given today’s entertainment seekers many opportunities to share pleasure, and enhance their intelligence. In the past, people could only play chess, cards, or other similar games with their friends. Now they can challenge other players via the Internet, professional or non-professional, familiar or unfamiliar. Some online games, by simulating real life conditions, enable players to exercise various tactics in dealing with difficulties. They improve players’ abilities as well.
Technology also enables any person in a contemporary society to become enlightened and empowered and exhibits a high degree of creative power. Creativity stems primarily from knowledge. In the past, one’s knowledge developed slowly or even stagnated throughout much of his/her life, simply because the access to information was limited. The situation has been subject to dramatic change, with the advent of modem technology. By gathering information from a variety of sources, modem people can adopt, adjust and restructure different strategies to address an issue. Even in doing simple jobs, such as gardening, dressing, people can expand their creative energy and add new varieties, regarding it as a means of self-expression.
Some people might argue that watching TV, a common leisure activity, has seriously hampered the viewers’ development in creativity. Their argument is based on an assumption that TV viewers are passive when absorbing information presented by TV and respond with no active thinking. However, there is evidence that television programs are becoming increasingly educational and instructive. For example, quiz shows encourage critical thinking, while educational channels, such as Discovery, broaden watchers’ knowledge. While advertisements bear aesthetical and ideological values, talk shows display the art of languages.
What have been discussed above refutes a prevailing notion that modem technologies stifle people’s creativity and make them passive and mechanical entertainment seekers. Modern technologies, as shown in above discussion, have made people more creative, and also given them more enjoyment in leisure activities.
1. Debate=dispute=argument=heated discussion
2. Together with=accompanied by=coupled with=combined with=alongside
9. Stagnate=stand still=languish=remain unchanged
Topic 24: Many people think that public libraries should only provide books and should not waste their money on expensive hi-tech media, such as software, DVDs or videos. Do you agree or disagree?
(take up little space), (easier to manage);(instantly copied),(wear over time),(risk of damage on the pages) ;
(cut down on ink production, paper and lumber production) ;
(reader-friendly), (type, size and font are adjustable), (shared by many people at a time);
( out of print)
(conventional printed book )
(less harmful to eyes), ( Less eye strain over extended reading time); (portable);
(require no power source or reading device)
A library, generally, refers to a place storing and managing books that can be booked or borrowed.
In these years, there is a trend toward integrating new technologies, such as DVDs and videos, in libraries. Opponents argue that the emphasis should be placed on providing books, rather than on increasing modem equipment. Modernization is, in my opinion, an inevitable tendency, although the enlargement of a library’s reserve should not be treated lightly.
One of the main advantages of using computers or other hi-tech products is improving efficiency. By recording information of books such as titles, authors, dates of publishing, or even summaries in a computer system, e-library allows readers to find a book promptly. Likewise, librarians are more able to store, seek out and manage books. Moreover, with the central network connecting libraries throughout a country or worldwide, a library user can easily locate a book in a library wherever it is.
Meanwhile, one should note that e-books have become increasingly popular, increasing the likelihood that e-library will sooner or later take the place of a conventional library. Compared with paper books, e-books not only use much less space but also give readers more enjoyment in reading. For example, readers can customize their viewing experience easily by adjusting font, size and style of characters, accessing the books that have the same subject, and modifying screen contract, and so forth. E-books appeal to young users or children specifically because of its remarkable ability to demonstrate or explain a subject vividly via pictures, videos or even movies.
The importance of updating the facilities is therefore evident, but it should be stressed that the primary responsibility of libraries is to provide as many books as possible to the public. A good library is judged not by the extent to which its facilities are modernized, but by how much information it can supply. The more books the library can make available, the more visitors it can attract. At the international level, nearly every distinguished library gains its fame by providing a vast collection and a delicate selection of books.
As suggested above, the library should focus not only on the installment of modem equipment, but also on purchasing more books. The top priority for a library is to maximize the reserve of books and make the resource available.
Topic 25: Some people think that radio has become out-of-date, and there is no need to listen to the radio for entertainment and news, do you agree or disagree?
(cost-effective), (portable) ;
(print media), ( wider audiences);
(strictly follow the sequencing of content in a broadcast) ;
( audio signals), (video signals, text or graphics),
In the past, radio broadcasting was deemed as the most convenient and important source of information. However, with the emergence of other mass media, there is a perception that radio as a medium will be at stake in the future if it does not undergo any significant change. In my opinion, such pessimism is ungrounded.
One of the main reasons why radio would not become obsolete in the near future is that driving is rife across the world as a way of life. Radio is a regular piece of equipment installed in a car, and to car users, listening to the radio while driving is an effective means of taking full advantage of their time and gaining the latest information, such as news, weather forecast, share markets, and so forth. Increased car use gives radio high mobility and its exposure continues to lead other media. For those people who have no time in watching TV, radio provides immediate and easy access to information. Its continued popularity is also linked to its high affordability. Radio broadcasting is, in general, accessible to the audience with charging no fee. Another overt advantage is that a radio set is portable. On the occasions where people cannot watch TV, read newspapers or surf the net, they can listen to the radio.
The advent of other technologies has also sustained the popularity of radio. For example, people can get radio via satellite, the Internet and cable nowadays. There are many other electronic devices, such as MP3 and MP4 players, which allow people to listen to the radio more easily and to use it for various entertainments, such as sharing their music collections. Although radio is unable to convey messages with sight and motion as television or Internet does, the improvement in those hi-tech devices will ensure that the radio is able to serve the needs of audiences as it always did.
As indicated above, radio broadcasting has many advantages that are scarcely found in other mass media, either electronic or print. With the developments in technology that enable radio to perform more functions and become more widely available, radio broadcasting will continue to form a very large segment of the mass media.
1. In the past= once upon a time =some time ago=in history
2. At stake=at risk=in danger=in jeopardy=threatened
Topic 26: People in many countries do not wear their traditional costume. Some argue that they would forget their history and tradition. Do you agree or disagree?
(national costume or regional costume can express local identity and emphasize uniqueness),
( a source of one’s national pride) ;
(national symbol) (indicate social, marital and/or religious status)
(obvious differences between cultures ),
Traditional costume, both national and regional, is universally recognized as an integral element of every single culture. Despite its importance to a culture and ethnicity, it is now less frequently worn by people, at a time when Western formal and informal clothes are rife. Below are a number of facts that suggest the role of traditional costumes in protecting ethnicity and identity.
Wearing traditional costumes, first of all, reminds people of many distinct characteristics of their culture. How people perceive their traditional costume shows the extent to which they are willing to respect and retain their cultural heritage. In Vietnam, for instance, female office workers are generally required to wear Ao Dai, a traditional dress, as a custom being handed down from generation to generation.
It is a national symbol, giving millions of Vietnamese a sense of ethnic identity, wherever they are. Besides, it represents cultural values of Vietnam and shows the perceived position of females in a Vietnamese society. Despite the success of Ao Dai, it is a rare example in today’s world, where most of the traditional costumes have been marginalized by Western-style business suits. People see national costume only in theatre, film and TV.
Another point to support the importance of traditional costume is their presence in many social settings. Traditional costumes are required on many occasions, either formal or informal. Generally, they come in two forms: one for everyday occasions, the other for festivals and formal wear. Both have cultural meanings. For example, in many societies, a considerable number of traditional costumes evolved specifically for the wedding ceremony, and the wedding couple, as well as guests, are expected to wear traditional clothes, a symbol of eternity and solemnity. Traditional dresses in most cases differ in styles and vary according to circumstances. For example, in China, ceremonial clothing tends to be dark while lighter-colored clothing is worn mainly by the common people for everyday life and around the house use. As the culture is very often reflected in the way of life of a society, the role of traditional costumes in a culture is undisputed.
Traditional costumes are therefore, worthy of people’s concern and should be preserved; however, it does not necessarily mean that one should wear traditional costumes all the time. People wear clothing in general for functional reasons. Traditional costumes are of cultural and social importance but might not suit every circumstance.
For example, exercise clothes are needed when people participate in physical exercise and play sports. Western-style suits are used more broadly on formal occasions where people of different cultural backgrounds gather for serious issues, such as business. Dressing in a standard manner is a demonstration of respect, the key to mutual trust.
As shown above, the costume, as a distinctive style of dress of a particular people in a particular country, should be distinguished from the wardrobes people are wearing every day in ordinary settings. Failing to maintain the unique characteristics of traditional costume of a country will surely cause destruction on the integrity of a culture.
Topic 27: People think that old buildings should be knocked down and give way to the new buildings. Do you agree or disagree? How important are old buildings to us?
(symbol of the social customs and history of a place), (cultural resource) ( old architectural works)
(preserve cultural values), (a rich variety of architectural heritages),
(create its identity); (bridge the present and the past history),
(establish some variations among the buildings),(historical roles);(grand high-rising structures)(variety)
(historic buildings) (archeological sites) (restored to its original/ authentic state of existence),
( of economic values),
( aged buildings) (an antithesis of development), ( lack of economic values) ;
(craftsmanship), (commitment of time and money) ;
( worn out), .(not in a usable state),
Every item of property has its own lifespan. So does every building. City planners are very often confronted with a debate concerning whether an old building should be deconstructed or maintained. In my opinion, it depends on whether the targeted building can satisfy the needs of the city.
There is no denying that some old buildings are of aesthetic, archaeological or architectural values. They might be either integral to a culture as a symbol of a city or country or unique in the domain of architecture. Demolition of such buildings will inflict damage to cultural heritage and prevent architects from drawing their inspiration from their predecessors. Because of their uniqueness, old buildings are very likely to provide a source of tourism income, if maintained well. It is fair to say that old buildings of this kind are much more important than any new building and performing more functions than any new building does.
With regard to other old buildings, possessing no specific value while becoming dilapidated, entire destruction is an acceptable and understandable decision. Low in quality and poor in conditions, some old buildings are actually posing a danger on users and pedestrians. They might stand in the way of a new road line or impede other forms of urban development. Whether they have been renovated or not, these buildings blemish the landscape and provide no justification for continued maintenance. Replacing old buildings with new ones meets the renewed needs of the city.
In summary, whether to conserve or pull down old buildings is a question that can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. People involved should carefully weigh up the pros and cons of new developments before reaching a conclusion.
1. Lifespan=lifetime=natural life
2. Deconstruct=demolish=bulldoze=knock down=pull down
5. Demolition=destruction=pulling down=knocking down
13. Weigh up=assess=evaluate=compare=estimate
Topic 28: Some people believe that new buildings should be built in traditional styles. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?
(architecture or a style of buildings) (symbol of the social customs and history of a place), (With cultural resource}, (classical architecture ) (preserve cultural values); (a rich variety of architectural heritages), (high Wight or create its identity);
(establish some variations among the buildings), (the landscape in the immediate vicinity )
(copy from the buildings of a bygone age ) ( originality ) (creativity)
(craftsmanship); (building materials and decora have details ) (commitment of time and money)
Architecture is an integral part of every single culture. Accordingly some people suggest that new buildings should be constructed with a classical style, in an effort to protect a nation’s cultural identity. I agree with their recommendation that maintaining a nation’s cultural identity is a priority.
New constructions might not only cause direct damage to those existing aged buildings, which are central to a nation’s culture, but also destroy the integrity of the cityscape, which characterizes a country. Over the past decades, there has been a growing recognition that architecture is an element that distinguishes one culture from another. That’s why people are not surprised to see that buildings differ in styles from country to country. New constructions, if not aligned with the existing buildings, will impair the uniqueness of an architecture style, which has been widely recognized, studied and treasured by the world.
Another main justification for upholding a traditional building style is that it contributes to the diversity of building models in a country. By preserving classical architecture, some regions are marked by the mingling of buildings of different ages and types. Many cities in Europe can be cited as examples, where buildings in a traditional or ancient format coexist with modernized buildings, performing different functions and serving dissimilar purposes. It bridges the past and the present history, and reminds people of the heritage of a country. Lt creates a modem identity of a region or country as well.
Despite the role of old architecture works in retaining cultural heritage, not all the buildings should be necessarily designed and constructed in a traditional pattern. On the one hand, it is at odds with diversity.
It comes as no surprise that ceaseless pursuit of a classical style will result in the sameness of buildings in a country. On the other, traditional building models require specific craftsmanship and building materials, which are neither affordable nor accessible to every developer, so they cannot be applied on a large scale.
From the points enlisted above, it seems obvious that architecture is an approach of preserving a nation’s cultural heritage, so new construction should be undertaken to adhere to a traditional style. Although it might not be reflected in all buildings, it does play a great part in maintaining and reinforcing cultural identity of a region or country.
3. Characterize =feature
4. Aligned with=consistent with=in harmony with
7. Coexist=exist together
9. At odds with=contrary to=in opposition with
Topic 29: It is more important for a building to serve its purposes than to look beautiful. Architects do not need to worry about whether it is a real work of art. Do you agree or disagree?
(please the eye), ( understanding of the built environment) ( the exterior and the interior), (creativity), (blend into its setting);
(aesthetic qualities), ( structure, color, texture, ornamentation, lighting), (reflect a personal style),
( needs, interests, values and sentiments); (marketability) ;
(visual appeals ) ; (have no market value ),
( integrity), ( cramped conditions),
Buildings, not very different from other commodities, perform various functions and serve varying needs of their users. At the centre of the controversy is whether the purposes of a building should be placed above its aesthetical values. As far as I am concerned, these two qualities are not conflicting, but mutually beneficial.
In a modern society, aesthetical considerations are no longer considered as insignificant or luxury but have been integrated as a core function of a building. People have comprehensive requirements on a building. No longer limited to such ordinary functions, such as safety, durability, space, access to facilities, their interests involve decorative details and visual qualities, including ornamentation and furnishings. In simple terms, a pedestrian-looking building is bound to mismatch the trend of the market.
Meanwhile, it is worth mentioning that some types of buildings are broadly expected by the public to possess aesthetical values. Standard examples include restaurants, theatres, churches and so forth. A building falling in these categories desires a design of originality and rarity, aiming to distinguish itself from other constructions of its kind or those in its surroundings. Architects’ inspirations add values to the building and increase its marketability. Many buildings have become symbolic in the city or region where they are located.
When being concerned with the aesthetic aspect of architecture, people should consider economic feasibility. The focus on the exterior of a building alone will lead to the increase in construction cost, making such an endeavor unjustified. In those cities where overpopulation continues to be a problem and many people cannot afford housing, whether a building looks beautiful would not be taken seriously. In that situation, the rationale is to accommodate a huge population, rather than simply please the eye.
Based on the arguments outlined above, adding visual appeals to a building is consistent with the needs of a modem society. However, it does not l1:eal1 that the concern on aesthetics should be at the expense of a building’s practical functions; on the contrary, a building should be the result of the delicate balance between the two ideals.
3. Bound to=set to=expected to
4. Mismatch=fail to match or suit
6. Marketability=profit-earning ability
7. Symbolic= representative
10. Rationale=underlying principle
Topic 30: Do you think a museum is to educate or entertain people?
(house a large collection of selected objects) (forbid physical contact); (provide interpretations), (provide entertainment);
( concentrate on the host region’s culture), (concentrate on a particular subject),( ethnology), (anthropology ) ( unfamiliar, abstract and uninteresting),
(operas and concerts), (movies, videos and videotapes) ( increase income by increasing attendance), (similar to entertainment businesses);
(items on exhibition ) ( entertainment value),
Museums have long been known as centers of research and education. By acquiring, conserving, researching and exhibiting a great variety of tangible items (such as artifacts and specimens), museums are of great educational value. However, this notion has been refuted by some people in recent years, which tend to think that museums are intended for entertainment as well. In my opinion, a museum can serve dual purposes, although education tends to play a larger part.
Museums impart knowledge to visitors through different means. One is collecting and displaying objects of scientific, artistic or historical importance at a specific site. Staff members working for museums are trained to provide interpretations of the collected objects to the general public. Viewing these items enables visitors to acquire knowledge of a given subject, such as history, art, environment and technology. History museums are for example concerned with specialized aspects of history at the local or national level. Another approach taken by a museum is to invite specialists to lecture regularly in different fields, which is instructive as well. An entertainment business, by comparison, hardly serves an educational purpose.
In addition to the way it operates, a museum is distinct from any operator in the entertainment industry in some other aspects. First of all, museums are entirely not-for-profit. Although sometimes charging an admission fee, a museum very often has free entrance, and does not engage in any profit making activity. It does not target any specific audience like an entertainment business does. Instead, it is open to the general public. Museums, meanwhile, choose items on display not according to their commercial values but according to the line of items they mainly focus on. For instance, a history museum would focus only on those items that are of historical value, although those items might not have sufficient market value.
However, a noteworthy development of museums in recent years is related to entertainment to some extent. Similar to other educational institutions, museums have to balance their budget. Many museums have therefore sought to operate more activities to attract more visitors, in order for an additional entry fee to cover costs. In addition to the traditional services, such as making collected objects available for public viewing, and organizing lectures, a museum is interested in such entertainments as films, musical or dance performances, most of which are linked to the culture of its host region. Art museums, for example, bear a close resemblance to art galleries, in exhibiting a wide range of artworks. Museums falling in this category give visitors pleasure, and can be taken as a provider of both knowledge and entertainment.
As suggested above, there are many benchmarks against which a museum can be made distinct from an entertainment provider. Some museums are now providing services in overtly entertainment nature, although educational for the most part.
1. Artifact =ornament = manufactured article = work of art = object
2. Specimen =example = sample
3. Refute = contest = rebut = disprove
4. Lecture=make a speech=give an address
5. Instructive = informative = educational
6. Resemblance = similarity = likeness = semblance
7. Benchmark = standard
8. Overtly = openly = clearly = obviously =explicitly
Topic 31: People tend to work longer hours nowadays. Working long hours has a negative effect on themselves, their families and the society, so working hours should be restricted. Do you agree or disagree?
(easily induce fatigue and stress), (a threat to health);
(a drop in leisure time), (lead to work-family conflicts ) ;
(long hours are not necessarily productive hours); (extra pay ) (high pay can’t compensate for unrelenting time pressure);
(low morale), (high absenteeism and turnover},
( commitment toward their work )
( improve take-home pay )
( increase job security and promotion opportunities)
In recent years, working hours have become a controversial issue, at a time when employees’ benefits have been given serious thought. Although the extension of working hours is believed to have an impact on general well-being and result in work-family conflict and job stress, this practice is remarkably popular in many countries. I am supportive of the argument that long working hours have a negative impact upon individuals, the organizations they work for, and ultimately upon the national economy and society as a whole.
To job holders, working long hours triggers at least two problems. It is not only to damage personal relationships (with families particularly), disrupt social lives and impede community activities but also to cause a feeling of stress, a psychological disturbance that is experienced by many working people. It also tends to exert pressure on the employment market and make fewer employment opportunities available. Those with caring responsibilities for example, would be disadvantaged, because they are either unable or unwilling to work long hours. A high unemployment rate is always regarded as a threat to a country’s economy.
To employers, long working hours, although promising maximum benefit from limited resources every now and then, have destructive effects in the long term. The primary reason is that employees tend to be less productive, and meanwhile, at greater risks of sickness. It would lead not only to the lower quality of work outputs but also to high turnover and absenteeism. As a result, employers have to spend much more on recruiting and training new workers. To a country as a whole, it has chronic effects, disabling the optimization of resource use, human capital and natural resources.
Some might argue that it is reasonable for an employer to expect some degree of flexibility during a particularly busy period, but to those employers, reliance on the jobs with extended hours has the tendency to become a regular event. Tolerance of this practice would allow employers to exploit labour and disregard the benefits that employees are entitled for, thereby posing a challenge to the legal system. It is time that employers assessed alternatives like re-scheduling, flexible working arrangements and job redesign to explore the full potential of each employee.
As shown from the above discussion one can see no reason why working long hours is acceptable.
It would lead to low productivity and frequent sick leaves, thereby doing more harm than good to employers and the society alike.
1. Impede=hold back=hinder=hamper
2. Productive= fertile = yielding
4. Optimization=best use
6. Disregard=pay no attention to=ignore=take no notice of
Topic 32: What is the difference between traditional food and fast food?
(food is supplied quickly after ordering (time-conscious people), (those who live independently ) (those who lead a sedentary lifestyle ) (preserve local and traditional food );
(highly processed), (prepared in an industrial fashion),(standard ingredients cooking methods), (food engineering) ;
( uniformity), (preserve freshness);
(low cost), (uniform flavor );
(addictives ). (reduce nutritional value); (very dense in calories), (gain weight);
( diversity), (local ingredients harvested in season) ;
(family reunions) (friends’ gatherings) ;
( take longer to prepare traditional meals);
Fast food has come under fire over the past decade, following people’s growing concern on health, when people’s eating habits have shown a tendency to favour fast food; larger numbers of studies have been concentrated on its adverse impact. Below is an outline of some differences between fast food and traditional meals,
Fast food is distinguished from traditional food mainly by the selection of ingredients and cuisines, As distinct from a traditional meal, which has its emphasis on diversity and richness of flavour, taste and choice, fast food is well-known for its high levels of salt, fat and sugar and heavy reliance on meat, such as chicken and beef. When fast foods are processed and prepared for those time-minded eaters who are eager to relieve hunger, traditional foods are diverse and varying. Fast foods might not vary significantly throughout a country, but traditional foods are diversified due to ethnic diversity. That’s why fast foods are very often thought to have direct threats on local cuisines.
Another problem found in the regular consumption of fast food is the high risk of obesity. A typical fast food meal has a very high energy density, much higher than a traditional meal. In many outlets, the choice is so limited that it’s virtually impossible to select a combination of items with even a moderate energy density. Many popular fast food menu items are unhealthy, so excessive consumption can lead to obesity. It is one of the main reasons why many fast food chains have now incorporated healthier alternatives in their menu, e. g. , salads and fresh fruit. McDonald’s is a telling example.
Moreover, it is important to realize that a traditional meal has many of its cultural and social meanings. Although fast food is recognized for its convenience and saving people from the routine of home cooking, meanwhile it discourages people from preparing deliberate meals for their families and friends. People are thus less likely to spend time talking to each other. Having a traditional meal is of importance in many social situations, and can be taken as a unifying element in family life, bringing people together in times of trouble and in times of joy.
As suggested above, the fast food, although cheap and convenient, has its shortcomings and a diet high in fast foods can increase a person’s risk of gaining weight and other health problems. In terms of health, its impact on cuisine, community spirits and family solidarity, the real costs of convenient foods are shockingly high.
1. Under fire=embattled=under attack=debated
2. Cuisine=style of cooking=cookery=knowledge of preparing good food
Topic 33: As most people spend a major part of adult life at the place of work, job satisfaction is an important part of individual well-being. What are the factors that contribute to job satisfaction? Are all the expectations for job satisfaction realistic?
(job security), ( basic pay), (job-related benefits);
(working conditions), (able to cope with work pace);
(good rapport with coworkers, peers and superiors);
(career development) (receive training and counseling) (development of capabilities), ( attainment of full potential) ;
(receive recognition), (given the opportunities or innovation and creativity), ( experience a feeling of success)
(Expectations varied as their experience changed.), (educational background) (social settings)
Job satisfaction refers to the degree of pleasure employees can feel when working. It is of broad interest to employers because of its potential impact on productivity and morale of employees. Of those factors that contribute to job satisfaction, some are intrinsic while others are extrinsic. Both will be introduced below. In the latter part of the essay is a discussion concerning whether one’s expectations for job satisfaction are always appropriate.
Most of the factors that have influence on job satisfaction are extrinsic. One is employees’ material needs. It is understandable that income, housing, paid holiday, bonus and other job benefits are the main elements an employee will normally look into when evaluating whether a job is desirable or not. Another source of satisfaction is job satisfaction. An employee is delighted if continued employment is accessible, that is, staying on a job for some considerable time. Besides these basic needs, people crave for a positive self-image and to have their contribution valued and appreciated. That’s why promotion is very often manipulated to improve employees’ job satisfaction, sending a message to employees that their commitment has been recognized.
Along with extrinsic factors, intrinsic factors are important. Individual personality plays a large part in many cases. It is believed that the employees with a positive outlook on life and full of optimism are more likely to achieve higher job satisfaction irrespective of the job or workplace they are in. When optimism allows individuals to function well in the face of adversity and prevents them from becoming depressed, pessimism makes them less likely to complete tasks and meet objectives successfully, thereby undermining job satisfaction.
Given the constantly changing nature of today’s business environment, a job can hardly live up to the expectations of job holders. Weak economies, rapidly changing technology and likelihood of downsizing are combining to account for why the length of tenure is shortened nowadays and few people now expect to stay on the same job throughout their working lives. Rewards are able to raise motivation and increase satisfaction of employees, but not available for every individual that wants them. There is no guarantee that every good performer will be awarded all the time. Law of the jungle applies here: only the strongest competitors will win access to the majority of the resource.
As suggested above, job satisfaction is attributed to different factors, both extrinsic and intrinsic.
The complexity of today’s work environment has made it less likely for people to get whatever they desire from a job.
1. Morale=drive=spirits=positive feelings=confidence
4. Outlook=what is expected to happen in the future=prospect
5. Irrespective of = regardless of
6. Adversity=hardship=difficulty=harsh conditions=hard times
8. Law of the jungle
Topic 34: Some people think that changing jobs periodically is good. What is your opinion?
( job-hopping )(make the best use of one’s abilities) , (improve skills and gain new experience); (switching jobs) (acquire a wide array of technical skills), (enhance the resume), ( improve marketability and job security), (pay raise);
(Improve skills and experience levels), (continued employment will be meager) (vulnerable to the competition); (in terms of career survival). (There is no room for complacency); (take on new challenges and seize opportunities), (a sound career move);
(leave the current employer ) (a sense of anticipation) (generate an enthusiasm to learn)
(do more harm than good to one’s career); ( adjust to the new environment), (get along well with new colleagues and supervisors), ( seen as a threat) (readily being recognized) ;
(reflect badly on the job candidate’s resilience and loyalty), (lack of self-motivation),(directionless /aimless ) , (gain experiences and on-the-job skills). (restart a new recruiting process)
In this fast-changing world, job-hopping (leaving the current employer for another employment opportunity) is not a rare scene. Much has been discussed about the gains and losses of such a career move. In my opinion, job-changing is an inevitable step in today’s labour market, reflecting the nature of a modem society.
A new job implies opportunities for career development, an objective many working people intend to achieve.
In general, there are two reasons behind a job holder’s motive for a new job. The first is that the current job cannot make the best use of his or her abilities. The second is that he or she cannot improve skills and gain new experience. Both can lessen the possibility of a brighter job prospect.
Job-hopping, meanwhile, assists one to survive the keen competition. People are living in a fast changing world and a once stable job is now vulnerable. Willingness to stay on the same job is no longer valued as much as before. Any employee, if complacent about the current employment, would be faced with threats posed by others. By comparison, taking the initiative to obtain a better job can at least drive people to increase skills and thereby improving the chance of continued employment.
When job-hoppers are craving for new chances, some issues are particularly worthy of concern.
The first is adjusting to a new environment, such as working with new colleagues and supervisors. Besides, while valuing a job hopper’s resume, employers too often tend to suspect his or her loyalty and resilience. It is therefore imperative for every potential jobseeker to learn the new employer better and evaluate the potential risk.
The above-mentioned facts give one a glimpse of the potential results of changing jobs. When the willingness to change a job and sees an opportunity represents a sound career move and provides the thrust for self-development, it might require a job applicant’s extra efforts.
1. Inevitable = inescapable= unavoidable
3. Vulnerable=in a weak position=defenseless
6. Crave for=long for=desire=yearn for
8. Glimpse=glance=quick look
9. Thrust=driving force=impetus
Topic 35: What are the factors that cause stress and how to cope with stress?
(inadequate leisure time), (live a high pressured, fast-paced lifestyle); (poor time and money management), (juggle work and family commitments); ( addictions), (gambling) ( stocks) ;
( the environmental factors), (career concerns), (social relationships) (family problems) ;
(thoughts/ attitudes toward financial difficulties, academic difficulties, chronic illnesses, minor matters),
(Personality), ( unrealistic expectations), (events and situations)
(proper eating contributes to feelings of well-being) , ( exercise regularly); ( balance obligations and set priorities) ;
(become accustomed to your daily activities and overlook their cumulative effect), (nurt1Lre a good state of mind) , (block out worries); (be assertive), (positive challenge, not a threat);
(balance work and family); (turn to others for support), (resolve conflicts with other people); (release yourself from daily stresses with group sports, social events and hobbies)
Life today is filled with sources of stress, much of which cannot be avoided. When stress appears to be a lifelong problem to many people, how it actually forms remains a subject of controversy to many scientists. The objective of this essay is to outline both the sources of stress and appropriate ways of dealing with it.
Many stressors arise from people’s circumstances. For example, the high-pressured and fast-paced lifestyle has made it unlikely for people to gain adequate leisure time. Failure to balance work and leisure causes them either to struggle with deteriorating health or to cope with psychological distress, e. g., anxiety and depression. Together with some other problems, such as disharmony with others, unpleasant work or living environment, it would increase stress to an unmanageable level.
Another group of stressors is intertwined with personality. People interpret events or situations differently. A problem taken as a threat by many people might be accepted as a positive challenge to others. Evidence is inconclusive about the reasons behind this distinction, but it is widely believed that a person of a cheerful disposition is less likely to be heavily affected by adversity. Of equal importance is the ability to handle with some issues, such as time and money. Considering the role of personality in deciding the attitudes toward an issue and responses to an event, the effect of stress management skills actually varies from person to person.
Methods to cope with stress are many, but the most effective ones are in fact not remote or complicated but accessible and practicable. People under stress are advised to participate more in recreational activities, adopt a sound dieting habit, and exercise regularly. They should learn to block out worries and try to keep the effect of a challenge in life to a minimum. Finally, it is important to nurture a good state of mind and to perceive things positively.
As suggested above, environment factors can be taken as the sources of stress and people’s personality determines the extent to which they are influenced by those factors. Adopting a, healthy lifestyle and proper attitudes toward life can promote people’s physical and psychological well-being and help them relieve stress.
2. Form=develop=take shape
3. Life style=way of life=daily life=everyday life
10. Block out=erase=forget=wipe out
Topic 36: Fashion is difficult to follow, and some people argue that we should not follow it. They think that we should dress what we like and feel comfortable. Do you agree or disagree?
(following fashion )
(a means of self-expression)(reflect one’s personality or likes), (allow people to try on many roles in life) , (diversity and variety of the world in which we live);
(fashion in the new era) (root in daily life), (ret1ect that life) (consider consumer demand), (not as superficial as some people think)
(follow fashion blindly ), ( dwell too much on what others think)
(associate clothing with status, social class and wealth).
Fashion refers to a style of clothing worn by most people of a country. The growing concern about fashion in recent years comes as no surprise, considering the fact that fashion is very often at odds with the traditional function of clothing, protecting wearers from the extremes of weather. In my opinion, it is always interesting to find that individuals take different views toward the nature of happiness and the access to it. As far as I know, the perception of happiness differs considerably from one individual to another as a result of the mixed effect of individual characteristics and environmental factors. These elements determine the approaches taken by different people to attain happiness.
People have different objectives to attain and different interests to pursue in a lifetime, and meanwhile, their objectives and interests vary in different life stages. One has the passion for toys as a child, fashionable clothing as a youth, an admirable occupation as an adult and possibly company of family members as an elder. With age one’s attitudes, capabilities and concerns are subject to change. Following the latest fads, for example, appeals to young people, despite the expenditure of time and money. By comparison, senior people are hardly interested in keeping their clothes in fashion, buying trendy consumer products or changing a hair style, and moreover, tend to regard them as a wasteful use of money.
In addition to those factors that are visible, some factors are less obvious and tend to be subjective in influencing one’s perception of happiness. These intrinsic factors include one’s temperament, characters, pursuits and philosophies. Taking monetary wealth as an example, people perceive the value of money differently. Some people sacrifice everything in their pursuit of wealth, whereas some people take money lightly. Instead, they treasure family, friends, hobbies and philanthropy. It is also one of the reasons why people see favorable events differently (such as a marriage, a family reunion, lottery winnings, a promotion, and so forth) and react dissimilarly to troubles or bad luck, for example, accidents, conflicts, divorce, and so forth.
Considering the fact that people are all motivated to attain objectives for their happiness, they should first evaluate whether the objectives are attainable or not. High expectations for the future might bring nothing but high levels of stress and a sense of disappointment. Setting attainable objectives is a recommended alternative. Another step to be taken is giving different weight to different subjects, such as money, health, growth, fame, power and relationships. Few people can attain several objectives at a time. The key is to identify the top priority.
1. Subject to=influenced by=exposed to
4. Sacrifice=give up=forgo
Topic 37: Some people think that telling the truth is not always essential. It is necessary to tell lies sometimes. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(spinning), ( shading) ( misleading) (Honesty is regarded as a core virtue) (build up mutual trust )
(less stressful), (statements are consistent)
(lies of necessity )(little white lies)
(benign), (protect/spare a person’s feelings), ( lighten the embarrassment), (forced to lie); (minor)
Few subjects are as likely to provoke controversy as the necessity of lying. Those who defend lying contend that truth might not be always desired, while untruth provides the best solutions 011 some occasions in the real life context. This argument seems absurd at first sight, but with some facts closely examined, one can see some strong elements lie within it.
The first justification for lying is that a Lie is not necessarily immoral. Instead, it can be benign and beneficial. There are occasions in life on which people have to conceal part of the truth or even twist facts. For example, it is acceptable if one withholds a fact from a friend or family member that he or she is diagnosed with cancer. It is to give the patient a peaceful frame of mind, a condition that has a healing power. From this example, one can observe that while a falsehood is condemned by many on ethical grounds, it in fact shows sympathy and goodwill.
Another justification is that lying, in the broad sense, has accompanied people since the early childhood as part of the daily routine. The boundary between lies and white lies or banters is blurred. Sometimes people tell a lie, or to be more precise, overstate or downplay a fact for amusement or other social purposes. A telling example is that people often compliment their friends on the food they prepare, despite the fact that the meal is not enjoyable at all. People are taught to spare another person’s feelings, rather than speaking something straightforward that can cause discomfort or distress.
Although the preceding discussion tends to excuse a lie teller, it does not justify lying as an entrenched habit. Honesty is still being regarded as a core virtue in many traditions. There is little doubt that a man who is known for his candour is more likely to earn respect than a man lying habitually, a truth-telling environment is what communities are striving to establish. Lying should not be allowed unless it is appropriate, as it creates an ethos of distrust.
From what has been discussed, it is unfair to label lying as an unethical. People’s more standing depends as much on their willingness to look after others’ feelings and please others for better moods as on their adherence to truth. While telling a lie is accepted or even recommended in some situations, telling the truth is what people pursue as an honorable tradition.
1. Untruth=lie= falsehood
7. Frame of mind=mental condition
9. Banter = tease =joke
11. Compliment=praise=pay tribute to=remark favorably on
14. Entrenched=ingrained= deep-rooted=fixed=unshakable
15. Virtue=good value
Topic 38: Today, people are getting greedy and selfish. Some people argue that we should go back to the old days, and show respect for the family and community, so that we can make the world a better place to live in. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(disregard the wellbeing of others ) , (individualism) (collectivism).(communalism).(egoism ) (altruism), (submit his or her own will to the general will), (do what is in one’s own self-interest), (unrestricted pursuit of individual goals and desires); (hinder one’ pursuit of self-development, excellence and creativity) ( egoism) (refrain from taking the well-being of others into consideration), (solidarity); (Self-interested behaviour is to hurt individuals themselves. )
Perhaps the tendency toward individualism has never been clearer than it is now. People seem to become increasingly self-centered and snobbish. I side with those people who believe that reviving the bygone concept of family and community is important.
The rise of egoism has profound consequences on the unity of a family, causing the breakdown of family solidarity. Every component of a family can be detrimentally affected, if one member is egoistic. “Blood is thicker than water”, as an old saying indicates. People will turn to family first if they are confronted with problems. People used to live in a community in which they lived according to an ethos of sharing and caring, but nowadays, members of a family tend to work separately for their individual benefits. They are ignorant of the fact that families not only give them tangible benefits (e. g. financial aid), but also offer emotional support from which they obtain strength, comfort and confidence.
Egoism also causes people to ignore the good of the community, a problem that is disruptive to the community. So greedy are some people that they can go so far to engage in illegal activities. For example, some merchants earn handsome incomes from producing disqualified products and cajoling people to buy what they do not actually need. They, meanwhile, refuse to plough back any fraction of their income to the community. Individuals become indifferent to others’ interests and the relationship between individual members tends to become superficial, transient and ad hoc. People remain as onlookers when neighbors ask for help, and social solidarity has been dismantled in front of the overwhelming egoism.
As shown above, greedy and egoism are set to bring both the society and the families in grave trouble. The best way to prevent people from further loss in social solidarity and community unity is to reconstruct the concept of family and community, show esteem to one’s family, friends, neighbors and even acquaintances, and recover a sense of community and social cohesion.
2. Side with=support=back
6. The good of the community
10. Plough back=reinvest
13. Ad hoc=unprepared=unplanned=improvised=informal
Topic 39: Creative artists should be given freedom to express their ideas through words, pictures, music or films. Some people nevertheless think that the government should restrict artists’ freedom of expression. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(Support free expression):
( enrich cultural life ), ( enhance the quality of life );
(develop aesthetic appreciation ), (encourage development, recognition and appreciation of local performers, musicians, artists and writers ) ;
(the compelling public interest in advancing viewpoint diversity) ;
(embed a political message in their work), (place some issues under the limelight) ;
(misinterpret the intentions or spirit of the speaker or writer),
(inhibit/abridge free expression ):
(obscene works), (art works with violent images), (art works that promote racism),( art works that bold a religion up to ridicule)
(doodle),(farce)(caricature) (lack respect and sensitivity to the feelings of religious or ethnic groups) (attract criticism ) (arouse hostility ) (cause conflict)
In principle, every person has the right to communicate his or her views by any means and in any form, known as the right to freedom of expression. However, there has been a lot of debate as to whether artists should be given unrestricted freedom to express their thoughts through their works, such as words, pictures, music and films. I am of mixed opinions on this.
Although a citizen’s freedom of speech is protected by law, artists should not be treated as ordinary citizens. Because of the wide appeal of their artworks, the artists can easily enlist the empathy of the audience and make their views profoundly influential over public opinion. On the other hand, freedom of speech does not automatically suggest that one has the freedom to express any opinion, make any statement and deliver any message regardless of contents. If it contains racial elements, radical views toward government, and other objectionable contents, the freedom should be restrained. Artistes are not an exception. A good example is that in 2005, a Danish newspaper published 12 editorial cartoons that depicted an Islamic prophet, resulting in violent protests and conflicts worldwide.
It shows that the arts possess the power to ruin harmony and promote anarchy.
Apart from artworks that cause social and political unrest, some other types of artworks should be censored as well. In order to increase the visual impact of their works of art, some artists introduce unusual or even offensive images, without looking after the feelings of intended audiences. Many obscene works appear in the guise of artworks, abuse graphic sexual images and expose the public to those unwelcome messages. It will pose a threat on the welfare of the audience, especially that of children. The authority should discriminate between artworks and obscene works and impose limits.
When artists should not be treated as normal people in view of their unique capacity to influence others, their freedom of speech should be protected to the largest extent. Undeniably, their creativity would be inhibited if they are threatened by censorship or prosecution. Many of their artworks might look objectionable at first sight, but over time give people different perspectives to see things. Artworks inspire people to be creative and encourage them to reflect on what happened in the world or in the immediate vicinity. They draw attention to particular issues, which might be otherwise ignored. By encouraging critical and reflective thinking, an artist contributes to addressing social and political issues.
According to the above discussion, people can come to a conclusion that artists are entitled to freedom of speech, although some of the artworks should be thoroughly examined before being made available to the public. It would minimize the risk of causing chaos and discomfort in society-a negative consequence of the unlimited freedom of artists.
2. Enlist= procure
11. Vicinity=surrounding area=neighborhood
Topic 40: The advance of science and technology has a significant impact on people, but the role of artists is also important, such as musicians, painters and writers. What can the arts tell us about life that science cannot?
(one’s perspective, individuality and context), (come up with novel approaches to problems),
( conform to existing rules);
(take different forms and varies greatly in different societies), ( produce cultural diversity); (stress the sameness of different objects), (follow the principles on which the world operates);
(no longer satisfied with material comforts), (spiritual needs), (change attitudes toward life), (provide positive outlets), ( achieve a balance between work and pleasure); (over commitment might cause anxiety and depression)
Unarguably, the improvement in people’s living standard owes much to technical advances, which are driven by science. So important is science that the functions of art are contested by many people. I believe that the arts can convey some messages that science can never be able to convey.
The arts represent human thoughts, whereas science represents natural order. In other words, the arts lead people to perceive the world while science is aimed at discovering the nature of things. What has been found true in science would hardly alter, unless sufficient evidence can be cited to challenge or overrule the established theories and principles. By comparison, what has been conveyed by a work of art is neither right nor wrong, and can be given different meanings by different people. Science sometimes treats a new theory as an erratic and stresses conforming to existing rules and pursuing accuracy. Science is about exploring the undiscovered but existing, in contrast to the arts, which are interested in exploring both the undiscovered and the nonexistent. In simple terms, the arts encourage individuality and creativity, whereas science respects conformance.
Another major distinction is that the arts draw attention to issues that are unique in a particular society, while science attaches importance to the issues that are of interest to mankind as a whole. Contrary to popular belief, artwork does not necessarily aesthetically appeal to a majority of viewers. An artist’s primary motive is not only to pursue the aesthetic in the popular mind but also to remind people something that they cannot afford to ignore, such as environment, religion, politics, morality, and so forth. A scientific breakthrough, by comparison, brings benefits that can be shared by the whole human society, but not unique in any specific community.
The arts also give people a sense of cultural background and identity, as a key component of any culture in the world. By contrast, technology and science are uniform to people, regardless of nationality, race and ethnicity, Art has long been a way of passing ideas, concepts, beliefs, values and ways of seeing things to later generations. Because of art, people can be classified into different social and cultural groups.
In conclusion, the arts differ from science in many aspects and because of it, people know more about the world in which they live and get an insight into the society, culture and themselves. While science is objective and based on predetermined guides, art is inherent in the human mind and subjective.
1. Perceive =see = recognize =consider
2. Overrule= reject = cancel = annul
3. Erratic = irregular = unusual
4. Conform to=adhere to=obey=cling to=stick to
7. Ethnicity=the ethnic group one belongs to
Topic 41: The government should control the amount of violence in films and on television in order to control violent crimes in society. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this action?
(Increase the chances that viewers learn or contemplate using violence)
(Desensitize viewers to the horrors of violence),(proficiency in committing violence) (anti -social acts)
(Exaggerate the magnitude of the real threat). (fear their safety), (warn the audience of the legal proceedings of violent behaviors);
(Reactions or views toward violence differ from individual to individual),
Because of their prevalence, televisions and films are among those media that are believed to potentially affect, change or mould people’s thoughts and behaviors. Media watchdogs suggest that some programs should be censored so as to curb violence. It is necessary, for the link between violence in media and violence in society is evident.
First of all, violent movies promote heroism and individualism, cajoling people to resolve conflicts through violence, rather than legal consultation. Some action movies have conveyed a notion to the audience, especially teenagers, that a hero can be highly regarded, regardless of the consequence of his behaviour. Audiences imitate those role models, in a belief that their behaviour will reap applause from others. In most cases, their actions evolve into violent crimes.
Another category of programs, war documentaries or crime reports, also opens up the possibility of viewers engaging in violence. Aiming at a high audience rating, TV program producers are inclined to broadcast crime reports. Some reports can go so far as to present the whole procedure of a law-offending practice, such as robbery, shoplifting, burglary, to mention but a few. Not surprisingly, it functions like a free course from which prospective criminals learn those skills. It contributes to the rise in crime rates and then to the increase in violence that is involved in different kinds of crimes.
As well as those TV shows, action movies have a profound impact on personality development of viewers, leading to their subsequent violent acts. Dominant entertainment media succeed in attracting millions of young viewers every single day. The audience can easily become addicted to TV programs and tend to be isolated, temperamental and aggressive. They use foul language and employ violence when feeling depressed or estranged. There is no point in denying the fact that the TV is the chief culprit for these emotional disturbances and erratic behaviour patterns.
To summarize, the violence in movies or on television can impact audiences in a variety of ways, and eventually lead to crimes. Therefore, the government should take actions to tackle such a problem and censorship is undoubtedly one of the most effective means.
1. Prevalence =popularity=pervasiveness
2. Consultation =discussion=talk
3. Role model=model=example=exemplar
5. In most cases=most of the time=in general=more often than not
6. Audience rating
Topic 42: Some people suggest that there should be restrictions on a detailed description of crimes in the newspapers and on television. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(heroic violence), (performed by heroic characters), (idolized by movie fans);
(desensitize audiences to crime scenes), (rampant and inevitable)
(educational and informative), ( increase the knowledge of laws) ,
(draw attention to certain crimes), ( take precautions and pay attention to self-defense)
The violent contents broadcasted by the mass media (the television and the printing press in particular) have been singled out in recent years as a matter of urgent public concern. It has been argued that a detailed description of crime, especially violent crime, should be restricted. I agree on this suggestion based on the following concerns.
There can be little doubt that a complete description of crimes has a direct impact on viewers’ perception of crime, including its nature and impacts, ongoing exposure to reports on crime scenes has desensitized viewers to the horrors of serious crimes such as homicide. Many TV programs tend to dramatize the process of tracing criminals. So immersed are viewers in the storyline that few are encouraged to link the crime to a brutal, unsympathetic and devastating act. Meanwhile, hardly has any newspaper or TV editor carried out a follow-up study of convicting criminals. This form representation fails to alert viewers to the fact that no criminal can stay at large and all offenders will be brought to justice.
Meanwhile, the depiction of violence is potentially the primary cause of “copycat” suicides, fights, shootings and bombings. People are inclined to vent their discontent in various ways, and one of the most common is violence. The documentary on a criminal or violent act provides them with role models, those characters who initiate most of the acts of violence on television. The portrayal of those characters encourages viewers to emulate violent behaviour, believing that their acts are likely to be acknowledged.
Despite its enormous effects on the audience, the description of crimes on television or newspapers should not be made a scapegoat for all social violence. It would divert people’s attention from the root causes of violence. Some depictions of violence are likely to contribute to harmful effects on viewers, whereas other portrayals may be pro-social and beneficial for the audience. For example, many programs encourage no-violent alternatives to solutions. Similarly, television and newspapers have played a significant role in educating the audience about the advantages of building a non-violence community and the inadvisability of excessive drinking, car racing, drug using and other unlawful acts.
As suggested above, media violence, including the detailed picturing of violent acts, contributes at least partly to social violence and to the audience’s aggressive thoughts and behaviour. However, there is no simple cause-and-effect relationship between media violence and societal violence and both have multiple causes.
1. Single out=select=highlight
4. Immersed in=absorbed in=engrossed by=captivated by
7. Convict =sentence=find somebody guilty
8. Representation = portrayal = description = account
9. At large=free=at liberty
Topic 43: We can get knowledge from news, but some people think we cannot trust journalists. What do you think? What qualities do you think a successful journalist should have?
(political pressure) ; (commercial interest) (news organizations )
(viewpoints), (cultural background),
(Social class), (religious belief), (cater for audiences), (collect soft news as a rumormonger), (conceived) (fabricated)
Today, it is important to note that the public has a growing appetite for different content areas of news, including national, local, entertainment, sports, politics, weather and traffic news. With news becoming increasingly important, public attention has been brought to the creditability of journalists. In my opinion, it would be over-simplistic to say that journalists can convey all messages to the audience without distorting them.
Not surprisingly, whenever people talk of journalism, objectivity is the first word that springs to mind. Reporters are generally expected to disclose all facts and uncover all sides of an issue without introducing any bias, as opposed to commentators, who are allowed to provide personal opinions. However, in reality, objectivity is hard to achieve. Journalists have to succumb to either commercial or political pressure, distorting facts and misleading the public. In many countries, news organizations are controlled entirely by powerful political parties and enjoined to disregard the truth and disseminate information that guides public opinions.
Another factor contributing to the erosion of journalistic standards throughout the news business is that in these years, increasing weight has been given to following news values, entertainment, oddity and celebrity. To cater for the tastes of wider audiences, journalists can go so far as to twist the facts, fabricate news and spread rumours. Many news media ha.ve a clear preference on media personalities and use their public appeal to increase viewing rates, giving these publicities, who hardly remain neutral, numerous opportunities to express their opinions publicly on a subject in which they have a personal stake or bias. It is thus fair to say that news is now less trustworthy.
In general, a successful journalist should be first able to use careful judgment when organizing and reporting information. Determination and persistence are required when journalists ought to defend the freedom of the press and ordinary citizens’ right to know the truth, despite being under different forms of pressure. In addition, they should be sensitive to and interested in current affairs at all levels. In acting as successful communicators and information senders, journalists should also have a good command of language skills and a real knowledge of different cultures, countries, races and social groups.
As shown above, people have reasons to suspect the creditability of a journalist. Either as a medium that deliberately affects the public interest or as a form of entertainment that does not attach much importance to seriousness, journalism has failed to maintain objectivity and live up to ideals of journalistic responsibility. Without showing respect to freedom of express and conveying messages accurately and promptly to the public, one cannot be acclaimed as a qualified journalist.
1. Appetite for-hunger for-craving for-desire for
3. Talk of=consider=discuss=talk about=talk over
5. Succumb to=yield to=give way to=surrender to
7. Weight =importance=significance=emphasis=stress
9. Rumour =gossip=anecdote
11. Bias =prejudice=preconception=preconceived notion
12. Trustworthy=dependable= honest=reliable
Topic 44: People think that the news media has influenced people’s lives nowadays and it is a negative development. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(take measures to tackle the problem) ;
(communicate helpful information to concerned citizens) ;
(keep us informed of what is happening in the world );
(give an exaggerated account of an issue), (a false threat) , (cause panic) ;
(Profit motive),(entertain consumers), (emphasize conflict, dissension and battle);
(not enough respect for the privacy of people )
For many people, news is a regular part of life. An issue in dispute is whether the massive influence of the news media on people’s daily lives denotes a negative development. It is my view at news media does more good than harm to the society.
The news media provides people with much of the information they need on a timely basis, although there are claims that it reports on issues and events purposely (only selecting those events that interest the audience). Anecdotal evidence shows that people from all walks of life have the habit of collecting information regularly from the news media, including print, broadcast and Internet-based media. Information assists people in decision making. For example, the Free Trade Agreement reached by the Chinese government and its New Zealand counterpart might open up many opportunities to both countries. For any business person, either in New Zealand or in China, failing to recognize and capitalize on this impending change would cause a costly loss.
Meanwhile it should be recognized that the news media can sometimes save lives and reduce casualties. There is a lot of uncertainty about the surroundings, and people are susceptible to the damage caused by accidents, crimes and natural calamity. The news media conveys the firsthand information to concerned audiences and enable them to take corresponding actions right away. The authority can declare a state of emergency when it is necessary, organize evacuation and distribute aid to the needy areas. All these efforts count on the news media as the messenger.
Despite their significant and ongoing contribution to the society, the news media might sometimes be harmful to society. It is a convention that the news media exaggerates the magnitude of the real threat (for example, the potential of a terrorist attack), in order to draw the attention of the desired audiences and in pursuit of high audience ratings. It ends up with causing panic among the population. Meanwhile, the news media tends to emphasize some issues or events, which virtually have little relevance to people’s daily lives, such as an occasional multiple vehicle accident, an affair that a celebrity is involved with, and the like. It distracts the audience from something that is much more noteworthy, for instance, poverty, environmental problems, to name but a few.
In summary, the role of news media as an information provider should be acknowledged. In case of emergency, it acts as a lifesaver. However, it is not to say that the news media can give people an overall view of the problems in society all the time.
2. Capitalize on=take advantage of=make the best of
Topic 45: There are many advertisements directed at children. Parents argue that children are misled, while advertisers consider advertising a source of useful information. What is your opinion?
(Advertising bas a persuasive nature), (make exaggerated claims about the properties of products), (difficult to understand and interpret information) (cannot determine the truthfulness of the message); (induce children to buy products), (food and toy advertisements);
(higher exposure to advertising, greater desire for advertised products)
(represent a particularly important product information source (receive positive information through advertisements)
(Public service advertising, non-commercial advertising);
(Older children and younger children respond differently to advertising), (think more deeply about what they are viewing);
(give little attention to the screen during advertisement breaks)
The impacts of advertising on children have become an area of focus in these years. When the initial purpose of advertising is to disseminate information related to goods and services, many parents have associated it with their children’s unjustified desires to buy something unnecessary. Although the extent to which advertising influences young viewers is a matter of debate, its impact, in my opinion, is undisputed.
One of the main features of advertisements is giving products an exaggerated account. In addition to this tactic, advertisers tend to stress those attributes of a product that are likely to be valued by young consumers, while playing down others. Some advertisements might disclose detailed information about products (such as health hazards of overeating some types of food), but in most cases, such information appears normally in small print and children cannot read them clearly. Nor can children comprehend the messages with their literacy skills. As a result, young viewers are susceptible to the effects of a commercial, leading directly to their subsequent buying decisions or their thrust for buying.
Another main strategy adopted by advertisers is to associate products with lifestyles that are attractive to young people and deliver a strong message that the advertised products are what their peers want and will choose: Children are more concerned with a particular label and branded products than adults, for the simple reason that they are much less price sensitive. They have the desire to possess products they consider popular, fashionable and likely to be admired by their peers, but seldom take into consideration the functions and practical values of those products.
When the negative impacts of advertising on children are acknowledged, it should be noted that as children grow up, they will make more sophisticated judgments about those tactics advertisers use to grab their attention. They are less receptive to advertising messages and meanwhile more likely to perceive advertising as a mere source of information, assisting them to learn products and services better. Meanwhile, some advertisements are non-commercial and provide information on such issues as anti-smoking, anti-drug, AIDS, healthy eating practices, and so forth. In this sense, it is premature to judge that advertising has no redeeming feature.
To summarize, by enhancing the image of advertised products, making exaggerated claims on products and services and portraying a fantastic way of life, advertising is liable for children’s impulsive purchases. Children are misguided to make a purchase. Although adolescents are less susceptible to the misleading information, the advertisements that are marketed to children should be restricted.
5. Play down =make light of=underplay=talk down
6. Thrust=driving force=drive=impetus
7. Label=brand=brand name=trademark
8. Receptive to=tolerant of=open to=accessible to
9. Redeeming feature=advantage=strength=merit
Topic 46: Do the positive effects outweigh negative effects, when advertising gains in popularity?
(disseminate market information), (inform consumers of new products), (enable a more qualitative choice between products to consumers) ;
(Encourage competition in quality), (encourage product innovation), (enrich their lives) (improve living standards) ;
(enable greater volumes to be sold), (promote economic development)
(claims or visual images that directly or indirectly mislead the consumer) ;
( hardly provide full disclosure of product characteristics), (abuse the consumers’ trust), (exploit their lack of experience or know ledge ), (manipulate them)
(unwelcome intrusion) ;
( add to the cost of every product)
It has always been difficult to assess the contribution of advertising. This issue is fraught with controversy, with concern being expressed over the harmful effects of advertising. Below are some arguments against this concern.
It is important to recognize that one of the key functions of advertising is to supply consumers with adequate and accurate information about all of the alternatives available to them. Every now and then, advertising is criticized on the ground that it can manipulate consumers to follow the will of the advertiser; however, evidence supports an opposing view that advertising merely promotes products that are most likely to satisfy consumers’ wants. In simple terms, it is consumers rather than advertisers who decide what are advertised.
Advertising also plays a significant role in fostering full employment and facilitating economic well-being. By conveying marketing information constantly to the target audience, advertising speeds the consumers’ acceptance of new goods and technologies. It guarantees the high turnover rate of the manufactured goods and therefore, sustainability of a business. It is also agreed that advertising is one of the main sponsors of a large number of other industries, for example, the entertainment industry particularly sports, music, and theatrical events.
Unarguably, advertising is criticized every now and then for misleading the public. However, the rapid development of advertising itself has provided a solution to this problem, as the information delivered to the audiences has made them knowledgeable consumers. Under this circumstance, they can easily distinguish inferior products from quality products with their knowledge. The misleading effect of advertising will be counteracted over time.
To summarize, advertising suggests what consumers need and contributes partly to economic development. In this sense, advertising is of great value to people and the society. The general perception of advertising as a source of misleading information is in fact a bias.
1. Fraught with=full of=filled with=burdened with
Topic 47: Some people argue that advertising is discouraging people from being different individuals, and makes people to be or seem to be the same. Do you agree or disagree?
(Fickle and unpredictable) (Lasting loyalty), (react differently toward an advertisement)
(Serve a single segment) (match the psychology and interests)(the ability to consume rests significantly on the disposable income an individual possesses);
(have a real knowledge of the market), (differentiate its product or service), (reduce potential monopoly power),
(create false wants), (daydream about things), (partake in a fashion trend)
(on the spur of the moment), (out of peer pressure),
( create a best-seller image for a newly-marketed product)
Perhaps no subject in the world is as likely to cause so much controversy as advertising does. One of the main criticisms against advertising is that it erases individual’s sense of identity and causes them to buy the same product. This view has flaws.
By tempting messages and persuasive arguments, advertising can draw the attention of the audience, but not necessarily stimulate the sales. It is clear that consumers rarely rely on advertising as a single source of information before deciding what to buy. Instead, they use multiple information sources that are complementary, such as family, friends, inspections, and so forth. It is over simplistic to say that advertising plays a decisive role. Most of the time, there are a range of factors a consumer would take into account, including their income levels, circumstances, and so forth. For instance, when it comes to luxury goods, only a limited number of consumers respond with a final purchase. Therefore, however persuasive an advertisement is, never can it lead to the viewers making the same purchase.
Meanwhile, consumers have low tolerance for sameness. There is much uncertainty about the preference of consumers nowadays, primarily because they have easy access to information. An existing brand is vulnerable to any new entrant. Brand loyalty is something of the past, and the rise and fall of a brand is abrupt. Even if brand preference is established because of advertising, there is no assurance it will be maintained. It seems to be an entrenched tendency of consumers to try different products. The main reason behind the high unpredictability of consumer behaviour is unclear, but it is certain that consumers will not buy the same product.
However, people should meanwhile admit that advertising has every now and then contributed to consumers’ unplanned purchase. Banners, signs, flags and other visuals, for example, turn unintended shoppers successfully into impulsive buyers in their mundane shopping trip. Another function of advertising is to make people live in a world of fantasy, in which they consider themselves prettier, slimmer, richer and more outstanding. Advertising also succeeds in creating peer effect. It is not unusual that one buys something on impulse without knowing much about the product but merely assuming that his or her peers are using it.
As suggested above, individual’s reactions to advertisements and preferences on a brand are inherently complex and unpredictable, simple cause-and-effect conclusions are elusive. Despite boosting the sales of a product or service, advertising can hardly make any product or service dominate the market.
1. Erase=wipe out=remove
5. Multiple=various=a compound of
12. On impulse=on the spur of the moment= on a whim=impulsively
Topic 48: The high sales of popular consumer goods reflect the power of advertising but not the real need of the society where such products are sold. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
( the role of advertising r) (be aware of their needs);
(however powerful advertising is), (constrained by income, family or other elements), (to a greater or lesser extel1t) ( the limits of what they need);
(false or misleading commercials),
(potential consumer), (fol1ow the trend);
Advertising is well-known as a method of promotion, a method used by corporations introduce their products and services to the market, attract the eye of consumers and increase sales. Critics of advertising argue that advertising is the main drive of soaring sales of some products and services, inducing consumers to purchase what they do not actually need in their daily lives. This contention is self-evident.
Advertisements conquer the audience mainly by sending them a message that they are lacking a specific brand or product that is likely to make them acceptable or even distinguished individuals in society. The advertisements as to medicine, dietary supplement and other life-enhancing products provide a typical example. Targeting the buyers that are doubtful or worried about health, advertisers have sought to encourage them to think that they are threatened by such problems as malnutrition, dysfunction of any part of their bodies. Lack of the knowledge in this field, the audience will rush to buy the advertised products. Such cases are ever-present, and the audience expects an immediate positive outcome disregarding other solutions.
Advertising also works to create a best-seller image for a newly-marketed product. The audience is tempted to buy it in the hope that they can thus become one of the eyewitnesses and participants of a fad. It is not uncommon that cell phone users replace their phones every year, although the phone they have abandoned is still in usable conditions. They might not actually need to make purchases so frequently, but advertising spurs them to do so. The power of advertising has too often abused by advertisers, who tend to give an exaggerated account of the popularity of a product, soon after the product is marketed. So gullible are some buyers that they are driven to buy it. With the number of buyers growing, it will evolve into a buying craze.
In conclusion, people should stay alert to the influence advertising has on their decision making process. As indicated above, advertising has twisted the information about what product is needed, or what product is favored, thereby driving people to make insensible buying decisions.
2. Dietary supplement=pills to improve health
3. Target= aim at
6. Disregard=pay no attention to=ignore=take no notice of=close the eyes to
9. In usable conditions=in working conditions=in serviceable conditions
10. Give an exaggerated account of=exaggerate
Topic 49: Advertising encourages customers to buy in quantity not in quality. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(sales promotion) (part of a marketing process);
(whether a mistake is serious or easily recoverable)
(The effect of advertising is temporary, not lasting.).
(perform primary functions);
(dispose of excess production)
Living in the information age, people are bombarded with substantial daily doses of advertising in multiple media. The argument that advertising, with its overwhelming power, leads to consumers’ impulsive purchase has been accepted by more and more people. Consumers are encouraged by advertisements to purchase products in quantity without paying heed to quality. This allegation is flawed, as far as I am concerned.
The first fact to note is that despite the strength of advertising, viewers remain as decision makers.
They gather information from advertisements based on their own interest. While some people focus on quality, others are concerned with price. Likewise, advertisements stress different aspects of a product, either quality or price, which is determined by contexts. Consumers are now desensitized to the information delivered by commercials and become increasingly cautious. Quality is, in most cases, a primary concern to them. Even those most loyal users of advertising are now concentrated on product quality, believing that neither pricing nor advertising is an effective facilitator of sales and consumers’ satisfaction with quality is the key to repeat purchases.
Price is perhaps an inducement used by marketers to trigger sales, but other elements, such as product package, functions, after-sales service and warrantee, appear to gain in importance. Advertising informs people of more choices, allowing them to make a buying decision according to their needs and favour a product for different reasons, either quality or price cuts. Needless to say, people have become more circumspect than ever before and more prone to the interaction of other factors, such as the advice of their friends, past experience, current knowledge and physiological state.
It is also necessary to draw a line between the concept of marketing and that of advertising. Advertising alone is not able to contribute high sales and the link between advertising and product usage is in fact not clear. In its broadest sense, advertising is merely a means of generating demand in society by offering specific information on a product or service in a persuasive format; it is similar to sales promotion, package sales, low-pricing strategy and other marketing techniques. Advertising simply conveys the message relating to price, rather than creating this message.
The facts outlined above, when taken together, are in favour of a view that consumers take in the information delivered by an advertisement differently, and they are influenced by a variety of factors and driven by forces in a decision making process. Quality is of concern to them in most cases, instead of price.
4. Stress =emphasize=underline=underscore=accentuate
5. Desensitized to=indifferent to=uninterested in
6. Concentrate on=focus on=be conscious of=be immersed in
7. Inducement= stimulus
9. Interaction =interplay
Topic 50: Some industrialized countries have serious environmental problems. The damage to the environment is an inevitable result when a country tends to improve the standard of living. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(at the cost of environment ) (obsolete equipment and machinery ) (unchecked and reckless use of resources) (afforestation), (make most of renewable energy, including inexhaustible natural resources, like the Sun)
A question central to today’s environmental debate is how economic development and environmental protection interrelate. Some people maintain that no economic target can be attained without some sacrifice made to the environment. As far as I know, there are a couple of complementary components, if operated properly.
For businesses, large or small, taking environmental consequences seriously can impel them to improve their production lines, make optimal use of materials and resources and increase the profit margin. For instance, the adoption of environmentally friendly equipment can reduce waste, minimize pollution, and decelerate the depreciation rate of machinery. Meanwhile, it can reduce businesses’ expenditure in compliance with environmental standards. The third merit is boosting loyalty of employees, who have an appreciation for the safety and comfort of their working environment.
By adhering to environmental standards, industries will also make a favorable impression on their clients, build up word of mouth reputation and trigger sales. Some large industries in the past, when asked to take actions to make their production less environment-damaging, were worried about the proportional rise in operational costs. Their attitudes are now subject to modification, as the expense of improving equipment is temporary, and can be paid off by forthcoming profits. Customers are keen on products made from an environmentally conscious business, in a belief that its products are free of pollutants.
When businesses have become more profitable, more money will be available for revamping the environment. Probing the core of environment-related issues, one can observe that people are more likely to consider the possibility of incorporating environmentally friendly practices when enough funds have been raised and alternative livelihoods have been explored. Illegal logging for example; centralizes in underdeveloped countries every year, where people are unable to find jobs. In comparison, economically-developed countries show more willingness to invest in forest conservation, as their industries rely less on natural resources and have become service-oriented.
To summarize, economic development and environmental protection are not inimical, but complementary. They are inextricably intertwined, and can be promoted simultaneously.
10. Pay off=recompense=reimburse
13. Probe=look into=investigate
15. In comparison=by comparison= by contrast
16. Inimical=contradictory=at odds=conflicting
Topic 51: Environmental problems are serious in many countries. It means that the only possible way to protect the environment is at an international level. To what extent do you agree or disagree on this hypothesis?
(Unilateral moves are not enough) (take strong multilateral actions), (time-consuming and inefficient), (isolated problems),( tackled by the local or government)
(Regional), (worldwide), (share the Earth’s supply) (transport pollution from one location to another);
(causes and solutions differ from one region to another), (International practices might not apply locally.)
Globally, environmental degradation has been recognized as one of the main challenges that people have to overcome in the 21st century. The rapid deterioration of environment is believed to impose a severe threat on people’s survival in the years ahead, if not solved effectively. In addressing this issue, countries worldwide should join forces and make a concerted effort, instead of working individually for inconsistent targets.
The first point to support international cooperation is that the impact of an environmental problem can be on the global scale. Common knowledge is that people live in a global environment and share natural resources and survive on the same biosphere. The interdependencies of ecosystems and the transport of pollutants are the main characteristics of the world. For instance, a stream or lake in a country can be affected by pesticides released from neighboring croplands, lawns and gardens and by pollutants emitted thousands of miles away. Likewise, the depletion of a natural resource (such as deforestation) in one nation can have environmental and economic ramifications in many other countries.
Another benefit obtained from international cooperation is facilitating the exchange of goods, technology, know-how and capital. It is crucial to hammering out the best and quickest solution to the problem. Environmental problems are mainly found in underdeveloped countries, where industrial or agricultural developments are placed ahead of environmental protection. With a clear intent to restore the damaged environment, those countries have difficulties in making headway, in the absence of facilities or technologies. They need the support from the global community, especially those industrialized countries that have achieved remarkable progress in this field. By sharing experience in environmental management, countries can tackle problems with greater efficiency and at lower costs.
To summarize, cooperation between countries is inevitable in this global campaign, not only because the ecosystem is a unified mechanism but also because international engagement can make optimal use of financial and human resources. By collaborating with each other, countries are able to protect the global environment with using the least amount of resources.
2. In the years ahead= in the years to come
3. On the global scale= at the international level
4. Interdependency=interaction=interplay=mutual dependence
7. Hammer out=arrive at=work out
8. Underdeveloped countries=developing countries=countries in a backward state
11. Make headway=make progress
12. In the absence of=lacking=without
Topic 52: Some’ people believe that air travel should be restricted because it causes serious pollution and will use up the world’s resources. Do you agree or disagree?
(environmental destructive gases), (the ozone layer), (jet planes);
(noise and water pollution)
( other vehicles), (boats, trains and cars),
(industrial air pollution) (car emission), ( technological development) (fuel-efficient), ( mitigation measures have been taken);
The issue of the impact of air travel on the environment has heated up in recent years, following the concern that more and more people turn to it as a means of travel. Restrictions have been preferably imposed on air travel, according to some people. There are some points in their argument.
The first is that aircrafts have been responsible for a large proportion of air pollution. Planes, either idling or taxiing, contribute a large proportion of local emission annually; some might suggest that air is the only suitable mode of transport for long distance trips. This viewpoint is fallacious. Trains, for instance, serve as an optimal alterative, consuming less energy and causing less pollution.
As well as air pollution, aircrafts can cause noise pollution. Although it is difficult to measure the actual impact of noise on people’s everyday lives, its ability to increase the anxiety and levels of annoyance has been confirmed, Especially to those living in the neighborhood of an airport and around the flight paths, noise created by aircrafts is indeed a headache.
Although travelling by air is likely to cause problems, it is not to say that a travel should be significantly restricted. Alternatively, air travel can be operated in a manner that its strengths can be fully taken advantage of. For example, by replacing old engines with cleaner ones, people can mitigate the environmental impact caused by flying. Meanwhile, aircrafts have a higher capacity, allowing greater numbers of passengers for each flight and thereby giving the best possible values to the fuel used.
In the light of the facts outlined above, substantial thought should be given to the problem of pollution caused by aircrafts. However, it does not automatically mean that air travel should be curtailed. Instead, people should make adjustments and improvements wherever appropriate to ensure the optimal use of this form of travel.
1. Turn to=resort to=rely on
2. Idle=stay unused=remain redundant
3. Optimal=best=most favorable
4. Confirm=verify=prove true
6. Form of travel=means of travel=mode of travel
Topic 53: It is said that the best way to solve the world’s environmental problems is to increase the price of fuel. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(low income families}, (public transportation). (driven to develop the vehicles that are powered by other forms of energy),
(discourage people from using petrol), (irreplaceable means of transport) ( chaos ill fuel market) ;
(distract attention from the root cause of the problem); (create cleaner fuels ) (generation of renewable energy)
The burning of fossil fuels is universally recognized as the largest source of emissions of greenhouse gases in the world and one of the key factors responsible for global warming. When there is a growing concern about the destructive effects of global warming and other environmental problems, some people argue that the best approach to deal with such problems is to increase fuel prices, assuming that it will lead directly to the drop in car use. This approach is productive to some extent, but some other measures should be given equal consideration.
It should be first noted that car use alone does not take up the entire consumption of petrol, although people’s obsession with car use contributes greatly to greenhouse gas emission. Petrol is intended for other applications too, such as electricity generation, the daily running of equipment and machinery for industrial and agricultural purposes. People are not surprised to see that the appliances used by many families are powered by petrol as well. Therefore, when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, people should take different methods simultaneously, instead of relying on any single method only.
People should meanwhile recognize the fact that the demand for petrol is generally inelastic, at least in the short run. The consumption of petrol would not vary significantly according to the fluctuation of petrol price. To such a high degree have people relied on petrol in their daily lives that they cannot cut petrol use immediately. Some people might argue that using public transport is an alternative, but notably, public transport itself is a large producer of carbon dioxide. Going on foot or by bike is clean, but not preferred by many people, who are extremely time conscious.
Therefore, the effort to reduce greenhouse gases emission by curbing car use cannot achieve any immediate outcome unless sufficient time is given. Over a period of years, petrol consumption is very likely to drop, when households realize that fuels represent an increasing proportion of expenditure. People might turn to fuel-efficient cars or reduce non-essential trips, both resulting in the drop in petrol use. Car manufacturers are forced to enlarge research and development investment in producing hybrid cars or cars powered by renewable clean energy sources, a cure-all for car emission problems.
In conclusion, imposing petrol tax is neither the main nor the only solution to environmental problems that people are struggling to solve, although the utilization of fossil fuels, particularly petrol, is the largest source of emissions. Some other methods should be taken into consideration as well.
1. Take up=occupy=make up=constitute=account for
2. Obsession with=fascination with=passion for
4. Cure-all=panacea=universal remedy=solution
Topic 54: Water resources around the world are falling deficient. Analyze the possible reasons and provide your suggestions.
(no access to safe drinking water)
(inefficient use),(unsustainable use of groundwater resources),(rapid population growth) , (increasing fanning, industrial and domestic demand) (pollution (harvest rain (aquifer protection and recharge) ( wastewater recycling )
Access to water is vital to every living creature on the planet. Despite the fact that approximately two thirds of the earth surface is covered with all forms of water bodies, countries worldwide are faced with different levels of water shortages. Some reasons can be cited to explain the emergence of this problem.
A trigger for a water crisis is people’s lack of knowledge of the value of water. Given the ready availability of water in many countries, people tend to believe that the reserve of water in the world is infinite. Notwithstanding the increased expenditure on water supply, water is perceived as a cheap commodity by many families. Many people see water as a perpetual resource. For this reason, the unbridled use of water is commonplace, accelerating the exhaustion of this valuable resource.
Rapid population growth is another force contributing to the water crisis. Not only does it reduce the amount of water available for manufacture, fanning and households, but also has a profound effect on the sustainability of aquatic ecosystems. Massive urban and industrial growth fuels unprecedented demands, often at the expense of aquatic ecosystems. Many water resources are not replenished before being re-used and depleted.
Human-induced pollution is worthy of concern as well, a factor regarded by many as the root cause of the rapid loss of drinkable water. The untreated discharge of various pollutants such as heavy metals, organic toxins, oils and solids in water bodies is believed to have severe impacts. Industrialization, meanwhile, results in abnormal climate and biological destruction. While some areas have become barren, other areas are hit by floods. Floods ravage everything, including reservoirs, dams and cannels, the water supply problem will intensify.
As noted above, the steady loss of water is attributable to inappropriate usage, population growth and pollution. In order to tackle the above-mentioned problems, one can adopt various approaches, besides the existing strategies, such as restoration of ecosystems, rainwater harvest. New technologies can help ease water shortages, by tackling pollution and making used water recyclable. In agriculture, water use can be made far more efficient by introducing new farming techniques (e.g., drip irrigation). Drought-resistant plants can help cut the amount of water needed.
4. Aquatic =water-related.
6. Deplete=reduce=exhaust=use up=drain
7. Toxin =contaminant= pollutant =poison=noxious waste
Topic 55: Many people believe that the human society has developed into a throwaway society, which is filled with plastic bags and rubbish. What are the causes and solutions?
(population growth ) (the increment of rubbish) ;
(awareness of waste issues);
(over -consume ) ( short-lived or disposable items)
(discharge of refuse) ;
(modify industrial production), (reduce raw material inputs) ;
(disposal and recycling schemes)
Although waste disposal does not grab a headline as frequently as many other environmental issues do, it does not mean that it is less serious. As a matter of fact, the treatment of garbage continues to be a problem worldwide. Despite its sizable influence, many citizens have not yet realized the seriousness of this issue. It is the goal of this article to outline the potential causes of this problem and suggest possible solutions.
People should first recognize that the increment in garbage is a natural result of the social and economic development. Unethical businesses are the main creators of industrial waste, including heavy metal, chemicals, plastic, and other durable and non-recyclable materials. People’s quest for a better standard of living gives them incentives to manufacture a rich variety of consumer goods and disregard the potential impact on environment. This practice can date back to the earliest days of industrial revolution, producing enormous waste that are unable to be recycled and causing an environmental disaster.
Another potential reason for the slow progress in waste treatment is people’s low awareness of the opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle waste. Many people do not have a firm stand against overconsumption and excessive production of disposable items. Besides, many citizens are not environmentally conscious, disposing of wastes whenever and. wherever they consider convenient. Meanwhile, many manufacturers tend to use virgin materials, rather than recyclable materials in the course of production. That’s why many communities are facing a particularly difficult position in waste treatment.
The best approach to address waste issues is simply to minimize its generation. It is primarily because the more waste people produce the more waste they have to cope with. Waste recycling offers another means, although it requires the spontaneous commitment of both businesses and citizens. Additionally, laws should be set out to regulate corporation behaviour and make their operation environmentally friendly.
It is clear that the problem of waste disposal exists due to people’s ever-growing demand for manufactured goods and slow response to the impact of this problem on the environment. Tackling this problem depends not only on individual’s effort to keep the waste to a minimum but also on businesses’ attempt to optimize their manufacture and reduce the inputs.
5. Earliest days=outset =start=onset
9. Virgin material=raw material
10. Set out=lay out=enforce
11. Input=resources used
Topic 56: Food can be produced much more cheaply today because of improved fertilizers and better machinery. However, some of the methods used to do this may be dangerous to human health and may have negative effects on local communities. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(organic fertilizers), (manure); (inorganic fertilizers),(man-made fertilizers, normally chemicals) (chronic and accumulative effects);
(stunt growth of wild plants), (bigger stronger plants), (lead to higher output) ;
(produce drought-resistant plants), (crop varieties that withstand pest attacks)
(reduce soil fertility) , (soil degradation), (reduce agricultural productivity);
(acquire more resistance);
(pollute land and destroy local ecosystems), (damage life) ;
(persist and build up in the body),
(reduce biodiversity), (homogeneous diets)
Fertilizers and machinery used to be welcomed by countries worldwide as essential elements of industrialized farming, a landmark in the history of global agriculture. However, because of being used on a large scale worldwide, they have caused heated controversy, there is ongoing debate on the possible damages of industrial farming caused to the environment and humanity. In my opinion, both are still irreplaceable, although efficient and scientific utilization is highly recommended.
Fertilizers and machinery are both essential in increasing crop yields, a solution to starvation throughout the world. In history, manual work accounted for the majority of farming, from sowing, irrigating to harvesting. The slow pace of human labour made it impossible to produce enough crops to feed populations. Farming is, on the other hand, exposed to the influence of many elements-weather conditions, soil compositions, pests or some unpredictable events like natural disasters. Fertilizers enhance crops or other foods’ resistance to external disturbances, while machinery saves manpower by finishing the major part of the work. The yield is raised to the highest, and lauds are used to the full. Enough food can be produced to meet the market need now, despite the continued growth of the population.
Some people defy fertilizers and machinery because of their concern on environment. However, this notion has been challenged by advances in this area of knowledge. Technological innovation has made machinery more environmentally friendly, and many machines used for fanning purposes are now able to operate without generating much waste. Fertilizers, by comparison, are much less environment-damaging. Most fertilizers are organic and free of ingredients incompatible with the environment. Nor do they have deleterious effects on people’s health.
Despite what has been discussed, farmers should beware of over-application of fertilizers. From all environmental perspective, fertilizers and machinery should be classified and used with caution. The over-application of fertilizers not only has perpetually disastrous effects on farms but also injures the neighboring ecosystem. Many scientific studies suggest that a long history of fertilizer use can significantly reduce land fertility.
Other consequences include poisoning all wildlife feeding on farm crops (e.g., birds), and polluting the neighboring water bodies. On health and safety grounds, fertilizers might bring remediless damage to eaters’ health, for some chemicals, although not fatal themselves, might become life-threatening when accumulating inside eaters’ bodies.
On the basis of the above-mentioned arguments, people are convinced that the sustainable supply of foods still rests on fertilizers and machinery, and the key is to use them properly and in moderation.
1. Humanity=human race=humankind=people
3. Starvation=hunger=food crisis=food shortage
4. Account for=explain=justify=give an explanation for
6. Defy=boldly resist=boldly reject=act against
8. Deleterious=detrimental=life-damaging=1ife- threatening
10. Rest on=hinge on=depend on=rely on=count on
Topic 57: Some people hold that we should spend money and time on the protection of wild animals while others suggest that the money should be spent on populations living in the poorest areas of the world. What is your opinion?
( components of an ecosystem); (preservation and renewal of vegetation, waters and soil )
In these years, animal protection has become a subject of ongoing scientific research and an issue of concern. People take different views toward the enormous spending required by wildlife conservation. It is suggested that the spending should be diverted to helping human populations, especially those living below poverty line, because human life is more valuable than animal life. In my opinion, the investment in animal conservation is worthwhile.
Animals, as a significant part of an ecosystem, have profound impacts on the sustainability of an ecosystem and on the well-being of humanity. All animals are connected in one way or another in food chains. For this reason, the demise of a species can lead to overpopulation or under population of another species and then put this species at the verge of extinction. The natural balance will be disrupted and the ecosystem cannot be sustained. It would disable vegetation from purifying water, recycling nutrient and pollinating crops. We humans are eventually affected.
Another justification for animal protection is that animals play a significant role in the development of industries, as an important natural resource. People derive substances and materials from animals for different purposes. A typical example is that animals provide essential substances for drug-making. It is also very common that designers and engineers turn to wildlife for inspiration. For instance, the invention of water-proof clothing drew upon the research on sharks.
On account .of those benefits, wildlife protection is a significant strategy that has far-reaching effects on the future of human. However, when implemented, this strategy should be adapted in different contexts. It should be noted that spending money simply on animals is not the approach that promises the best outcomes in all circumstances. For example, ill those regions where inhabitants struggle with weak economies and have few job sources, direct spending on any animal program would not stop people from hunting and trading animals for a living. An alternative strategy is creating jobs or providing subsidies, lifting these regions out of poverty.
From what has been discussed, animals are key components of the whole natural order and have relevance to the sustainability of an ecosystem and the interests of humanity. Animal protection is a strategy that applies to the whole world, and might vary in different circumstances.
2. Worthwhile= worthy
Topic 58: Some people strongly oppose animal experimentation, believing that it causes pain to animals, while some other people consider it necessary. What is your opinion?
(recognize the rights of other species), (have no capacity to make moral choices), (replacements);
(minimize pain), ( section practiced on human beings is inhumane.) (bear a resemblance to humans), (respond similarly to external disturbances),
(human interests should be placed above animal welfare),
(the right to life) (the prohibition of torture ),
( industrial products),
( unreliable and misleading), (many differences between humans and animals)
Perhaps no subject in the moral community is as controversial as animal testing. Animals, many people believe, merit more humane treatment. When animal-based experiments have long been the centre of criticism, I am of the opinion that such experiments are essential to both the well-being of human beings and that of animals.
There is little doubt, first of all, that most of the animal-based experiments are conducted for the development of technology and to date, there is little chance of finding satisfying substitutions for animals. Animals are used mainly because they bear a close resemblance to humans, either in behaviour or in cell structure. They respond to external disturbances (such as electrical shock) nearly in the same manner as humans do. There is much evidence that most of what people know about themselves, including pain, stress, reproduction and nutrition, is based on findings of animal-based experiments. Animal testing proves one of the main approaches to predict the risk when drugs or other products are used on humans.
Another fact to support animal-based experiment is that animals are 110t the equivalent of humans, and can be used as resources for human purposes. Animals have no capacity to recognize the rights of other species. Nor will they take in consideration the interests of other species. It is possibly one of the main reasons why animals feed on each other. Humans, by comparison, use animal experimentations not only for their own interests but also for the interests of animals. For example, some medical discoveries can be used by veterinary surgeons to give medical care and treatment to sick animals.
Despite the justifications given for vivisection, researchers have the obligation to reduce animal testing and animal suffering. There is a growing recognition that animal tests are mostly done for commercial purposes and most of them are avoidable. For instance, the cosmetic industry has been exploiting animal experimentation simply for diversifying products and maximizing profits. The fewer cosmetic products people use, the fewer animals they have to slaughter. When scientists are empowered to carry out cruel experiments like vivisection, such powers should not be abused.
To summarize, one can subscribe to the notion that animals can be taken as resources intended for the benefit of humans, although meanwhile it is certain that suffering should be controlled to the minimum during experimentation.
6. Feed on=eat=survive on
Topic 59: Far too little has been done to prevent animals and plants from dying out, although people have noticed this problem for a long time. Why have people failed to improve this situation? What are your suggestions?
(lack of environmental awareness), (have no knowledge of the correlation of living species and ecosystem)
(animals and plants treated as resources for human purposes)
(shrinking space for habitats)
(fund raising), (conservation projects);
(sign international protocols)
(launch campaigns for animal welfare), (raise awareness)
Nowadays, the progressive extinction of living species on the planet-either animals or plants has arisen as a big environmental challenge, according to many scientists and researchers. Despite the growing concern on this issue, little progress has been made in this field. There are some factors that account for why this has happened. In my opinion, this situation can be remedied, provided that some reasonable steps are taken.
The sharp fall in living species is first attributed to people’s continued and heavy reliance on them for their own interests. An age-old tradition is that animals are raised, bred and fed for human use. For example, laboratory animals, working animals and sport animals have been used for economic reasons or to fulfill different tasks throughout much of human history. The meat of rare animals is regarded as a delicacy in some countries, for example, whale meat in Japan. When it comes to plants, over-logging, over-grazing and soil erosion are the root causes of the dwindling vegetation. Over-utilization of living species has made many animals and plants face extinction risk.
Another reason cited to explain this is that few people take the mass extinction of species seriously. For example, fur is desired and pursued as a fashionable status symbol in many countries, even in those countries where people are known for their environmental concern, such as New Zealand, Canada and Australia. Barely have buyers realized that their purchase decisions will encourage the fur business to further animal slaughter. Rainforest destruction is another example. Despite strong opposition to lumber harvesting, this problem continues simply because people have an ever-growing appetite for land to live on (such as buying luxury properties in the country) and wood products to consume (such as furniture). Humans’ pursuit of comfort and enjoyment has long been justified and condoned, even though the pursuit is at the expense of other species on the planet.
From what has been discussed, it is clear that lack of awareness and over-reliance on natural resources are the main reasons why species are being pushed closer to the brink of extinction. Humane education represents a long-term commitment and will help raise a generation that has a real knowledge of environment protection and stays alert to the risk of animal exploitation and ecological degradation. In addition, it is imperative to carefully measure and control any activity that is likely to pose a threat on the survival of species. Decision makers and individual citizens alike should take into consideration the impacts of their decisions and behaviors on living species. It is important to realize that preservation of living species is not sentimental, but essential to the well-being of humankind.
3. Feed=give food to=nourish=raise=bring up
4. Rare animal=exotic animal=endangered animal=threatened species
6. Over-utilization=excessive use= over-exploitation
Topic 60: Some people think that killing animals for food is cruel, but others claim that animals are a necessary part of diet. What’s your opinion?
(high in protein ) (essential nutrients), (alternative)
(make moral choices), (cannot respect the rights of other species),(possessors of moral rights) ;
(food chain) (hunters), (prey),
(high in saturated fat and cholesterol), (overconsumption) (health problems);
(entitled to possess their own lives), ( violate animals’ rights) ;
(Factory farming causes environmental damage.), (responsible for the food borne disease),(pose health risks)
It is a widespread practice that livestock is raised and butchered for human consumption. Although it has been condemned as cruelty to animals, a counter-argument is that meat is the necessity for people’s health and well-being. To the best of my knowledge, meat is a regular part of the diet and there is no alternative to animal food sources.
The first justification is that animal source foods provide a wide range of nutrients that are difficult to obtain in adequate quantities from plant source foods. Insufficient intake of those nutrients will produce negative health outcomes, such as poor growth. A diet with a good combination of m at and vegetable is thought to have considerable value. Some might argue that consumption of meat can pose health risks and increase the risk of food borne illness. This statement is fallacious, considering the fact that people can kill bacteria and remove risk factors by cooking properly and using scientific methods in manufacture.
Another point to note is that most of the meat available in supermarkets for people’s consumption is produced by industrial agriculture. In view of the intense use of modem technology and mass production techniques, the produced livestock, poultry or fish cannot be taken as ordinary animals but only as manufactured goods. By making use of economies of scale to produce enough food at an affordable cost, industrial farming is essential to addressing food supply problems.
The significance of capitalizing on animals as a food source is therefore undeniable, but it is important to realize that people cannot exploit animals and become addicted to meat consumption. Animal fats, for example, increase the risk of heart disease and meat is frequently associated with outbreaks of food poisoning. Meanwhile, people’s insatiable desire for meat might lead to intensive livestock farming and animal slaughter, which has a direct impact on the well-being of animals worldwide.
From the preceding discussion, one can see no reason why livestock or some other animals cannot be used as food. Switching to an animal free diet is a personal option, but the question remains whether one can ensure sufficient intake of nutrition necessary for one’s health. When there is little room for argument concerning the use of animals for meat, it is necessary to impose standards and prevent animal exploitation.
1. Butcher-kill for meat=cut for meat
2. Nutrient=life-enhancing substance=nutrition
5. Economies of scale=cost-effective advantages=advantages obtained from mass production
Topic 61: Discuss the arguments for and against raising pets.
(remove stress), (relieve boredom (well protected ) (Live in cleaner and more comfortable conditions);
(maltreated) (; (overfed), (in small cages or flats), (chained up for long periods),
(overpopulation), (fecal contamination),
In these years, animal welfare has become a subject of controversy and it has been argued that animals should not be regarded as property by human beings or used against their own best interests. When pet rising has become a way of life in many societies around the world, it has, on the other hand, raised the question of whether it is a breach of animal rights. Below are some arguments concerning pet ownership?
Pet animals are known for their loyalty and playful characteristics and believed to have a positive effect on the health of their owners. The pressures of modern lifestyles are tremendous. Compared to previous generations, people are more likely to live independently and away from their families at the present time. Adopting a pet animal as a companion can give quality to the owner’s life, and help reduce stress and blood pressure; it is also regarded as a solution to the feeling of isolation and loneliness. These two facts are combined to justify why there are an increasing number of people now depending on pet animals as companions or even a therapy.
Raising pets benefits pets as well. Providing companionship and giving pleasure to their owners, pets receive loving care and attention in return. Some might argue that holding a pet is unnatural, because pet animals would lose their original way of life. However, people should meanwhile recognize that some animals are unfitted to the wild environment. It is morally wrong that people force animals to struggle with food, clean water and other necessities in the wild environment.
Keeping an animal is therefore beneficial, but, notably, there is no guarantee that every pet lives a happy life. Ignorance of an animal’s needs for space, exercise or contact with members of the same species, for instance, has been found as a common problem with raising pets. It should also be noted that many people adopt pets for wrong reasons, such as a statement of affluence or a status symbol. They are very likely to abandon or even kill pets when their initial interest subsides. When holding pet animals has become popular, other problems will result, e. g., pollution caused by excess manure.
Based on the facts outlined above, people can conclude that pet-keeping is a tradition that can be either good or bad, from an ethical point of view. On the one hand, it gives people companionship and great pleasure and animals obtain a loving home and a happy life. On the other, inappropriate treatment can rob animals of the basic right to well-being.
3. Companionship= company
5. Unfitted=unsuitable=incompatible with=incongruous with
7. Rob sb. of=deprive of=take from
Topic 62: Good facilities can be found in cities but not in the countryside. Therefore, new doctors and teachers should be sent to the countryside. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
( raise standards through practice) (discover rare, profound and difficult diseases), (rely on clinical skills, rather than advanced technology), (modernizations of the medical education system)
(narrow access to medical treatment),
(hospitals and clinics are under-resourced and the work so difficult and un stimulating),
( teaching aid), (computer-based teaching),
(poorly paid), (make commitment to work), ( waste of human resource) ;
(stop the desire of individuals to seek a more satisfying quality of life for themselves and their families) (breach of human rights)
Poor facilities have been found as a common sight of rural areas. To improve this situation, some suggest that new doctors and teachers should be assigned with tasks in the countryside, but not in urban areas. There are some strong arguments for this suggested solution.
The first is that hospitals, clinics and schools are severely understaffed in rural areas, compared with their overstaffed counterparts in the city. The imbalance of resource and staff has chronic effects on the well-being of rural people. Lack of education or medication has made them among the most disadvantaged in a country. Allocating new doctors and teachers to those areas can at least provide a temporary solution. Besides, it helps address the issue of distributing the graduates from medical school and normal college, with filling those vacancies for physicians and teachers in rural communities.
To the doctors or teachers that graduate freshly with a degree only, working in rural areas enables them to enrich work experience within the shortest possible period of time. Opportunities are scarce in the city, where numerous candidates are in the race for a single position. The chance of raising standards through practice is so meager that it will over time hamper rural practitioners’ career development and make them uncompetitive in a skill-based society. Facility shortage to many doctors in the country is an opportunity, instead of a challenge. They are in a position to rely more on clinical skills than on sophisticated equipment. For teachers, they teach with few teaching aids. All contribute to the increment of their skills.
Despite those benefits, the place of work should be chosen by doctors or teachers themselves and compulsory assortment is not justifiable. It is not ethical to stop the desire of individuals for a more satisfying quality of life. Needless to say working in rural areas has many issues to address, working conditions, transport and housing. For this reason, those graduates who volunteer to take rural employment deserve a better pay as a recognition of their contribution and also as an incentive.
From what has been discussed, working for a period of time in the country can benefit new teachers and doctors alike with increasing their work experience and meanwhile, address the service shortage facing those areas. However, the voluntary sign-up should be guaranteed, instead of compulsory assignment.
2. Vacancy=position=post=job opportunity
3. Physician=doctor=general practitioner=surgeon
Topic 63: Some findings have revealed that cities around the world are growing large. Could you outline the possible causes and predict consequences?
(an unprecedented population growth and migration ) (devoid of basic amenities), ( urban decay), (strong economy and increasing household incomes), (strong preference for lower-density housing},(able to afford the automobile),
(bad city planning)(construction of roads and the provision of infrastructure) (unplanned development),
(environmental impact) (monotonous suburban landscapes); (ill-health due to air pollution generated by traffic);
(social impact) (high mobility ) (a surge in the crime rate), (sense of community), (abbreviated), (loss of community spirit and values);
(economic impact) (adverse fiscal impacts), (unmet demand on infrastructure) ( traffic congestion) (delay the delivery of goods and services)
Of those issues that have concerned the government, academics and the public throughout the world, urban sprawl is one of the most prominent. There are conflicting views toward this growing trend. While it has been taken as a positive development in many newly emerging cities, it is increasingly perceived as a threat to rural environment and considered as a trigger for numerous urban problems. The objective of this essay is to evaluate the forces behind this trend and its consequences.
Population growth is widely recognized as the primary reason. The room in the city centre is so limited that it fails to provide enough housing to accommodate an ever-growing population. Another problem that has intensified in the inner city is infrastructure shortage and poor conditions of buildings. Lack of amenities, such as water and electricity supply, waste disposal, sewage treatment, to name but a few, has left no choice to urban dwellers but to resettle in the suburbs, where they have easier access to new facilities.
City dwellers are not always moving outward unwillingly. The continued increase in household incomes gives renewed impetus to urban development. People nowadays have higher expectations or quality of life and a growing appetite for lower-density housing with a larger open space. It is possibly the main reason why the real estate market has its focus now on the outskirts of the city, but not on the centre. In the meantime, the affordability and ubiquity of car ownership has made transport a less serious concern for those living in suburbs. They can commute daily between the place of work and the place of residence with ease.
The sustained expansion of cities will make a marked impact on the society in several dimensions.
The high traffic volume between suburbs and urban areas would cause severe air pollution and reduce the lands suitable for farming. Urban sprawl requires large developments, causing areas to lose some of their unique qualities and characteristics. From the economic perspective, the relocation of a high population in suburbs will pose adverse fiscal impacts on the local government in infrastructure construction. To those who used to live in suburbs, the inflow of new inhabitants would damage the community spirit and make relations between neighbors fragile.
Urban sprawl is, therefore, a trend which has a strong effect on the environment, communities and government budgeting. When urban decay and citizens’ desire for higher standard of living make this trend irreversible, the emphasis should be placed on planned and sustainable development.
4. To name but a few=to mention but a few=and so on=and so forth
7. Quality of life=living standard=the level of comfort and wealth
8. Real estate=property=housing
9. Outskirt=suburb=the periphery of a city
10. In the meantime=meanwhile
12. Commute=go back and forth
13. With ease=easily=effortlessly=without much effort=without difficulty
Topic 64: Police in Britain do not carry guns. Some people believe that unarmed police are unable to protect citizens, but some suggest that arming the police will lead to a surge in violence in society. Discuss those two views.
( street patrols being routinely armed )
(protect a public who are becoming innocent targets) ;
(Bearing guns is a means of defense.).
(faced with deadly violence);
(police weapons add fuel to the gun culture);
(panic), (blend with the community) ;
(increase the potential for miscarriages of justice, unofficial death penalty)
Whether to arm the police is a contentious subject. While some people maintain that unarmed police are unable to protect law-abiding citizens, others reject this notion, believing that it leads to a drop in violence in society. There are several factors that account for the stark contrast between the two thoughts.
The primary concern on armed police is that it would increase the potential for miscarriages of justice and mistaken shootings of innocent civilians. The legislation in many countries is supportive of this concern. Laws protect citizens from torture or cruel treatment and also their rights on arrest or detainment. If armed, the police will be less likely to think twice before pulling the trigger; they can easily get away with private execution by inventing a legitimate excuse, such as self-defense. The chance of a shoot-out would naturally rise, causing many preventable injuries or losses of life.
Arming the police might also add fuel to the gun culture. Nowadays, perhaps nothing is worse than the continued raise in the gun ownership rate. Arming the police can never redress the imbalance but worse, give criminals a motivator to carry guns even for minor crimes. On the other hand, in those communities that are otherwise peaceful, armed police are intimidating and the fear of crime will spread wildly. It would lead to further demand on private gun ownership, and expose members of the public to higher risk.
Arming police is therefore not advisable in most cases but only allowed in exceptional circumstances. For example, in those areas where armed crimes are rampant, armed police protect not only the public but also themselves from the potential attack. It gives the police the leverage in their combat against criminals, especially those hardened criminals. Firearms also serve as a deterrent to would-be offenders. If street patrols in some neighborhoods are routinely armed, it helps out the rates of crime.
The access to weapons should therefore be limited, for the simple reason that carrying guns leads to higher likelihood of mistaken shootings and to higher levels of violence. Carrying guns is only accepted when the police are in conflict situations and confrontations with criminals.
2. Execution=the death sentence=killing=capital punishment
4. Add fuel to=fuel=invigorate=encourage
Topic 65: Do you think it is better to send criminals to jail or let them receive education or job training?
(skills in coping with everyday problems), (interpersonal conflict), (loneliness ) (depression); (attitudes or ways of thinking ), (continue their education) (enhance practical life skills), (assist them in finding jobs) ,
(deterrent effect), (a sign of the triumph of good over evil);
(being closely monitored)
In the public mind, a prison is a place to keep those who have done wicked things in captivity, in order that they will not contaminate law-abiding citizens. However, there is a growing concern in these years that imprisonment is a less effective form of punishment, and some alternatives seem to promise more satisfying outcomes. I agree on this proposed change, with evidence that imprisonment can be merely taken as the last resort.
Education is of critical importance to rehabilitating an offender. It first changes delinquents’ attitudes toward society and family, a prerequisite to their reintegration into the community. It meanwhile allows them to keep in contact with the community, an opportunity that prisoners are normally deprived of. With the passing of time, they lose confidence and the ability to function prosaically. The risk of re-offending is thus higher. The third benefit is preventing offenders’ peer group effect, because by receiving education in a proper learning environment, offenders have lower chance of reinforcing each other’s antisocial and criminal behaviors in group situations.
Similar to education, work is one of the most important interventions in corrections, whether it takes the form of work release or vocational training. Money is the main inducement of marry crimes, such as shoplifting, robbery, burglary, and so forth. Job training enables offenders to acquire earning capacity and improve job skills. By this they can become productive members of society and have the opportunity to behave normally towards family or occupation or society. Greater post-release employment success will, in general, lead to a lower rate of recidivism.
However, to those habitual criminals, who have committed crimes repeatedly and show little respect for the legal system, education and job training might not make any significant difference. This category of offenders gives little thought to their past or future. Their behaviors and thoughts are deeply ingrained and unbending, in which circumstance imprisonment is the best way of keeping them from being perpetrators. Meanwhile, imprisonment bas deterrent effects and can deter potential offenders from becoming actual offenders.
To sum up, it is clear that the results of imprisonment can be mixed and it is only effective in restricting those who are very likely to commit repeated acts of violence. By contrast, education and vocational training suit those who committed less serious crimes, preventing them from becoming re-offenders after release and assisting them to re-organize their lives.
Topic 66: Many people are afraid of leaving their houses because of the spread of crimes. Some think that more actions can be taken to prevent crime from occurring, but others think little can be done. What is your opinion?
(fear of reprisal) ;
(improve the physical security of vulnerable targets) ;
(directed patrol, surveillance);
(job, housing, education, healthcare );
The rise in the crime rate in the past decades has fuelled public worries about the rapidly declining safety of their communities. Some people take the position that little can be done to prevent themselves from victimization. As opposed to this general pessimism, many people, however, maintain that in combating crime, people should adopt a proactive approach. I side with both of them.
The first point to support this is that the government can increase intervention, including launching anti-crime public campaigns, enforcing new laws, and providing education. A civilized society is characterized by a high literacy rate and a low crime rate. The negative relationship between these two parameters implies that one will be away from a life of crime if given the access to education. Another method relies on the combination of imposing tougher laws and training a more effective police force. Not only does it penalize those offenders but it also deters prospective criminals. Moreover, the government can capitalize on the mass media throughout the country to alert the public to the threat of crime and teach citizens self-defense techniques.
For individual citizens, many crimes can be nipped in the bud, if they keep vigilant at crimes and are brave enough to fight back. It is particularly true in cases where burglars break into houses without an alarm system, and shoplifters target those shops that are not under the surveillance of security camera. In simple terms, it is people’s negligence that causes them to fall prey to the criminals. On other occasions, criminals are pampered by people’s cowardice. If they possessed courage to chase criminals or at least report to the police on a crime, there would be fewer victims.
To tackle crime, as indicated above, requires the commitment of nearly all members of society, from the government to ordinary citizens. Although there might not be a great deal one can do to prevent crimes from occurring, it is not entirely helpless. Solutions exist somewhere always, but wait to be found and practiced.
4. Combat=fight=struggle with
5. Side with=agree with=support=be in sb’s camp
10. Nip crimes in the bud
11. Vigilant=watchful=wary=alert= cautious=attentive
Topic 67: There are more and more effective security measures in large cities to reduce the crime. Does this endeavor bring more benefits than problems?
(counterproductive), (achieve unexpected outcomes) ;
(fail to reduce crime, but displace it to other areas) ;
(restrict freedom), ( invade privacy);
(raise the fear of crime)
(alert people to the risk of being victimized by crime);
(accomplish the purpose of deterrence) ;
In these years, the society has seen rapid proliferation of different measures aiming to prevent victimization. It is followed by a protracted debate over its positive and negative impacts. In my opinion, it is a reflection of the inflated fear of crime, but not of actual levels of crime.
To a larger or lesser extent, the increased presence of anti-crime devices fuels the fear of crime and has a devastating effect on people’s quality of life. Crimes are concentrated in particular areas, but the fear of crime spreads across the whole community and affects nearly every resident. The most annoying aspect of this trend is that people’s freedom is curtailed (for example, using the stairway of a building less frequently due to the alarm installed there) and sometimes, people’s privacy is invaded (due to the concealed surveillance cameras in offices). There is little, if any, evidence that the threat people perceive has a real life counterpart.
On the other hand, although some measures are said to deter or stop crime, they too often produce opposite outcomes. For example, lighting in a dark area may reduce fear but also enable criminals to see their targets more easily, leading to a high probability of attacks. The benefits of self-protective measures such as gun ownership and martial arts training are doubtful because nobody can say with certainty that the net effect is to decrease harm. Most personal defensive devices are either too difficult to use or less effective than expected.
Crime reduction and crime prevention also rely on other approaches rather than on security measures. Criminals choose their targets based on time and whereabouts. Citizens will be less vulnerable to victimization if they bypass those places where crimes frequently occur. There is no need for carrying chemical agents for self-defense. Many mansions are armed with expensive in-door surveillance systems, but issuing passes to occupants and tenants and preventing easy access to the building is more effective and economical. In the inner city, where crimes are epidemic, eliminating the dilapidated buildings used by criminals for hiding or selecting a target is more useful than requiring all shops and residents nearby to install expensive security system. The central part of crime prevention is altering the environment, by which the root causes or at least the facilitators of crime can be eliminated.
As suggested above, it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of anti-crime equipment and users should examine it regularly. The crime prevention framework should focus on making the environment safe from crime, reducing the potential for crime in high-risk situations and halting the possibility of future crime.
Topic 68: With the ageing of society, we are now beginning to see a growing interest in further abolishment of mandatory retirement. Do you think that mandatory retirement is obsolete or should be sustained?
(compulsory retirement/ fixed retirement age
(a waste of human resources) ;
(assist training young workers)
(insult); ( discriminate against people on the grounds of age) ;
(lead to the shortfall in capital )
(retirement will become a point of dispute, rather than something that can happen harmoniously and smoothly) ;
(accept innovative ideas),
(expect the final years of their life to be less pressured)
Mandatory retirement is a prominent issue raised by the continued expansion of the aged population. The notion that the older people should be forced out of employment because of age is set to become obsolete. However, the paradox is that a fixed retirement age is still being widely adopted by many employers as usual, either overtly or impliedly. My opinion is that the ways people look at older people as a section of the workforce should be subject to modification, in a world where the growth of the ageing population is a clear trend.
Due to improved diet, higher incomes and medical advances, people nowadays live longer. The ongoing increase in the life expectancy leads to the subsequent extension of working lives. It comes as no surprise that productivity and intellectual ability of workers would remain the same as they approach age 65 and in the years beyond. Meanwhile, older employees have a wealth of experience and specialized knowledge they have obtained throughout their decades-long working lives. All stand them in good stead, despite their slightly reduced physical abilities. The age prejudice is therefore unjustified, causing businesses to lose a major source of expert personnel.
Another disadvantage of mandatory retirement is the difficulty in finding qualified replacements for senior employees who have retired. Contrary to popular belief, senior employees are unlikely to impede promoting young employees. Instead, they ensure the consistency of staff training of an organization. Many senior employees are willing to stay on the junior jobs and earn less when they reach retirement age. Besides, their leadership is essential to the improvement of younger employees’ skills. With senior employees, a corporation guarantees the diversity of perspectives and minimizes the risk of relying on impetuous decisions made by young, inexperienced employees.
Despite those justifications for longer working lives, working in later life might not be aligned with the interest of all older people. For blue-collar workers, their choice is very limited. They are either forced out because of ill health or tired of working days and nights. In many instances, despite being able to work, the majority of senior people prefer retirement, or at least working shorter hours. Income has failed to be an effective incentive, compared to being part of society and contributing to the society in later life. For this reason, retirement should be made a voluntary option to the senior.
Based on the above-mentioned arguments, one can conclude that the changing demographics have lent support to rising the age of retirement or just abolishing mandatory retirement. It is in line with the extended life expectancy and in employers’ favour, although it is up to older peoples themselves in deciding whether to retire or not.
1. Paradox=contradictory aspect
3. Life expectancy=lifespan
4. Impede=obstruct=hinder=hamper=hold back
6. Aligned with=in line with
Topic 69: In many countries, the proportion of older people is increasing steadily. Do you think it is a positive or negative change to the society?
( ageing society, ageing population )
( result in escalating health care costs), (impose a burden) ;
(a shift in the age structure of the workforce), (the pace of work) ;
(low birth rate) (labour shortage)
(increased life expectancy),
(professional expertise and specialization), (do some volunteer work);
(swelling of ageing populations )
(create a fresh need for some professions), (insurance), (saving) (achieve greater economic gains)
In many countries, the trends toward fewer children and more senior citizens are proceeding at an accelerated pace. A long and healthy old age was previously a cause for celebration, but now viewed as a “burden on society”. As far as I see, fears that problems will arise from an ageing population are unfounded.
People tend to believe that the ageing of a society leads to slower growth of population size and to a shrinking workforce. The dominant way of looking at an older society has been to see this as a problem-an increasing burden on the working population. The fact is that as the number of young people falls, organizations will find it harder to recruit from their traditional pool of school-leavers and graduates. To tackle this problem, an increasing number of sectors and companies are now desperate to keep their highly experienced older workers. Therefore, an ageing population will by no means constitute a problem because older people should work at or beyond retirement age. Nor will it lead to a crisis of labour.
Another widespread worry is the sufficiency of wealth available in society to sustain the retired population. Paradoxically, when people are concerned about the public expenditure on the retired population, they have ignored private transfers of time and money from the old generation to the young one. It is important to note that parents’ earning capacity grows nowadays because of having fewer children. The total time they spend caring for dependents drops, and they are thus released for productive work. When they reach retirement age, they are in a stronger position with better financial security. In later years their children should receive all adequate inheritance, assisting them in turn to achieve a comfortable retirement.
In addition to establishing a solid financial base for families, older people also have time to offer for other benefits of family and those of the community. Healthy and energetic, they are the backbone of voluntary services. Voluntary services are not worthless just because they are unpaid. Senior workers can provide families or voluntary organizations with legal, accounting, computer or other skills for free.
As suggested above, the fear that people will suffer from the “burden” of too many elderly people is unreasonable. Any issue that arises from having a larger, older and healthier elderly population should not be viewed as a challenge for the century to come, because improving health and increased life expectancy mean that today’s older population is able to lead a fuller life than any generation before them.
3. Desperate to=anxious to=eager to=keen to
6. Backbone=main part
7. Worthless=of no value=valueless=useless
Topic 70: Currently more and more people respect elders and become convinced that older people should live with their families, which is in contrast to the view that older people should live at a nursing home. What is your opinion?
(value strong ties among family members), ( maintain their ties and sense of belonging) , (a lonesome feeling); (in good physical condition), (have a lively mind) (remain contributing members of the community), (isolated from mainstream society), (separated from the rest of the community) ;
( do not need to pay for the fee of the nursing homes)
( nursing home, retirement home, old people’s home, rest home )
( lose their ability to function independently),
(a good form of housing, a wider range of accommodation) (a genuine community feel), ( the chance to enjoy the company of their peers),
(more professional staff and better exercise facilities), (improve their quality of life), (keep their minds sharp and physical fitness );
(social and leisure activities) (exercise programs), (access to on-site care staff, close-by medical assistance)
The swelling of the aged population is an inescapable trend in many countries. There is no point in denying that managing this fundamental social change is an unprecedented challenge, such as presenting suitable housing and care options to the elderly people. As to whether a nursing home suits the elderly better than their own homes (where they can stay with their families), my view is that it is a decision that varies according to personal needs and characters.
It is true that nowadays, many older persons are able to stay active in their old age because of medical advances, healthier lifestyles and anti-ageing technologies. It is time that people rethought the perceptions of what it means to be old. Many retired people feel the need to contribute to the community after a lifetime of service to businesses and their families. They love to be involved in all sorts of activities and enjoy being included in groups. Considering their desire to maintain their independence and be part of society, if they do not have a decent quality of Life, they will feel excluded. For this reason, the retirement home is not a preferred option.
Families and friends are the key to a happy old age. Elders can enjoy the company of the peers of the same age in a nursing home but meanwhile, suffer a loss of family life. Living away from their families, older people are more prone to the feeling of loneliness. The lingering stereotype of the average senior citizen as a frail and passive family member should be scraped now. Older members are capable of shouldering more family responsibilities following their retirement. Their sense of wellbeing is linked to the extent to which they are involved in family duties.
Despite the strong preference among the elderly for staying with their families, a nursing home functions well to help those who do not have the company of their families. In addition to offering the access to social activity and engagement, a nursing home provides professional care service to old people, most of whom are not capable of caring and cooking for themselves. For those who are taken to hospital frequently for treatment, the rest home is particularly a good choice, as there are many health and medical specialists.
As suggested above, considering the fact that nowadays, many elderly people are able to remain healthy and active, they should be given the chances to participate in social and family activities as well as pursuing hobbies and other interests. Only when their ill health or emotional well-being becomes a serious problem, should a nursing home be taken into consideration.
Topic 71: In many countries, women join the army as men do. However, some people argue that the army solely needs males. What is your opinion?
(cope with the heavy workload at home), (undertake childcare responsibilities) ;
(gain acceptance from their male counterparts), (receive equal credit for their performance ), ( face sex discrimination), ( sexual harassment) ;
(vulnerable), (intensely physical), (carry heavy loads); (do not function well in appalling conditions), ( do not have a strong will)
(caring professions) (perform clerical jobs ) ;
(overcome physical limitation/muscle disadvantage) , (remote-controlled),
Stepping into the 21st century, women have set foot in nearly every walk of life. However, the army is still a male-dominated area in much of the world. A great many people hold bios against women’s enrolment in the army. In my view, females can contribute to the army just as males do, despite some of their shortcomings.
The first standpoint to conscribe females is that they now have more chances to receive education. In comparison with the past, where the army recruitment policies focused on strength and fitness, the current focus is on academic ability. Physical fighting either armed or unarmed, no longer features in modern warfare. It has been replaced by battles between tanks, amours, missiles or warplanes, most of which are computerized. In other words, females can perform military tasks as their male counterparts do, provided that they are well-educated and well-trained.
Secondly, women have inborn merits that stand them in good stead. Females are less likely to commit faults, for they are accustomed to dealing with matters with accuracy and caution. Patience and consideration of others account for the high presence of females in army hospitals or logistics departments. Other impressive personality traits include their endurance of hardships, especially in grueling conditions, and their tenderness, a character required in the caring profession in the army.
Notwithstanding their strengths, females have some limitations they may need to overcome. The first obstacle is the social attitudes. Females have to cope with the pressure exerted by their families, acquaintances, or friends, as serving the army is widely seen as a deadly job, which is exclusively for males. The second obstacle is sexual discrimination and harassment, which seems common in most armies and can discourage females from serving their countries.
In conclusion, females’ presence in the army should be approved and encouraged. Their performance can be guaranteed by their innate strengths, despite the fact that they might have to cope with prejudices and other external disturbances.
1. Bias=prejudice=preconceived notion
3. Stand sb. in good stead=advantage
Topic 72: Gender imbalance has long been a general phenomenon not only in the labour market but also in formal education. Some analysts argue that it is impossible to eliminate the under presentation of women in some subjects in the university. Do you agree or disagree?
(require extraordinary commitments of time and energy),
(male-oriented profession), (underrepresentation ) (marriage and motherhood), (interruptions of daily domestic life),
(favour male over female applicants or otherwise) (constitute a form of discrimination), (inconsistent with academic freedom) ;
(create a positive study or working environment);
(nontraditional careers, such as auto mechanics construction trades), (demand more male teachers);
Although gender equality is widely promoted at modem colleges, females are still underrepresented in some subjects. Some people tend to treat it as a persistent problem, believing that the root of this problem is not in the university, but should be seen in a wider context. This conclusion is cursory and should be reviewed in today’s society.
The first point to note is that females have made a lot of inroads into fields that have been traditionally dominated by men. To serve in the army was, for instance, the exclusive right of males, but today, more women have been enlisted. Many would consider the army as the most ideally “men only” profession. If females can make a success of it, they can succeed in every other field. The ascendancy of woman has been seen in the surge in their prominent positions in society and in the traditional blue collar business world. Women should not be considered unqualified or incapable of any university subject.
Universities that provide a gender-fair environment see benefits for both students and faculty.
Historically, the gender imbalance at colleges has isolated students from the real world, where there is a high chance of dealing with females rather than just males. The tension or conflict between the sexes in the university environment only allows students to exercise their ability to work with peers of the opposite sex. Faculty gets the chance to address the problem of gender inequality and discrimination, which has characterized campuses for decades. This results in a better learning environment, and thus a better thought of university.
Despite what has been discussed, it should be admitted that to put gender equality into practice is a complex task. There are a number of hurdles a female applicant has to overcome in the pursuit of academic objectives, and the first is from family. Traditional families often feel reluctant to support their daughters’ quest for higher education. The idea that university is mainly for men to learn a trade to support their wives and family remains prevalent. The women’s role is being defined as supporting their husband through performing menial tasks of life.
In conclusion, achieving a gender balance in the university is no longer an unachievable aim at the present time. While the competence of women has widely been recognized by their male colleagues in a wide range of occupations, the balance between men and women in an academic environment is deemed as a necessity. Although problems such as gender prejudice and favoritism continue to prevent women’s full participation in some subjects, these problems are losing their leverage.
3. Make some inroads into
8. Historically=in the past=in history=traditionally=in times gone by
11. Quest for=pursuit of
Topic 73: Throughout the history, male leaders often made the society more violent and conflicting. If women governed the world, the world would be more peaceful. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(sovereignty), (safeguard the interests of a country),
(disposition to compromise, obedience), (bring peace), (have a combative personality), (an aggressive/tough stance), (make no attempt to conciliate or negotiate) ;
(consult others), (value the input of others in a decision-making process), (level-beaded) (make sensible decisions); (reckless), (radical) (arbitrary) (fit sexual stereotypes); ( fragility ) (sentimental)
It is always interesting to notice that most of government leaders around the world are male. This situation is becoming more acute as gender roles have changed dramatically over the last century with women taking more high-ranking positions in the corporate world. An issue people are openly debating is whether women, if taking office as world leaders, can bring a more peaceful world. In my opinion, any judgment about the direct link between government policies and the gender of the government leader is premature.
It is first important to correct a common misconception that a leader’s decision is determined very often by his or her natural dispositions. The truth is that a leader formulates a policy mostly according to public opinions and makes a decision as the representative of a country. Admittedly, manly autocrats in history were meanwhile temperamental males, who were notorious for their volatile characters, unpredictable decrees and aggressive stance. Some historians have offered another explanation for this general sign. A leader with such personalities was favored and supported by a country during a specific period of time and chosen by a majority of the electorate to pursue the interest of a country. The rise of Hitler Adolf before World War II is a telling example. His attempt to establish a pure race of German people and colonies Europe reflected more a common desire shared by the whole German society than his own will.
Another general notion that females are intrinsically sympathetic and nonviolent is also ungrounded. Although it seems that females are generally less combative, quarrelsome and ambitious than males, there are always exceptions. The path to the top of the chain of command of a country is routinely filled with obstacles. Only those with strong leadership qualities can survive power struggles and reach the top position. It meanwhile requires contestants to show their abilities to make tough decisions in situations, for instance, when the sovereignty of a country is under threat. A good example to support this is the decision made by Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to send a naval task force to recapture the Falkland Islands and settle a military conflict with Argentina. It shows that a female leader should show the same decisiveness as a male leader does.
There are many other examples of this kind to support the argument that a decision to start a war and choose a violent solution to problems is not on personal grounds. A more satisfactory explanation is that a leader makes a decision he or she considers in general interest. The relationship between gender and peace-making is therefore remote.
4. Autocrat=tyrant=dictator=absolute ruler
5. Temperamental =volatile=moody=unpredictable
9. Electorate=voter=voting public
14. Recapture=resize=re gain
Topic 74: Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of playing sports and participating in physical exercises.
(increase physical strength),
(accelerate fat burning), (lose weight);
(stay in shape), (improve self image) ;
(relieve stress), (improve mood), (reduce the chance of depression) ;
(keep energetic) ( increase productivity)
( time-consuming) ;
(cause physical injury or emotional distress)
Sport and recreational physical activity is an integral part of the society. Especially in today’s society, where people have a growing concern about health, participation in recreational physical activity has been strongly promoted as part of a healthy lifestyle. What will be discussed below are the benefits of physical exercise, and some issues participants should pay attention to when increasing the level of physical activity.
One of the main benefits associated with regular exercise is the development of a healthy lifestyle. There is evidence that people can enjoy a longer life expectancy by adapting their daily lives to incorporate physical activity. There are many reasons for this. For example, sports perform a wide range of life-enhancing functions, such as boosting the immune system, burning fat, reducing the risk of experiencing major illnesses (e. g. , heart disease, diabetes). In a society where physical inactivity, unbalanced diet, stress and other problems are becoming increasingly serious, playing sports has significant implications to the well-being of the general population.
Another major benefit achieved from regular activity is the enhancement of social life. Combined with a balanced diet, sports, such as jogging, cycling or swimming, enable people to maintain a healthy weight, keep in shape, thereby boosting confidence on social occasions. In addition, sports and regular physical activities provide opportunities for social interactions. For example, team sports, such as soccer, rugby and basketball, allow participants to meet new teammates regularly and improve social life.
When physical exercise is highly recommended, it should be planned and managed well.
Excessive physical exercise, for example, puts participants at the risk of injury. It is commonplace and hazardous that some people take up long duration and high intensity exercise despite lack of stamina. Although these potential risks are not to negate the benefits of physical activity, participants should take precautions and follow the instructions of sports professionals, trainers and coaches. In general, participants are advised to start gently and then increase the frequency of the activity until they can stick to it as an everyday routine.
As shown above, there are a large number of benefits obtainable in regular exercise, such as promoting health, preventing illness and boosting self-esteem. Sports and recreational injuries are nevertheless a common problem, which deserves people’s attention. It can be avoided by increasing activity gradually to a desired level, instead of starting from intense training.
2. Stamina=strength=I physical or mental) energy=vigor
3. Negate=cancel out=counteract=reverse
4. Stick to=follow=abide by
Topic 75: Some people believe that national sports teams and individual athletes who represent their country should be financially supported by the government. Some people think that they should be funded by non-government groups (e. g. business, sponsorship). What is your opinion?
(based on the performance and profit-earning capacity in terms of returns on investment), unbalanced development of sports);
(organize competitions to entertain the public)
(attract fee-paying spectators), (spectator sport) ( commercialize sports) ;
(run for profit), ( disregard the safety of athletes), ( over-training)
(boost or chive their images), (create brand name awareness), (reinforce or modify its image in the public eye),
(Some sports organizations may misuse the money allotted for their own benefit);
(international exposure) ;
(susceptible to injuries), (gain more profit),(guarantee a comfortable retirement)
In recent years, one of the clearest trends in sports is that more and more corporations have come into play. It is a subject of discussion whether private financing should be accepted by the government to a larger extent and even the state can concede its control over national sports teams to private ownership. In my opinion, the involvement of entrepreneurs is essential and can be deemed as a complement to government administration.
‘There are many reasons why the private sector should play a more active role in sports. First, the government alone cannot afford the expenditure involved in the sports industry, such as salaries of athletes, administrative costs, and so forth, By organizing competitions efficiently and economically, enhancing athletes’ market values, seeking out sponsors or patrons, the private sector not only raises necessary financing but also maximizes the return of the sports industry, A business’s willingness to take part in this industry is attributable to many incentives. For example, it would help create an image which is associated with enthusiasm, energy and passion and can be turned into enormous income. Meanwhile it contributes a lot to its solid position in society, as well as good reputation.
Meanwhile, as sports have grown more competitive, the need for better equipment, facilities, and nutrition and training methods has become urgent. Athletes should have well-developed physiques, which can be obtained only through extensive physical training and strict exercise. Private sponsors ha e expertise in different areas of technology, ranging from nutrition to the treatment of injuries, they are able to train athletes scientifically and effectively, reduce the risk of injuries and extend their career lives. Besides, as private sponsors are more financially capable of providing awards, bonus and other financial incentives to motivate athletes, their involvement is crucial to athletes’ performance on the playing field.
The role of the private sector is therefore indispensable, but it is not to say that the government should divest itself of intervening in the sports industry. Although the private sector is surely committed to seeking sponsorship and performing many fund-raising jobs, it is profit-oriented and therefore, very likely to make a decision ignorant of the interests of athletes. National teams are branded, marketed and sold as entertainment products, while the value of national pride and ethnical dignity is overlooked. It is also very likely that private investors are only interested in those sports with high media exposure, resulting in the unbalanced development of sports. For this reason, the government should retain the major ownership of the sports.
In conclusion, the sports world is in need of financial support and the assistance of the private sector. While providing financial resources, goods and services, business investors can obtain communicative and commercial benefits. By giving the green light to private financing, the government is more likely to advance the overall development of sports.
1. Concede=give in=give up=grant=forfeit
2. Entrepreneur =businessman=merchant
4. Patron =sponsor
5. Return=earning =profit=revenue=gain
6. Physique=figure=body=form=shape=body type
7. Playing field=sports ground=arena
10. Give the green light=permit
Topic 76: Do you think that international sports events like the Olympic Games would continue or gradually lose their momentum?
(quicker, higher and stronger) (the Olympics spirit), (encourage any behaviour that is fair, honest and polite in a game or sports competition), (sportsmanship). (basis of self-development and socialization)
(to take part but not to win, to have fought well, but not to conquer); (achieve potential and uphold virtues) ;
(economic, cultural and political communication) ;
(economic benefit and social influence},
(displays of nationalism, commerce and politics). (corruption and bribery are well-documented); (interfere with the Olympics on several occasions) ;
(take an oath promising to abide by rules), (promise not to cheat), (true spirit of sportsmanship), (substance use ) (tose interest);
(run a budget deficit)
(require a high degree of security) , (a high expenditure of labour and resources)
The Olympics, known as the world’s largest event, appeal to global audiences with displaying athletic skills and competitive spirit. Pageantry, keen rivalry, and high level of competition are the striking attractions of the Olympic Games. W11en many people are concerned about the forces that drive this event forward, there are fears about their sustainability. In my opinion, the Olympic torch will be carried by relay runners on and on and would never be extinguished.
Reasons why the Olympics would continue are many. First, people, especially young males, are in need of some form of outlet for their energy and emotion related with sports. The Olympics, as well as other international sports events, are ideal for them. Meanwhile, leisure activities are valued today, as economic conditions continue to improve. As part of the growing leisure industries, sport and sporting contests will become increasingly important. Moreover, the Olympics are of commercial values and of broad interest to mass media organizations, advertisers, sponsors and business managers. Because of those business opportunities, cities will not cease to compete to host sporting events. Needless to say, they can thus achieve or maintain world class status.
Apart from those tangible benefits, the Olympics possess other values. For example, the Olympics allow nearly all nations in the world to compete in the event rather than require any of them to meet the strict political requirements set by other worldwide organizations, such as the United Nations on sovereignty. The political, social and economic conflicts between countries and regions are disregarded in the face of Olympic spirit. Audiences are so engrossed by the grace, endurance and fortitude shown by athletes that they pay little attention to their nations of origin, cultural and language differences.
Despite those elements in favour of sustaining this international event, the Olympics are facing many challenges today. The expenditures are one of the biggest. So many services and facilities are required for serving athletes, media and spectators that up to present, only those cities from industrialized countries are capable of and interested in hosting such events. The Olympics are meanwhile the botbed of various scandals. Tempted by the prospect of large financial rewards, many athletes take proscribed performance-enhancing drugs, a stain on the sportsmanship pursued by the Olympics. Critics also view international sporting events as a substitute for war, ritualizing and formalizing the conflicts between countries. What’s more, the Games draw criticism for embracing commercialism. The Olympic torch, for example, an important symbol of the Olympics, has been used popularly in the commodity market.
As shown above, humankind’s passion for competing in and watching games, the special appeals of the Olympic Games, and economic and non-economic benefits brought to the host city all make the immediate demise of the games unlikely. However, in the pursuit of those high ideals, the Olympics are meanwhile at the risk of being the instruments of commercialism and nationalism.
1. Extinguish=put out=quench
2. Host=provide facilities for
4. Engrossed by=occupied by=absorbed in=immersed in
9. Ritualize =make sth a ritual
10. Formalize =make sth formal
Topic 77: Wearing uniforms is popular in schools, but some people argue that it might cause damage to children’s individuality. What is your opinion?
(constitute a distraction), (consider what to wear), (focus on study);
(prevent brand name competition) ;
(ethos of a school), ( maintain school discipline), (improve behaviour), (self-image), (instill a feeling of belonging );
(a symbol of a restrictive culture), (deny students their right to personal identity and self-expression), (send a clear message to students that conformity is important and creativity is not),
Wearing school uniforms is a norm in elementary and secondary schools in many countries. Although students are advised to follow this convention, it is a subject of debate whether wearing uniforms should be made compulsory or not. In my opinion, designating and standardizing student wardrobe has numerous advantages.
One of the most significant benefits obtaining from a uniform is that it eliminates economic inequalities and reduces the competition among students for showing off stylish clothes. Parents need not shop for expensive and varied wardrobes for their children. There will be less distraction at school and children will not strive to keep up with the fashion. Students from low income families would not feel isolated or inferior to others, while those from high income families would not become the target of bullies. It is because all students look as plain as their peers. A child’s education should not be damaged by their inability to afford stylish clothes. Their performance at school should be recognized based on individual characters rather than all their economic status.
School uniforms are meanwhile believed to have positive effects on discipline. Students are discouraged from wearing make-up, jewellery or trendy clothing. When children are required to wear uniforms and conform to a dress code, they conjure up thoughts of order and safety. They will take their schooling more seriously. In addition, with obscene and gang-related clothing being forbidden, the school would find it much easier to combat the gang, decrease drug use, improve attendance and solve other discipline problems.
School uniforms are sometimes viewed as a symbol of restrictive culture and a significant determinant of children’s self-expression, potentially suppressing students’ individuality. However, this concern is groundless, because uniforms can vary according to the season, environment and occasion. It is not common that students wear different seasonal and activity uniforms within the same classroom during the day. After school, they can wear whatever street clothes they like. The impact of uniforms is therefore very limited on children’s individuality.
As suggested above, wearing school uniforms should be retained as a rule, not only because it unifies students and makes the rich and poor look alike, but also because it can instill a sense of discipline in children. The fear that school uniforms can suppress individuality is ungrounded.
1. Norm=normal ways of behaving
6. Conform to=abide by=comply with=follow
7. Dress code=rules about clothes
8. Conjure up=recall
10. Unify=bring together
11. Suppress=stifle=repress=hold back
Topic 78: Some people believe that educating children altogether will benefit them. Others think intelligent children should be taught separately and given special courses. Discuss those two views.
( ability grouping )
(adjust materials and methods of instruction) (adjust curriculum to a student’s aptitude),
(teach at a faster or slower pace);
( ability grouping )
(foster lower self-esteem), (lower aspirations), (develop negative attitudes toward school), (resistant to schooling);
( widen the gap between the low and high achievers);
(result in fierce rivalry among students),
Not surprisingly, students feel privileged when working with someone with exceptional abilities even from very early years. With the aim to produce elite students, schools now endeavor to gather children of special talents and offer them special courses. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this educational philosophy.
Treating gifted children the same as others might seriously hamper their personal development. Imagine that a math prodigy works out solutions to a thorny and tricky problem briskly; it makes no sense to force him or her to follow an ordinary curriculum. Some might argue that it will foster depression or frustration amongst low-achieving students if talented students are arranged with a special class and given specialized instruction. Many students think otherwise. Studying with high achievers cause slow students to feel frustrated and cast doubt on their effort. Feelings of worthlessness will drive them further toward low performance.
Another advantage of grouping students is enabling them to advance a strong friendship or partnership within different groups. Some opponents of this strategy argue that special students suffer socially, in a misguided belief that students would seldom talk to each other in an air of professional jealousy; this stereotype has blinded people to the fact that students with the same background knowledge are more likely to share a common topic of conversation. By exchanging experience and knowledge, they can make quicker progress toward their academic success.
Despite the significant position of special courses in education, it is not to say that ordinary students should be denied the same opportunity. Treating students differently can twist a child’s perception of his or her abilities and potential. A student experiencing great difficulty in studying should be provided with extra support rather than being treated as the loser. The sense of exclusion does not inspire their performance or commitment but merely triggers their further decline in school record.
In view of the arguments outlined above, ability grouping is of great value. It fosters a nutritious environment in which talented students can facilitate their learning process and easily find their pals of the same gift. However, special courses should be open to any willing learner; otherwise, students will feel discriminated.
3. Elite=best=most talented
Topic 79: Some people who have been successful in the society do not attribute their success to the theoretical knowledge they learned at university. What is your opinion on the factors contributing to one’s achievement?
(lay a solid foundation), (career development) ;
(Acquire new skills). (critical thinking skills), (analytical skills ) (problem-solving skills) (practical skills), ( on-the-job experience), (competence and personality ) (circumstances and opportunities)
People harbor different perceptions of tertiary education. Although higher education is recognized by many as the most important predictor of one’s success, its efficacy has been subject to long discussion. It is always interesting to note that some people do not owe their success to the knowledge they acquired at university, despite the great effort they ever made in obtaining a qualification. In my opinion, tertiary education itself cannot guarantee one’s success, and there are many other elements combined to mould a successful role model.
Knowledge, an essential element of one’s success, is normally acquired through formal education, but it is not the only approach. A university is home to those teaching professionals who have a firm grasp of a given knowledge area and can impart it to students by various techniques. However, not the knowledge, experience and skills can be passed on to students by teaching. Experiences and rules of thumb are non-transferable at a traditional classroom. The only way to gain a mastery of them is the full participation in a job.
In addition to hands-on skills and practical experience, characters can foretell one’s prospects. Society has been polarized as economic and social changes make it more competitive. Those with outstanding academic qualifications are not sought-after as much as before. Employers show interest in other qualities of an applicant, for example, resilience, Willpower and adaptability. It is increasingly believed that the most successful are normally those who are most likely to adapt to changes in their world. Some other qualities, such as the ability to work in a hard-working, stressful and ever-changing environment, are viewed as the shared traits of successful people. Running toward success is more of a marathon than of a sprint. Only those persistent, self-motivated and self-directed can eventually attain their objectives.
Simplicity’s sake, one does not need to cite all these factors to uphold the assertion that a college degree is not the precondition to personal success. Practical experience, a mastery of different skills and personality suffice to illustrate the complex nature of personal achievement.
3. Rule of thumb=a rule based on experience
10. for simplicity’s sake
Topic 80: It is generally believed that education is of vital importance to individual development and the well-being of societies. What should education consist of to fulfill both these functions?
(higher-level thinking skills), (analytical skills) (act independently)
( theoretical know ledge), (practical experience), ( improve career prospects) ;
(improve social skills), (hone communication skills ); (adapt to new environments);
(develop physical fitness), ( educate them to lead or maintain a healthy lifestyle);
(heighten one’s awareness of moral standards), (conform to rules accepted by the society), (assume responsibility)
(develop all appreciation of art, poetry and literature)
Education is one of the largest items of government spending. It is regarded as the pathway to economic prosperity, an instrument for combating unemployment and the driving force behind scientific and technological advance. Given the importance of education for individuals and society, its scope, constituents and configuration have long been the subject of research, studies and discussion.
Theoretically, a student is expected to acquire knowledge of a specific subject or profession at school, but throughout the learning process, education should focus on the development of their skills. A successful school leaver should show exceptional abilities to acquire, organize, interpret, evaluate and communicate information when graduate. Similarly, a proficient learner should meanwhile be a resource coordinator and user, proficient in identifying useful resources (such as information and capital) with speed and utilizing them to the full advantage. A qualified student should also possess some other skills, such as problem solving and critical thinking, which are essential not only for their further education but also for their careers later in life.
When students become knowledgeable and resourceful, they should be equipped with competence that would enhance the transition from school to work. An excellent learner is admittedly important to society, but more important is his or her productivity. Education should absorb new substances and embrace new concepts in order for students to keep in touch with community and have full knowledge of the needs of community. Besides, a school should facilitate the progress of students in every practical field and give them opportunities to try new tasks and take on new roles. By enhancing their hands-on skills and job-related skills, schools can foster students’ and society’s future development and prosperity.
When enhancing learners’ academic excellence and professionalism, education cannot overlook learners’ physical and psychological well-being. In this fast-changing and competitive society, many people are not in good form in coping with stress and health problems. Encouraging students to reduce stress and develop good health habits is therefore important. Sports, for example, function effectively as a health facilitator and as a good stress reducer. These extra curriculum activities can be combined with academic activities to boost students’ mental health and learning outcomes.
To conclude, today’s students are expected to be versatile, productive and healthy individuals when they finish schooling. With society becoming more specialized and economies demanding more skills, students should focus on both theoretical and practical aspects of education. They should lay a stress on physical activities as well.
2. Combat=address=tackle=prevent=fight against
7. In good form=performing well
Topic 81: Nowadays, some universities offer graduate students skills that assist them to find employment, but some people believe that the main function of university should be to access knowledge for its sake. What is your opinion?
There is an upsurge in practical knowledge in these years and people have seen many education courses being totally work-based. The idea that students should apply theory to practice or even focus on practice only has become widely accepted. In my opinion, schooling should be designed to prepare children for real life, rather than underlining the academic aspect only.
There can be little doubt that the main purpose of providing university education is to assist young contenders to begin and pursue their future careers. The hypothesis that theory and abstract conceptual knowledge are important lies in the fact that they are the fundamentals of tertiary education, but· without bridging theory and practice, education will possess little value and receive much less support from the public.
A university should place its emphasis on vocational training (or career education), which is directly related to a specific trade, occupation or vocation. It is particularly true when many well-paid jobs require intense use of technical skills.
Aside from theoretical knowledge, universities should assume the responsibility to enhance, diversify and consolidate the skills students can possibly use in many life situations. Life skills refer to a wide range of skills necessary for successful living, including recognizing other people’s feelings, setting realistic and attainable goals and employing problem-solving strategies. The university can devise its curriculum to achieve these outcomes. For example, by organizing sports and other physical activities, the university can help students enhance their team-building and leadership skills. Meanwhile, team assessments can be designed to facilitate students’ group discussion and improve information-sharing skills. These skills, when taken together, enable students to put their potential to the maximum and to apply the knowledge dexterously.
Meanwhile, as education is widely accepted as the foundation of society, emphasis should be placed on the relationship between education and economic success. Education is sometimes considered useless because it leads learners away from practicality and distances them from real life. To tackle this problem, educators are required to restructure the curriculum to suit the emerging trends in society. A good example is that if some industries, such as retail, tourism and information technology, are projected to have good prospects, educational institutes should generate skilled workforce for those industries, thereby giving a boost to the employability of young contenders.
As suggested in the above discussion, the role of education is to prepare young generations for paid work. Vocational education or training should be integrated in the curriculum, in an effort to make students productive members of society.
4. Trade =craft=line of work=occupation=profession
5. Assume responsibility=take responsibility
10. Workforce =worker=employee=personnel=labour force
Topic 82: Some people think that teachers should be responsible for teaching students to judge right and wrong and to behave well. Some say that teachers should fully teach students about academic subjects. Discuss both views and give your opinion.
( aware of social evils), (reduce hazards of school violence), (misuse of drugs) , (alcohol-related problems ) , (sabotage) (anti-social behaviour) ;
(spend most of the time at school), (monitor the behaviour of youths at school)
(increase their awareness of moral standards)
Traditionally, the task of teachers was to use a variety of methods and materials to impart the knowledge of a given field to students. However, this notion has been refuted by many people, who consider it important to integrate other elements in education, such as morality. In my opinion, moral education will become a central part of modern education and teachers should be responsible for correcting students’ behaviour and improving their moral values.
Ethics in plain words means studying and analyzing right from wrong, which is identical with the objective of education, telling the young generation what is the right thing to do. Without being aware of the distinction between acceptable and accusable behaviors, young people become delinquents and criminals, rather than qualified workers and successful individuals. It is particularly true as people are living in a society where violent juvenile crime, teen pregnancy and suicide are becoming worrying problems. There is thus a strong call for linking the modification of young people’s behaviour to the teaching of moral and social values in schools. Teachers are expected to take preventive measures to address misbehaviors, such as substance abuse, focus on the root causes of the problems, such as family violence, and help those who appear troubled. It stops a problem among young people from occurring or reoccurrence.
Ethical principles and moral values have relevance to the order of a society and individual citizens’ quality of life. The young people who are unaware of standards of morality will end up with breaching their duties as law-abiding citizens and ruining the moral values of the society. Nor can they become happy, successful and productive. A good example to support this is that many recent business-frauds, bribery, embezzlement and other illegitimate activities have been found related to some well-educated but unethical people. Despite their strong educational background and high intelligence, they cause damage to enterprises and communities.
Ethical education can also build shape the behaviour pattern of individual citizens. Morality is neither a vain promise nor a collection of ideals that appear in writing only. It is reflected in how people respond and act in different social situations, such as whether they habitually or instinctively reserve seats for the elderly and disabled at a bus. When children and young people construct most of their knowledge of the world through social interactions, teachers are in a very good position to impart such knowledge to them. Young people are hence well informed of moral principles, code of conduct and motivated to speak and act in a manner as intended.
As suggested above, teachers should play a more active role in the moral development of young people, instead of simply translating knowledge of a subject into course materials and imparting it to students. They should pass on good judgment, moral principles and wisdom to students, all contributing to students’ individual life fulfillment and well-being.
3. In plain words=in simple terms
6. Reoccurrence=occurring again
7. Unaware of=ignorant of=uninformed about
9. Ideal=principle=standard=belief=moral value
11. Pass on=impart=convey
Topic 83: Education used to be a short period of training, but today, people treat it like a lifelong practice. Do you agree or disagree?
(Media and information technologies make different learning opportunities available)
(survive fierce competition), (continue education), (improve qualification ) (specialized expertise) ;
(The education concept is in transition), (Students are not confined to a certain age group),
(value of life), (quest for knowledge), (spiritual needs) ( lifelong education).
The notion of learning throughout life is not new but only until recently has been discussed to a larger extent. More than learning for employment opportunities and competitive positions, learners pursues academic opportunities for many other purposes today. One has reasons to believe that education is more likely to be a lifelong pursuit, rather than an isolated practice in the century to come.
Because of technological advances, people are now given learning opportunities in different contexts at work, at home or through leisure activities. People in a modern society are not confined to formal channels (e. g. schools) but provided with more options, such as studying either via the Internet or television, known as distance learning or e-learning. Learning can occur at all ages. The working people, parents with childcare responsibilities, the disabled and the elderly are all able to learn now, with time and location constraints being transcended. The era when education was available only in a formal school and intended for young people is bygone.
Another force that drives lifelong education is the constantly changing nature of the society. It is certain that at the present time, no career fields can stay static. Because of the acceleration of scientific and technological progress, reeducation seems to be an urgent need throughout one’s working life, especially to those who work in hi-tech industries, such as IT. People feel compelled to keep themselves well-informed of all the latest changes in the industry they are working in, in case that they fall behind their peers. It is in sharp contrast to the past, where university education was sufficient for a professional career spanning three or more decades.
Pursuit of one’s own targets is another reason why education tends to last a lifetime nowadays. The interests of people in today’s society are not limited to material wealth and better standards of living, but involve other desires, ranging from self-expression, individuality to fulfillment of their own dreams. When formal education in the past was generally vocational and intended for sustaining life, many forms of education in today’s society are non-vocational. For example, many people study philosophy, psychology, painting, music, history and other arts subjects with the purpose to put meaning into the whole of life, rather than living simply as an income earner.
In summary, a combination of various factors, including the educational opportunities provided outside standard educational systems, individuals’ craving for achievement, and the soaring competitive pressure, accounts for why education has no endings in one’s lifetime.
Topic 84: Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad.
(immersion into an environment that can help language learning) ;
(broaden horizons), (match the need of this shrinking world);
(expand opportunities they cannot obtain in their home country), (improve academic backgrounds) ;
(promote academic communications},
(cause cultural shock), (assimilate a new culture);
( overcome difficulty in everyday life),
(high financial expense), ( cost of living )( tuition fees)
(take up a lot of time and energy)
In recent years, there has been a growing trend toward studying abroad among young people. When pursuing educational opportunities overseas is widely considered as a life-transforming opportunity, students should take on a number of challenges. Below are some specific advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad.
Studying abroad allows one to gain a real knowledge of a new culture and a new language. By interacting and communicating with native speakers daily, students can enhance their foreign language skills. They will simultaneously explore the values and ways of life of the host country. For example, Asian students might be surprised to find that communication in Western countries is starkly open and straightforward, in sharp contrast to the intense use of non-verbal messages in communication in their home countries. Not surprisingly, even simple everyday experiences, such as buying food and mailing letter, call help improve language proficiency and promote culture learning, It gives students new perspectives on how things are done.
During their overseas trips, many students will learn how to take care of themselves and live independently. They might have initial difficulties in fulfilling even the simplest tasks at the very beginning, such as grocery shopping, doing laundry, making living arrangements and setting accounts for electricity, but before long, they will adapt to the new environment and become self-sufficient. Moreover, by interacting with people from different backgrounds, overseas students can exercise and improve their social skills, an experience which is of great value to their careers later in life.
While studying abroad has its advantages, it might have its drawbacks. Most of the students are lack of life experience when they first travel overseas. Failure to cope with the problems that arise from their everyday lives might cause frustration. They feel helpless, suffer homesick and in worse cases, have a breakdown.
As suggested above, studying abroad poses both opportunities and challenges. While young people can become polyglots and independent individuals, gain opportunities for personal growth and develop an appreciation of cultural differences, they have to cope with the stress of living overseas.
1. life-transforming= life-changing
2. Take on=assume=undertake
6. Polyglot=multilingual individual
Topic 85: Some people argue that learning a second language involves learning the culture of the country where this language is spoken (including lifestyles). What is your opinion?
(apply language on various social occasions),
(develop cross-cultural communication skills and sensitivity); (deeper understanding of the target language and its speakers) ;
(Language is more than rules, syntax and lexis. ),
(a popular form of greeting), (filial piety) ( obedience ) (a bad omen); (impolite and over-straightforward), ( complimentary) ( minor differences),
To most people, second language acquisition is a lengthy and exhausting process. A general approach taken by most learners is to learn vocabulary and memorize grammar rules. They contend that language speaks for itself and the meaning of language lies in the language itself. In my opinion, a language goes beyond its literal meaning and delivers different messages as situations change. The cultural context and background of a language have a bearing on the forming of a language. There is no distinction between acquiring a language and acquiring a culture.
The first reason to support the above contention is that culture influences the evolution and formation of a language. Learning a culture can help learners understand many aspects of a language, wording, syntax, and so forth. For example, word order, the order in which words appear in sentences, differs from language to language. In some languages, the object normally comes ahead of the subject, as opposed to the word order in the English language. It mirrors the disparity in ways of seeing things and ways of thinking between people who speak different languages. Learning a culture can draw the attention of learners to these differences and therefore lead them to use a foreign language appropriately.
Familiarity with a culture is also known as the prerequisite of communication with native speakers. Effective communication relies not only on wording, pronunciation and sentence construction but also on physical gesture, body language and facial expressions. In fact, non-verbal messages sometimes tell people more than verbal messages do. For example, silence in the English-speaking country might indicate the agreement of the speaker on something, but in some Asian countries, silence might convey a message to the contrary, disagreement or even resentment. There is no denying that by learning the cultural dimensions of a language, a language learner can make him-or-herself acquainted with the skills and habits involved in cross-cultural communication.
Although the importance of studying the cultural aspect of language is indisputable, it should not be over-emphasized. For most learners, especially for those at an elementary level, the cultural elements of a language are remote and incomprehensible. Intrusion of these messages will create confusion. Learners will flounder when the progress toward success is little and the situation appears to be unmanageable. Language acquisition requires a high commitment of time and effort, so new learners are advised to concentrate on the language itself at the first stage.
From what has been discussed, one can make it clear that culture is an element that determines the difference between languages. Failing to recognize this would impede language learning. However, for new learners, acquiring a culture is less practical, for it requires great effort and produces little outcome.
4. Syntax= sentence structure=language rules
5. As opposed to=rather than
7. Disparity=difference =discrepancy
10. Convey =communicate=transmit=pass on
12. Incomprehensive=perplexing=beyond understanding
14. Flounder-have difficulty=struggle
16. Impede=obstruct=hinder=hamper-hold back
Topic 86: Some people argue that history is of little or no use to us. Others believe that studying history gives many benefits. Discuss those views and give your own opinion.
(a summary of antecedents) (draw on the empirical knowledge of the generations before us), (avoid taking a wrong path) (make a wiser decision at the present time);
(cultural identity), (preserve ethnic dignity), ( social solidarity);
(emphasis on historical trend and context). (observe how and why change occurs within societies and cultures), (the origins, evolution and decline of values and ideas) ;
(quality of surviving documents and artifacts)
( undergo dramatic changes),
(distort the truth),
History has long been recognized as a discipline, but it seems to be a fact that few students have a clear concept of why they should study it. Many people even argue that studying history is meaningless, considering the past differs in many important ways from the present. In my opinion, there are many facts to show the importance of history as a subject.
Despite the skeptism over the relevance of historical events to today’s society, understanding the past contributes to people’s decision making in today’s social context. By studying history, people can draw on the experience of the generations before them, taking a similar path to success and avoiding a dead-end. Besides, they understand how and why people (e. g., Hitler, Napoleon) behaved as they did. They are aware that people are neither good nor bad but motivated in complex ways. Instead of being misguided by stereotypes or historians, one learns to analyze issues or subjects based on historical context and perspective, take a dispassionate view toward today’s political and social problems and trace origins and causes objectively.
To students, studying history is not only to seek self-knowledge, but also to enhance their skills and make themselves all-round individuals. The study of history requires independent research as well as coherent explanations. Students are encouraged to do as much work independently as they can and to read widely and extensively. In addition to widening their experience, it helps students develop qualities of perception and judgments. Students are increasingly capable to analyze and compare conflicting views. All these improvements can foster a student’s intellectual independence, sharpness and maturity. These strengths are transferable across occupations and careers.
Although studying history is beneficial, its importance should not be overstated. The world is changing so rapidly that the lesson from the past might be applicable in particular circumstances only. For instance, imperialism is now occurring in business or culture, rather than in colonies. Taking the same approaches to combat imperialism might be counter effective. Studying history should not be taken as a demanding job but preferably as a pastime that satisfies people’s curiosity over the past. In addressing real-life issues, current events give people more hints and advice than historical events do.
From what has been discussed, studying history is very important, particularly in increasing one’s knowledge and enhancing one’s intellectual abilities. However, it should not be attached with unjustified importance because its applications in today’s society are not known with certainty.
1. Meaningless=insignificant=worth less=unimportant
12. With certainty=certainly
Topic 87: Do you think middle school students should study international news as a subject?
(broaden their horizons),
(the ability to analyze and compare information );
(add to the pressure a student experiences);
(have no relevance to the community in which students are living),
Today, watching news, a means of learning what is happening around the world, has become a way of life to many people. When the value of news is undisputed, an issue of debate is whether it is necessary to include international news as part of school curriculum. I am of the opinion that it will be an enheartening change.
The first point to support the importance of international news is that it reminds young people of the forces of globalization and international developments. In today’s world, businesses operate beyond borders and countries are closely connected with each other. Any country that fails to recognize this would miss out on the benefits of globalization. To young people, watching international news leads them to develop a global perspective and world vision. They learn to elicit information from news and use it in decision making, for example, studying abroad, career option, and so forth. It is of critical importance as they are very likely to face stiff international competition later in life.
Another benefit obtained from studying international news is enhancing young people’s capabilities and skills, such as critical thinking skills. Living in a society that is bombarded with different messages, many people have become lost in search for useful information and unable to understand and absorb information, Studying international news drives them to explore perspectives and get a view of every aspect of an international event. Reading editorials allows them to practice independent thinking.
Despite those benefits, integrating international news into curriculum requires educators to address several issues in advance. First, students might be distracted by a great variety of conflicting arguments produced by different experts. However, as mentioned above, it is immensely conducive to the development of their analytical skills. Meanwhile, it could be time-consuming for students to read those news stories that are identical with each other in essence, although they appear in different papers. It, therefore, requires teachers to select news in advance and play an active role.
In conclusion, one has reasons to believe that international news deserves a place in school curriculum. By reading, watching and analyzing international news, future generations will acquire knowledge of the whole world and enrich a variety of skills.
3. Identical=the same=duplicated=alike
Topic 88: Opinions divide concerning what plays a more important role in people’s personality development, nature or nurture. What is your opinion?
(genetic tendencies), (endow us with inborn abilities and traits), (behavioral patterns)(ways of thinking)(genetic predisposition to alcoholism),(fraternal twins) (reared apart),(show many similarities)(reared under the same condition ),(differences in their genes),(do not resemble each other)
(environmental influences )
(influenced by environment),
(Conditioned by environment) (Life experience) (Main factor)
The idea of nature-versus-nurture has long been debated, with no conclusive resolution. People are faced with an apparent paradox: while some studies have ascertained that no nexus exists between genes and behavioral patterns, anecdotal evidence suggests that it is not a foregone conclusion. This essay is to evaluate these two schools of thoughts, with some facts being closely examined.
It is still a myth why some children, born in affluent families and raised in a positive enriching environment, still embark on a career of crime and self destruction. It points to factors outside of the parental and educational environment; or in plain words, it could be traced back to genetics and thus a natural progression. It must be remembered that life is not simple. Nor is any human being. Even though environment is so overwhelming that it either suppresses or fortifies personality traits of individuals, individuals differ from each other in many aspects, rather than show identical traits. Genetic difference shows its effect from as early as one’s preschool years, throughout adolescence and into adulthood.
The impacts of nature seem sizeable in some other cases. For example, a couple can give birth to twins who resemble each other in both appearance and behaviour. Ruthlessly separated at birth, and brought up in completely different environment, the twins would most likely grow into identical adults, developing extremely similar characteristics and even showing the same likes and dislikes. So striking are the effects of their genetic make-up that those of the environment are obscured.
Despite the strong proof that nature is responsible for one’s behaviour, it is not to deny the function of the environment people are raised in. Studies show that many young criminals come from problem families, who have a history of violence and Clime. Without good job prospects, they end up with finding solace in gangs. The circle of poverty and crime will continue, as these young criminals start new families with the characteristics of their own.
As suggested above, people are made up by both learned and born traits. There is no need to reach a conclusion that either environment or nature plays a decisive part in one’s character and behaviour development. Although the effect of genetic heredity is overt, one cannot afford to ignore that of environment where a child is brought up.
3. Ascertain=find out=establish
5. A foregone conclusion
7. Raise=bring up=rear=nurture
8. Embark on=initiate=attempt
10. Resemble=bear a resemblance to=be similar to
13. Solace=comfort= consolation
Topic 89: Do you think that parents should be punished if their five-year-old child commits a crime? From what age should children be held responsible for their own behaviors?
(imitate the way parents speak and behave), ( tell right from wrong);
(commit their guardianship), ( accountable for negligence) ;
(provide education), (provide parental guidance), (cultivate a child’s value and behaviour), (pay a price for being neglectful parents)
(display aggression), (naughty),
Parents’ intervention can heavily influence a child’s personality and behaviour development. It is an interesting subject of discussion whether parents should be liable for their five-year-old child’s law offending behaviour or even subject to punishment. In my viewpoint, parents must be held responsible.
Unlike adults, children break the law in the absence of either incentive or motive. Their acts are accidental and intuitive, signaling the accumulative effect of the environment where they grow up. Children in formative years are particularly susceptible to whom they meet and what they see in their daily lives. For example, their violent acts are very likely to reflect a mixed effect of their repeated exposure to violence. Parents should therefore act as gatekeepers to prevent their children from watching TV and playing video games, thereby negating the influence of media. Once a child uses violence, it reveals that his or her parents have habitually failed to fulfill those duties. For this reason, parents should be accountable for their child’s wrongdoing.
Another example to show parents’ effect on their child’s behaviour is that many parents fail to set a positive role model. More often than not, parents have their own behaviour problems (such as using violence in the face of their children). As children have a natural ability to imitate others, their violent or unlawful behaviour is potentially a replica of their parents’. That’s why children with fine upbringing normally show their courtesy and professional etiquettes in coping with real-life problems, such as conflicts with others, while those children with poor upbringing are more likely to act violently. People are thus not surprised to see that many young delinquents had unhappy lives and felt discontented with their life circumstances in which they grew up.
In general, 18 is the age when an individual starts to be legally responsible for his or her acts. This is an age from which a child is ready to explore life him-or-herself and assumes life responsibilities. For the most part they are allowed to vote, drive, drink and smoke. They have sufficient experience, knowledge and competence for decision making and reaching moral conclusions.
In conclusion, parents should be subject to punishment when their children violate the law, in view of their tremendous influence on their child’s behaviour. It is their inescapable responsibility until their child comes of age.
2. Subject to= exposed to
3. In the absence of=lacking
8. Gatekeeper =guardian=protector=custodian
9. Negate=counteract=reverse=wipe out
12. For the most part=on the whole=principally
14. Come of age=come to maturity=become an adult
Topic 90: Some scientists believe that studying the behaviour of 3-year-old children can predict their criminality. To what extent do you think a crime is a product of human nature or is it possible to stop children from growing up to be criminals?
(heredity, genetic dispositions, heritable genes )
(family factors) , (poverty), (lack of discipline ); (poor communication), (family violence ) (abuse or neglect)
(schooling), (peer group),(social setting), (cultural background), (economic status)
The age-old nature as nurture debate is concerned mainly with reaching a conclusion over genetic and environmental influences on criminal behaviour, which has long been a subject of interest to psychologists and criminologists. Some scientists subscribe to a view that studying the behaviour of 3- year-old children can help foretell their criminality. To the best of my knowledge, both genes and environment have a bearing over the development of one’s behaviour patterns, including criminal or violent behaviour.
The notion that some individuals have a genetic predisposition for criminal behaviour can seek support from a large number of facts. For example, aggression and impulsivity, two personality traits commonly found among adult criminals, are in fact evident from as early as those people’s preschool years. Criminals are also diagnosed to share a similar set of psychological problems, indicating their heritable nature. If given the right circumstances, individuals with those genes would eventually engage in criminal activity. For example, the children raised in an environment where violence and illegitimacy are norms are more likely to commit similar crimes in adulthood. It is therefore fair to say that the effect of heredity is worsened by the environment.
While the impact of genetic predisposition is recognized, genetics is not solely responsible for unlawful acts. Criminal tendencies are admittedly clear among those children whose parents have a long criminal history. However, the chances for their engagement in criminal activities would not become bigger until they are exposed to an environment that breeds such activities. Environment can modify, weaken or reinforce one’s characteristics. It is the reason why a child can act in a different manner from his or her parents. It is neither practicable nor rational to make a moral judgment on a child simply by their genetic makeup and label him or her as a criminal while ignoring the influence of factors like education.
A proper understanding of the impact of environment on individual behaviour also enables people to recognize the influence of some other elements, such as schooling and upbringing. Children, whose biological parents have criminal records, have the potential for personal success, if adopted and reared by well-educated and upper class families. Likewise, children who experience family problems like family breakdown and child abuse are more likely to commit violent crimes later in life. These elements, working either in isolation or in groups, lead to a child’s criminal behaviour.
In the light of the facts outlined above, one can conclude that the interaction between genes and the environment is a predictor of criminal behaviour. Certain genes, when combined with certain environmental factors, lead to criminal behaviour.
To prevent individuals with criminal disposition from committing crimes, schooling, parenting and some other factors are of critical importance.
1. Age-old =long-standing
Topic 91: Computers do not help children learn more effectively. On the contrary, the use of computers has a negative effect on children’s physical and mental development. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(topical issue), (have a broad knowledge of many subjects);
(obsessed with the computer) (create distractions) ;
(excessive reliance on computer use)
The new millennium computer technology is set to become an essential feature of the society. People are very often confronted with the argument concerning the impact of widespread computer use on young people. In my opinion, using computers can be either beneficial or harmful, so moderation is the key.
Excessive use of computers is unarguably detrimental, as it can place children at risk in terms of their physical, social and psychological development. Studies have pointed to the fact that children need physical activity and social interaction to be healthy, happy and productive individuals. Unmonitored use of computers isolates them from those activities and makes them indifferent to the real world. They are so immersed in the computer that they are rarely concerned about the people and matters around them. It leads to a drop in their interaction with others, organized sports and other social activities that are conducive to their development.
Another hazard of excessive computer use is children’s increased exposure to violent and sexual contents beyond their years, which have long-term negative effects on their lives. Repeated exposure to violence has been recognized and singled out as a decisive element responsible for children’s subsequent aggressive behaviour. Although computer games that have violent themes have been forbidden in many countries, tens of thousands of children are vulnerable to other forms of violence that spread on the Internet.
Despite the negative effects of excessive computer use, adults can take advantage of computer technology in different areas of education. Educational games, for example, are believed to have positive effects on children’s intellectual well-being. Some computer games are developed specifically to help children develop academic skills required for schoolwork. Computers meanwhile provide an escape for children who experience high levels of pressure in the daytime and offer them a balance between campus and off-campus life.
As suggested above, healthy and appropriate use of computers is accepted and encouraged. By giving children ongoing instructions, imposing a limit on computer time and classing the types of content a child can view, teachers and parents are able to use the computer technology to great advantage while avoiding possible harms.
3. Immersed in=absorbed in=engrossed by
4. Rarely=hardly=seldom=once in a blue moon
7. Theme=main subject=main idea
Topic 92: In modern society, some people argue that schools become unnecessary as children can study at home via the Internet. Do you agree or disagree?
(no waste of time in transportation), (provide convenience), (students with disabilities);
(make the class more lively with the use of multimedia) ;
(Learn at their own pace), ( improve the efficiency of study)
( time between student input and feedback);
(too many distractions at home), (demand a high level of autonomy and commitment), (high rate of failures and drop-outs) ;
(lack communication and teamwork), ( cause communication barriers) ;
(teach students in accordance with their own characteristics and differences)
The rapid progression of the Internet has paved the way for the growing popularity of distance learning. People are now speculating on the possibility of the Internet taking the place of a traditional school. In my opinion, given the continued advance in technology, Internet-based learning can serve as an alternative to traditional class-based learning.
Online education has a large number of advantages. It allows students to set their own study time.
Unlike traditional learning, online courses offer children greater flexibility and enable them to create a timetable in line with their needs and characteristics. Students can also save tuition fees, because a virtual school normally charges students much less than a conventional school does. It is particularly a great option for those students with physical handicaps, who have great difficulties in commuting to school campus. For those who live far away from the school, online education is remarkably favorable. It can be expected that the Internet is very likely to replace a physical school as an education provider in the near future if its drawbacks are removed.
The first drawback of a virtual school is lack of human contact, as opposed to a noted merit of traditional teacher-led education, providing students with ongoing daily interactions with teachers. This weakness can be solved by taking advantage of bandwidth network technologies. The interaction between students can be guaranteed when one can contact with another whenever and wherever he or she likes-via email, post comments on message boards and chat rooms, or even videoconference for communication. Educators are also concerned that online learning cannot make all skills and knowledge transferable. For example, some courses require a high proportion of hands-on practice, which is beyond the capacity of online training; this problem can be nevertheless addressed by introducing multimedia as a teaching aid. By using audio and video, students can sample different learning styles and acquire both general and specialized knowledge of a subject.
As suggested above, there are plenty of benefits of online learning, including flexibility, cost saving and convenience. Although it has two problems, lack of interaction and failing to provide a wide range of courses, both can be overcome as technology advances.
2. Speculate on=consider=contemplate
3. Take the place of=substitute=supplant
Topic 93: The computer is widely used in education and some people think that teachers will not play important roles in the classroom. To what extent do you agree?
(programmatic limitations), (lack of flexibility )
( lack of interaction), (fill students’ emotional needs)
(impair vision); ( students’ health) ;
(discern students’ inappropriate behaviors)
(even out workloads), (assess student capabilities with tests, and assess their progress)
(interesting drills) (increase learning enjoyment) ;
(computer simulation) (entry level training)
Computers have been favored by more and more educators and teachers as a key component of a perfect educational environment. Its role in a traditional classroom is nevertheless a subject of debate, with myriad arguments being advanced both in support of and against its impact on the role of a teacher.
One of the major drawbacks of the computer is lack of flexibility. Due to its programmatic limitations, its teaching is uniform, repetitive, standardized and therefore unsuited to the specific needs of a student. For example, it can only answer questi.ons which have been programmed into it but fails to answer any unusual, non-standard and unprecedented question. By contrast, a human teacher is able to respond flexibly with giving well-tailored, persuasive and inspiring answers. For this reason, a computer hardly functions as effectively as a human teacher does.
Another disadvantage of the computer, which makes it unaligned with the philosophy of the contemporary education, is its failure to interact with students. Out of technical constraints, the computer is interested in eliciting the desired response only. Students’ unexpected performance, potentially exceptional and distinguished, is not recognized by the computer. It is fair to say that computers achieve nothing but make all education into an uncritical type of vocational training. Students are conditioned to absorb information without questioning and given no chance to express their personal opinions.
There are some other problems inherent in the computer-based teaching, such as inability to discipline students and failing to attend to students’ emotional needs, making this model of teaching not as competent as the traditional style. However, the contribution of the computer as a teaching aid can never be underrated. It not only assists teachers to present educational materials in diversified ways but also provides repetitive drills to improve the students’ command of knowledge. With the computer, the teacher can spend less time all paper work and concentrate more on the development of a student in other aspects, such as creativity and teamwork skills. It is essential to advancing rounded education.
Taking into consideration those above-mentioned characteristics of computer-based teaching, one can conclude that the computer can only serve as a teaching aid, facilitating students’ interest in a topic and assisting them to take in information faster, rather than taking the place of the teacher.
4. Unsuited to=incompatible with
7. Unaligned with=inconsistent with
9. Uncritical =unsuspecting
10. Attend to=look after=care for
13. Take the place of=replace
Topic 94: Although it is generally prohibited, corporal punishment persists in many families. Do you think corporal punishment is an acceptable way to regulate children’s behaviors?
(physical and mental health);
(solve problems by means of violence );
( result in rebellion), (lead only to a downward spiral);
(impair the relation between children and parents), (incite hatred for their parents) ;
(have little confidence on their study and future life), (keep their self-respect), (cause autism); (a form of discipline),
(gain a profound understanding of their faults),
( prevent them from committing the same errors)
Physical punishment is of concern for many researchers. A subject of broad interest is how physical punishments link to the internal and external influences that a child may be exposed to. Either from studies or people’s experience, the use of corporal punishment can cause short and long term effects on a child’s personality, identity and behaviour.
Although many parents attempt to control the intensity of physical punishment, their behaviour, in many instances, increases the likelihood of causing remediless harm to their children. The distinction between discipline and abuse is hardly clear-cut, and there is no assurance that parents can control their discipline properly. Physical injury seems to be an inevitable result in most cases. For example, spanks are widely accepted by many parents as a method of discipline, but, unfortunately, most parents hit harder when children recommit the offence. Injuries are therefore well-documented.
In addition to physical harm, corporal punishment has been considered as the facilitator of many kinds of emotional harms. For example, children who are exposed to intense and frequent physical punishment are more likely than their peers to suffer depression, unhappiness, anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. The accumulative effects of these problems have a profound influence over most survivors of physical punishment. They lose courage to venture and have no desire for being creative individuals, as they only try things their parents permit them to do.
There are also some other negative outcomes, such as behavioral problems. Corporal punishment is perhaps not the sole factor responsible for delinquent behaviour among children, but there is no denying that it increases children’s tendency to act out and attack their siblings, peers or even parents. It is particularly true when children receive physical punishment intensely. Even worse, victims of physical punishment might use violence as one of the main parenting methods when they become parents. It is a vicious cycle.
In conclusion, physical punishment can affect a child’s life forever. It is imperative that every parent control the extent to which they physically punish their children in order to avoid any negative behaviour problems.
1. Physical punishment=corporal punishment
2. In many instances=in many cases=under some circumstances
Topic 95: It is not uncommon that children are required to obey the rule of their parents and teachers. Some people are worried that too much control over children will not prepare them well for their adult life. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.
(parenting); (authoritarian), (authoritative), (permissive) (uninvolved ); (authoritarian); (tolerant) (permissive); (authoritative) (establish basic guidelines)
(result in rebellion), hate their parents, who apply strict rules and impose punishment);
( result in docile obedience), (afraid to try and fail), (fail to demonstrate considerable self-regulation)
(lack of independence), (conquer difficulties and handle different situations); (low self-esteem), (feel unworthy), (suffer high levels of depression) ;
(stifle creativity), (deny children the opportunity to express individuality)
(form appropriate behaviour patterns), (stop their misbehavior),
( take the right path to success)
Adults’ intervention plays a pivotal role in a child’s development. Despite this general knowledge, people are very often confronted with the arguments about the appropriateness of some traditional teaching styles and methods, such as enforcing rules and requiring children’s compliance. I agree that rules set by parents contribute greatly to the shaping of children’s behaviour, personalities and all other personal characteristics, although I question the view that it is definitely beneficial to children.
There is no points in denying that rule setting is possibly the most effective method in overcoming some upbringing difficulties, such as protecting children from dangers and guiding them to act rationally. Children are adventuresome and full of curiosity. They attempt various activities, either with deliberation or on the spur of the moment. Imposing rules is therefore imperative, as it prevents many problems from occurring. For example, forbidding accessing knives, medicine, microwaves or ovens can minimize the risk of accidents and injuries. Some other rules, such as forbidding spitting, nose-picking and foul language, lead children to develop proper demeanor in different social situations, and to adhere to strict rules of professional etiquettes from their early childhood.
However, rules should be lifted gradually as children grow older, especially when it becomes clear that rules tend to restrain children’s mental development. In a traditional classroom, for example, rules are set and applied to underpin the authority of a teacher. Students are not allowed to pose questions at will, nor are they allowed to challenge teachers’ answers. Many of their questions remain unanswered, presenting obstacles to their learning process and forming numerous misconceptions. Another problem is that it will discourage students from reflecting on what they have learnt, and dampen their passion for learning. They are trained as mechanical or rote learners, while their aptitude for creativity is stifled.
As indicated above, whether to impose rules on children is determined as much by the age of children as by the appropriateness of rules themselves. For younger children, strict rules should be set to ensure children’s safety and health. For older children, rules should be concerned about children’s behaviour on social occasions. When children become responsible and knowledgeable with age, rules should be phased out.
1. Rationally =sensibly =reasonably
3. Deliberation=careful consideration
4. Demeanor = behavior = manner = conduct
5. Lift = revoke = rescind =cancel
6. Restrain=hold back=hold down=control
8. Misconception=mistaken belief=misunderstanding=fallacy
9. Reflect on= mull over=meditate on=contemplate
11. Mechanical = unthinking
13. With age=as one grows up
14. Phase out=abolish=forsake
Topic 96: The children who grow up in a family short of money are more capable of dealing with problems in adult life than children who are brought up by wealthy parents. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(Lack of the access to quality education), (get low-skilled jobs);
(without a loving and nurturing home environment) (domestic violence),
(Lack of self-esteem),
(have few opportunities to broaden experiences),
(communicate and socialize effectively with people from different walks of life)
(difficult to expand their social networks),
(encounter obstacles but obtain no support from others),
(bear a burden, including domestic tasks),
( have the maturity to behave and think like an adult);
( more resilient), (have extraordinary endurance of hardships) , (more accustomed to pressure and problems), (more willing to take on challenges) ;
(being kind-hearted), (a strong circle of friends ),
Of those elements that bear a considerable influence on children’s personal development, one of the most influential is family background. There is a perception that the children who grow up in an impoverished family are more capable of solving problems than those from an affluent family. In my opinion, it might not always be the case.
One’s problem-solving abilities are mainly derived from the knowledge and experience obtained during his or her adolescence. Not surprisingly, children from poor families are less likely to maximize their education. First of all, their parents are unwilling to select a reputable school for them, as tuition fees can take up a large proportion of family income. Another reason is that education, in general, requires devoted time and energy, but many children have to work from an early age in order to supplement their parents’ income. Because of their poor educational background, they do not have specialized knowledge in solving problems as required in a specific area of work. They are thus at a severe disadvantage in problem-solving in a working environment.
Another problem that plagues the children from less advantaged backgrounds is their limited access to financial support and expert guidance. Children with highly-educated and rich parents are more likely to be better off economically, not only because they have sufficient financial backup but also because they can easily seek the support from others, for example, the friends of their parents, professionals in different occupations. It is true that compared with disadvantaged children, children from medium or high class families have many more opportunities to attend social functions like balls, banquets, and so forth, where they improve social skills, learn professional etiquettes and consolidate their social network. With a larger social network, they are at an advantage in problem-solving.
As discussed above, while children from a poor background are normally socially inept and less knowledgeable, those from middle or upper class families have easy access to resources. These distinctions corroborate the assertion that family background has undisputed impacts on children’s problem solving abilities.
1. Impoverished = poor = indigent = destitute = disadvantaged
2. Affluent = wealthy = well-off = financially comfortable
3. Adolescence = teens = teenage years = youth
4. At a disadvantage=in a weak position=vulnerable=disadvantaged
5. Plague = afflict = trouble = bother = beleaguer = harass
6. Function = gathering = social occasion
7. Banquet = feast =formal meal
8. Social network=social circle
9. At an advantage = in a strong position =get the upper hand
10. Inept = incompetent=unskilled
11. Corroborate=support=substantiate=back up=uphold
Topic 97: One’s character traits are strongly influenced by the place where he or she grew up. Discuss the impacts of an urban environment and those of a rural environment on a child’s character development.
(unable to receive a decent education), (impair employability and productivity) ;
(not well informed with new fads),
(resistant to change), (biased);
( follow convention), ( unsophisticated) ;
( altruistic), ( communal life )
(drug use ); (alcoholism), (spend more time watching television and playing computer games)
(higher competitive pressure )
(selfish and snobbish) (sensitive to impending threats);
(lack of communication) (embrace new concepts)
It is well acknowledged that healthy growth conditions in early life are the prerequisite of a child’s positive growth patterns. For this reason, some people are concerned about the impacts of living in rural or urban areas on a child’s character development. Below is an outline of the potential impacts of a rural or urban environment on a child’s personality and behaviour.
Poverty is one of the main problems in the countryside, either entrenched or escalating, leading directly to poor living standards. Because of parents’ limited disposable income, children in rural areas are less likely to receive adequate child care or comfortable housing than their urban counterparts. These conditions are crucial to children’s physical health and emotional well-being. Likewise, the soaring abuse and neglect rates in rural families negatively influence children’s character building.
Children in rural areas are ready outlets for their parents, who feel frustrated and depressed in maintaining a standard of living. Raised in an environment where violence is normal and consequences of violence are ignored, children might grow up to be individuals who are less conscious of the rights of others (including family members and friends) and more likely to use violence.
Another problem is literacy. Low standards of education, which seem to be a defining characteristic of rural areas, are attributed to a mixture of factors-lack of public schools, children’s early involvement in income-generating activities and inadequate awareness of education. It is quite clear that income disparity between urban and rural families leads to the difference in the access to education, which has a bearing on children’s characters. While a well-educated child is confident, broad-minded, creative and cultivated, a poorly-educated child is inhibited, narrow-minded or even boorish.
In spite of the fact that urban children are able to receive an excellent education, it does not automatically mean that they will grow up without character flaws. In fact, it seems that they are more susceptible to bad habits and social evils. Illegal substances are more common among urban juveniles than among rural adolescents. Uniformity and lifelessness of outdoor environments is another problem. Garden settings, which are believed to have a healing power for people living under great pressure, are rare in a metropolitan area. By comparison, children living in the country are more likely to access outdoor play, a recreation activity that can improve moods and prevent feelings of isolation.
Based on the points outlined above, I believe that environment has a direct bearing on children’s character development. Poverty and illiteracy are two common features of rural areas and can contribute to children’s negative characters. By contrast, children from urban areas are more likely to feel pressured and isolated, which can trigger erratic behaviour.
2. Escalating=rising=swelling=getting bigger
3. Disposable=used at will
4. Disparity=difference = discrepancy
Topic 98: Do you think it is good to push students to study hard in their youth?
(reinforce their education with homework and reading) (strengthen his or her sense of responsibility )
(improve general knowledge), (increase mastery of basic academic skills, such as reading, writing, spelling and mathematics);
(deal with stressful feelings)
(rote learner), ( little room for imagination) ;
(overemphasize school performance) (damage their self-esteem) ;
(participate in after-school activities), (physical, psychological and emotional well-being)
High expectations for children are nothing new in today’s society. It leads to the tendency to push children to study harder and harder. In my opinion, the connection between effort and achievement is quite obvious and should not be denied.
As children grow older, they are more capable of learning more and the amount of time they spend in studying should increase correspondingly. Hard work can raise the odds of success by increasing their knowledge (both general and specialized), improving their abilities and expanding their skill set. All are essential to their success later in life. Without the full commitment to schoolwork, students might end up with struggling with failing school performance and even dropping out of the school.
Full engagement in schooling also matches the trends of a modern society. To succeed in today’s challenging economy, young people need advanced skills in core subjects like English, math and science, as well as the ability to use computers, solve problems effectively, think critically and work in teams. It appears that most students lack motivation to study and their attention can be diverted easily by such distractions as video games. Without an unmistakable message delivered to them that academic achievement is what makes them survive in this competitive world, they will not learn as much as their ability and effort permits.
Despite the great value of hardworking, one should bear in mind the fact that students of all ages need time to play and relax. They should be given freedom to develop their hobbies and encouraged to dabble in different activities, so they can learn in depth about .the world, explore ideas and soothe themselves. Children’s tolerance for stress is another noteworthy issue. Failing to cope with stress might disable students from maintaining their interest in studying. A prolonged period of learning is disruptive to children’s learning outcomes, distancing students from critical thinking and turning them into rote learners.
From what has been discussed, studying hard is critical to a student’s success, helping him or her acquire more knowledge in his or her youth and leading him or her to focus on schoolwork. However, the balance between work and relaxation should be considered in equal measure, Parents and teachers are advised to help children design their timetables scientifically in case that they are fed up with studying.
1. Connection = correlation = relationship = link
2. Odds = chance = probability = likelihood
3. Specialized = particular = specific = focused
4. Commitment = dedication = devotion
6. Unmistakable = clear = unambiguous = clear-cut
7. Soothe = comfort = appease = pacify
8. Tolerance = forbearance = acceptance
9. Rote learner = learner who learns things by repeating them
10. Fed up with = tired of = bored with
Topic 99: Some people argue that it is good for children to stay away from their families and go to a boarding school. Others suggest that children live with their families and attend a day school. What is your opinion?
(have to cope with geographic displacement frequently), (educational continuity);
(regular supervised study periods), (high achievement standards) ;
(communal life) (The community atmosphere fosters relationships between students and others, such as faculty and classmates),
(experience social detachment);
(alienate children from parents), (emotional needs),
(Less free time),
(peer groups become a more significant force)
Many parents expect their children to live at home until college. However, there are occasions on which parents have to send their children to a boarding school, an educational institution not only giving educational instruction but also providing food and lodging. A boarding school, as an alternative to a day school, has its advantages and disadvantages, as outlined below.
The boarding school option means early separation from parents. For this reason, a student’s self-reliance and independence are both bolstered. Living away from home, students have to make most of daily decisions by themselves. They have to adjust to another set of new circumstances and surroundings, which is a good opportunity for them to exercise a variety of skills, such as social skills. Rather than depending on their parents, students have to do the laundry themselves, manage their diets, and keep their bedrooms clean and tidy. They are more self-disciplined than those who attend day schools.
In addition, there is no denying that to many parents, a boarding school provides a choice that merits particular attention, and sometimes, the sole option. Geographic relocation, for example, presents a problem of educational continuity. Because of their career, parents might have to resettle in a neighborhood where schooling facilities are inadequate. A boarding school is the best option to them, as it protects children from the influence of frequent relocations. It also suits those families where parents are so devoted to their work that they fail to bear care responsibilities.
Although boarding schools succeed in satisfying the needs of some families, opponents are concerned about their mixed impacts on children’s development. For example, their intervention on children’s academic years appears to be excessive. Extracurricular programs occupy children’s free time and children are required to obey a large number of rules, most of which are stringent and redundant. Any minor mistake can engender punishment or even expulsion. Without permission, students cannot go outside defined school bounds. It is no exaggeration to say that children are virtually living in an isolated world.
From what has been discussed, one can observe that a boarding school has its position in a fast paced society, assisting children to enhance their independence and undertaking care responsibilities as a replacement of parents, although students might have to face limited contact with their families, communities and the loss of freedom.
1. Lodging=accommodation=temporary housing
3. Self-disciplined= temperate=moderate
7. Stringent = strict = rigorous =rigid=inflexible
8. Engender = provoke = cause = bring out
9. Expulsion = exclusion = discharge = kicking out
10. Without permission = without authorization
Topic 100: People tend to believe that all young adults should undertake a period of unpaid work for the good of the community. Do you agree or disagree?
(gain experience, especially first-hand experience), (learn and exercise skills), (strengthen the sense of responsibility/ obligation),
(help others on an impromptu basis),
(establish norms of solidarity and reciprocity) ;
( build mutual trust)
( mandatory), (enthusiasm);
(constitute a distraction)
In recent years, it has become more and more common for societies to encourage and organize young people to work as volunteers for non-profit organizations and the community. Community service has even been proposed as a requirement for graduation in some middle schools. There is a lot of opposition to “mandatory” volunteer work, a term which seems to be self-contradictory. I agree that the voluntary participation of youths is required, but volunteerism is a preferred option to most youngsters in today’s world.
A fact to support volunteerism is that it allows young people to gain experience and exercise skills, which are beneficial for their performance in the future workplace. Most of the young workers that are volunteering have little social experience, as they spend much of their time at school. Working with others and interacting with people from all social backgrounds, they can enhance their abilities of problem solving, communication and teamwork. They are thus better prepared for the public life in the future.
Another benefit of volunteer ism is the development of a young worker’s motivation to help others and serve the interest of others without reward, a spirited fight back against individualism and egoism. A worrying trend in today’s society is that a young adult’s motivation is sourced more from individual interest than from the interest of others. Organizing volunteer service on a large scale, especially among youngsters, can counteract the corrosive effect of this trend. Youngsters are directed to look after the good of others and help others without asking for payment or reward. In the long term, it upholds a sense of community rebuilds the cohesion among members of community and reduces distrust that is escalating between people.
Despite those merits of organized volunteer work, participants’ entire willingness should be guaranteed. Otherwise, they would be less willing or likely to commit to their work. Instead of enforcing a policy without consulting young people in advance, schools can take another approach, showing youngsters the meaningfulness of their commitment to the local community. If possible, young adults can be given a range of options so they can choose one that is most helpful for their skill enhancement,
It seems from the above discussion that youngsters should be encouraged to participate in volunteer work, increasing both skills and their awareness of the long-run interest of the community in which they live. If administered well, volunteer work has benefits to both individual workers and the society as a whole.
1. Without reward=without payment=free of charge=voluntarily:
2. Counteract = counter-offset =neutralize
3. Good =interest= benefit
4. Cohesion = unity = solidarity
7. Consult =discuss with=seek advice from
8. Meaningfulness = significance
9. Enhancement = improvement
Topic 101: Some people believe that students who graduate from high school should have one year’s time to obtain work experience before going to university. Do you agree or disagree?
(maintain a balance between their studies and the workload from their part-time jobs) ;
(identify career preference and areas of interest) ;
(apply what they learn in practice), (develop decision-making and problem-solving skills),
fail to meet the requirements of employers), (unable to cope with hardships incurred), (suffer setbacks), (lose confidence in making a transition from school to work) ;
(hard to find jobs that match one’s characters and interests), (a waste of time and energy);
( continuity of education),
Schooling plays an integral part in individual’s life. At the end of high school, students who wish to continue with their education face two probable choices-either suspend their study for a year to obtain work experience, or go straight into university. The second choice appears to be more sensible.
Coming fresh out of high school, students do not have a clear understanding of the harsh realities of the world. Either in academic background or in work experience, they are not in a strong position to undertake early employment. Exposure to an unpredictable and daunting world will easily cause a sense of frustration and shake their confidence, both having a devastating effect on their development later in life.
Another problem of early employment is that most young people are not able to make a correct career decision. Choosing a career requires sufficient knowledge of one’s own strengths, aptitudes and the trends in the job market. Most young adults, unfortunately, lack such knowledge. Their initial experience in a job might lead them to jump on a conclusion and devote themselves to a career without careful consideration. So fast is their fondness for this job that their affinity to the job is mostly ephemeral. It can ruin their entire working lives.
Another noteworthy problem of working is that it might divert a young adult’s attention from his or her previous academic objectives. If students give up the opportunity of being educated and pursue other ventures, they will lose their abilities and willpower to learn something carefully and patiently. The side effect of disengagement from schooling might not be significant in the first several years, but with age, it will surely disadvantage them a lot. Before long, disillusioned with early employment, young people might resolve to resume study but soon discover that they are not suitable for a learning environment any more.
It is therefore clear that students should not attempt a career life once they finish high school’s study. Instead they should go to college directly, and ensure that their future is built on solid foundations, before exploring what else life has to offer.
6. Daunting = intimidating = demoralizing= discouraging
7. Fondness = affection
9. Ephemeral=short-lived=transient= fleeting=brief
10. Pursue = practice = engage in
11. Venture = undertaking
12. Disengagement = disconnection = severance
13. Disillusioned =disenchanted =disappointed=disheartened
14. Resolve to=decide to=be determined to
Topic 102: In order to improve the quality of education, high school students should be encouraged to evaluate and criticize their teachers, but others think it will result in loss of respect and discipline in classroom. What is your opinion?
( increased knowledge and comprehension as well as motivation and result) (student-centered), (arouse students’ interest in class),( improvement of instruction) ;
(open up an evolving dialogue),
( contain prejudice), ( disrupt teaching) ;
(comment on teachers with contempt and defamatory remark), (gain the respect they deserve);
(cater for students)
Teacher appraisal is not a new instrument in improving teaching performance or developing teacher training. However, when it comes to inviting the input of students and seeking their comments on teachers’ performance, there is disagreement. Some people object to this practice, saying that it leads to the loss of respect and discipline. In my opinion, students’ participation in teacher appraisal is definitely helpful, but it should be administrated properly.
A strong argument for using student ratings to evaluate teachers is that students’ judgment is reliable and impartial. Because of their ongoing interaction with teachers throughout the semester, students have the authority to measure the performance and competence of a teacher, with the knowledge they have obtained from learning and the stance they have adopted toward the subject taught. A critical analysis of students’ feedback enables teachers to enhance their competence and adjust teaching aims and methods for better attainment of students’ learning objectives.
Students are also concerned about whether the teacher is fully committed to his or her job. The value of a teacher is determined as much by competence as by commitment. The school can therefore assess the performance of a teacher by collecting students’ feedback on some observable facts, such as a teacher’s punctuality and the legibility of his or her writing on the board. Teachers who perform poorly are advised to reflect deeply on their teaching practice, the drawbacks in particular, which is the key to the improvement of their performance.
Despite those overt advantages of encouraging students’ input, analysis of their input is important and should be handled carefully. Misinterpretation of students’ opinions might leave teachers an inaccurate picture of their strengths and weaknesses and lead them into a poor judgment about what they can do to satisfy the needs of their students. It is also important to guide teachers to perceive the feedback sensibly; otherwise, they might have feelings of powerlessness.
What has been discussed is to support a notion that students’ input provides an important source of data for evaluating teachers, helping teachers not only to discover their disadvantages but also to make an improvement.
1. Object to = disapprove of
7. Observable =apparent
8. Punctuality = timekeeping
9. Legibility =readability
10. Reflect on = meditate on=think over
13. Powerlessness =lack of authority
Topic 103: Schools should teach children the academic subjects which have a close relationship with their future careers, so other subjects like music and sports are not important. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(reduce stress), (help us to relax), (create a mood), (create a favorable school environment), (reawaken the desire to learn);
(maintain or increase their level of physical, mental, social, and emotional functioning), (develop a positive self-image); (develop good sportsmanship), ( value fair play and honesty);
(prepare for future career)
There are many indications that schools have become increasingly vocation-oriented in recent years, with integrating many work-based courses in curriculum. Some academics advocate that sport and music classes should be cancelled in exchange for more academic classes, in an effort to help students beat other jobseekers. This argument has several strong elements that deserve attention.
The first is that few employers are interested in a job applicant’s performance as music lover or sports fan. Instead, they are keen to assess candidates’ academic records and professional skills. At a time when business grows complex and skill-based, the evidence that candidates have sufficient knowledge relating to their job profession is more capable to attract the eye of recruiters. A student excelling in a subject is far more marketable in the job market than one playing a music instrument adeptly, or displaying talents in a sport.
Another reason is that students, in most cases, engage themselves in sports or music spontaneously. There is no need to formalize their pastimes, when the amount of time they spend in academic activities is desperately inadequate. Teenagers and young adults have plenty of energy to expend daily. Even when heavily loaded with learning tasks, they exert themselves for outdoors and group activities. They gather for sport activities and concerts, but seldom review their textbooks after school. Given these elements, the top priority for educators is to maximize students’ contact with academic classes at school and to recommend sports and music as extracurricular activities only.
The above discussion favors a conclusion that sport and music classes should be cancelled so students are more likely to commit themselves to academic courses, which are more important to their forces that foster the consistency of young adults’ unemployment, which can be analyzed and tackled separately. This essay will present an overall view of these causes and potential solutions.
The biggest single cause of rising unemployment among young people is their lack of work experience and qualifications. Fresh from high school or college, young jobseekers generally have little, if any, practical experience. Besides, most of the knowledge they have acquired is from text, which is not satisfactorily consistent with the general practice in the workplace. This weakness can be fatal at a time when the market has a strong preference on skilled and experienced applicants, who are ready to fill vacancies without requiring any job training. It is also the reason why employers tend to believe that young candidates possess less value than do those already in the workforce.
Another cause of high unemployment is placed at the feet of the youth themselves. Before they reach the working age, young people have little interaction with the world outside the classroom, and, as a consequence, they know little of the situation of the labour market. By the time they graduate, they have an inaccurate picture of the world. It leads to their exceedingly high occupational and wage aspiration. In addition to remuneration and financial incentives, young applicants might have other requirements, such as working environment. It causes them to lose many opportunities to join the workforce immediately.
Tackling youth unemployment requires the commitment of both society and youngsters themselves. The government can provide employers with taxation incentives for recruiting young workers. Low-cost courses, especially job training courses, should be made available for the young unemployed. Consultancy services can be provided free of charge, giving youngsters instruction on job-seeking and helping them make proper adjustment from school to work.
As suggested above, lack of work experience and inappropriate attitudes toward employment are two main reasons that account for youngsters’ unemployment. For young people possibly nothing can be more abrupt than the transition from school to work. In reducing unemployment, the government should play an active role and take a number of measures, with the emphasis placed on improving young people’s skills and adjusting their job attitudes.
1. Troubling = worrying = disturbing
3. Presume =assume=believe
4. Jobseeker =job applicant =job candidate
6. Skilled=skilful=experienced=competent=proficient=well- trained
7. Free of charge=at no cost=without charge
Topic 104: In recent years, ‘the proportion of the crimes committed by Youngsters is on the rise. Discuss causes to this problem and suggest solutions.
(Single-parent households). (emotional needs left unattended);(improper parental care),
(Limited access to education). (Receive no instruction on an ongoing basis). (serious misconduct);
(media violence) (unemployment rate), (delinquent peer group); (a strong desire for material wealth and luxury lifestyles). (illegitimate means)
(provide favorable educational opportunities and environment) ;
(provide more job opportunities)
Juvenile delinquency refers to the phenomenon that a child or young person behaves in a criminal way. In many countries, juvenile delinquency has become a topical issue. There are a wide range of factors that account for adolescents’ strong aggressive and criminal tendencies in a modem society, including poverty, repeated exposure to violence, unstable family life, delinquent peer groups, and so forth. Some of them will be discussed in detail below, followed by suggested solutions.
The most common factor responsible for juvenile crime is the loss of the family life and the increase in family violence. More and more parents nowadays show an inclination to abuse their children and treat them as an outlet of stress. It leaves young children and teenagers a misleading impression about violence and gives them composure when acting violently. Busy lifestyle is another culprit, reducing the chance of interaction between parents and children and preventing children from living and studying in a normal way. A feeling of being neglected can cause problems like learning disorders, a state in which a young person lacks motivation to organize and follow learning plans.
Exposure to violence is another factor that plays a big role in the increase of juvenile delinquency. Many studies have made it clear that the upsurge in televised violence and the video games that have violence as the main theme is closely linked to young adults’ aggressive behaviour. This effect has been compounded by the spread of the Internet, which tends to negatively impact young people of all ages, of both genders, at all economic levels and all levels of intelligence.
There are some other determining factors, but it is believed that family life and media are the most influential. In combating juvenile delinquency, one should focus on the following elements. First, an underage person should be correctly oriented in life and their negative-experience should be minimized. Whenever a behaviour problem arises, children should be given correct and immediate instruction. Meanwhile, it is imperative that parents limit or even prevent children’s exposure to violence, a trigger for their aggressive behaviors.
1. Delinquency =criminal behaviour=wrongdoing=law-breaking
2. Unstable= volatile=erratic
3. Inclination to=tendency to=fondness for=preference for
5. Disorder= confusion
Topic 105: What are the benefits of requiring young people to serve the army? Does participation in community work qualify as an alternative?
(peacetime conscription) (teach young people basic skills), (prepare for a future crisis) ;
(expand their social circle), (increase social awareness), (build a sense of independence);
(immense unity and team spirit),
(emphasize conformity, instead of individuality );
(against the will);
(impede personal development);
( the value and happiness of civilians’ lives in peace), ( waste of workforce)
(make the transition from school to work);
(relieve labour shortages in community work), (demonstrate social solidarity)
Despite the fact that military conscription is voluntary in much of the world, it remains compulsory in some countries like South Korea. In peacetime, serving the army is more than simply protecting motherland from any potential military attack. An alternative view is that it can be deemed as a test of manhood and a rite of passage from boyhood into manhood. While military training has its merits, some alternatives, such as community service, can be taken into account. Military service allows young people to reap personal benefits and enhance their personal growth.
First of all, trainees can raise their physical fitness and enjoy better health. They meanwhile develop a sense of team spirit and improve abilities to get along well with others. They learn to cope with problems independently and gain self-confidence. It also helps expand their social circle, a valuable, although intangible, asset when they return to civilian life. Servicemen have no difficulties in winning others’ respect and their experience is comparable to education work experience or recommendations. They are very often perceived as efficient, organized and excellent time managers.
Despite those benefits brought by military service, its mandatory nature is the nub of the argument. Many young people cannot cope with the high level of stress in the army. That’s why community service is suggested as an alternative in most countries. As distinct from military service, which demands fun engagement of conscripts, community service requires young volunteers to contribute part of their time, energy and skills only. Moreover, community service tends to render more direct assistance to participants in preparing for the workforce. By volunteering, young adults develop skills, gain work experience and explore career options. They can also acquire practical knowledge through service.
In view of the advantages and disadvantages of military service outlined above, one can conclude that military service is helpful only when it is voluntary. Mandatory military service does not fit all young people, whereas community service benefits every young person who wants to make a smooth transition from school to work.
1. Deem=think of=consider=regard
2. Manhood=adulthood=adult years=maturity
4. Passage =walkway =path
7. Nub=crucial point=core
Topic 106: Many people join distance-learning programs (study material, post, TV, Internet) and study at home, but some people think that it cannot bring the same benefit as attending colleges or universities does. Do you agree or disagree?
(a very original and effective educational model), (increase the opportunities of being educated); (develop technology competencies), (broaden skill set), (increase employment opportunities) ;
(Those with restricted mobility, such as the elderly, disabled and injured), (those with irregular work schedule) (Education is accessible for those living far away from schools.);
(communicate and interact with students all over the country or even the world),
(documents and materials) (Archived and recorded. ( easily retrieved) , ( for printing and reading)
(lack of in-person contact with faculty members), ( wait for a long time before receiving feedback about assignments);
(have no chance to enhance oral communication skills) ;
( many distractions at home); (Not all work industries acknowledge online degrees.)
To keep abreast of the 21st century, large numbers of people are seeking to receive tertiary education. Distance learning, a state-of-the-art educational model, has received wide currency among qualification seekers. Despite being an important alternative to formal education, whether distance learning can achieve the same effect as the traditional form of university education-i. e., going to university in person-is genuinely open to discussion.
Distance learning, first of all, requires a high degree of maturity or commitment from students because it proceeds in the absence of teachers or tutors. It suits those self-motivated and self-directed students, instead of those who have difficulty in self-scheduling and independent learning. For those young learners who are generally lack of motivation and self-control, their learning effort tends to be disorganized, futile and fragmentary. They will over time develop bad study habits and lag behind their peers.
The second weakness of distance learning is its over-dependence on media. Media have a myriad of contents that are likely to divert students’ attention from their study. Online games and browsing web pages, for example, consume much of young learners’ time. In addition, sitting in front of the computer for several hours in succession might cause boredom, fatigue, or other physical problems. The university campus, in contrast, leaves no chance for this kind of problems, because students are supervised and monitored by faculty members. Meanwhile, their interactions with classmates are constant. It is beneficial for learners to organize teamwork and develop interpersonal relationships.
As indicated above, under no circumstance can distance learning be taken as a qualified substitute for traditional methods of learning. Learners’ low motivation and commitment, inadequate interaction with teachers and some other inherent problems have made it nearly impossible to replace a traditional class with a virtual class.
1. Keep abreast of=stay up-to-date with=stay aware of
3. Currency =popularity=support=prevalence
6. Disorganized =muddled=unsystematic
8. Lag behind=drop back=drop behind=fall back=fall behind
9. In succession=consecutively=successively=in a row
Topic 107: It is argued that university students should study a full range of subjects, instead of some specific subjects. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
(interrelated), (widen scope of knowledge)
(Background knowledge), (increase employment opportunities)
(devote one’s time and energy to specific subjects), (Increase specialized knowledge),(improve competitiveness)
Since the second half of the last century, there has been a switch from the traditional manufacturing economy to a knowledge economy. Much of the world has placed a premium on the knowledge and skills one can obtain from higher education. Some academics suggest that university students should widen their study from a limited range of subject orientation to a high complexity of subjects. This proposed change merits serious consideration.
From a social aspect, current employers show a tendency to recruit youngsters who can do a various array of jobs within a single position rather than job specialists. A clerk working for a bank, for example, is required to possess a collection of skills, ranging from those learnt in the field of finance, accounting and economy to those in other relevant subjects, such as management, communication and sociology. As the job market is becoming increasingly competitive, students who dabble in different specialized areas and have experience in interdisciplinary study are expected to be in a preponderant position.
From students’ perspective, learning different subjects can be both personally fulfilling and skill enhancing. Many students tend to perceive it as unwieldy when studying several subjects they have no experience in. This challenge, if overcome, leaves individuals more room for skill enhancement. For example, extra learning requires students to take in essential information within a time frame. In coping with this task, students have to develop outstanding time management skills and show expertise in juggling different jobs at a time. With know-how, they are more adjustable in this fast-changing social setting.
According to the above advantages learning different subjects does good to university students. Not only does it make students time-conscious and versatile, but also helps students to match the needs of a fast-changing and competitive society.
1. Place a premium on
2. Merit consideration=deserve consideration
3. Preponderant = advantageous
4. Fulfilling =rewarding=pleasing=satisfying
5. Unwieldy =unmanageable
6. Take in =absorb=assimilate
7. Juggle =fit in=manage=organize =cope with=deal with
8. Know-how=knowledge=area of knowledge=area of study
9. Adjustable =flexible=adaptable