Topic 81: Wearing uniforms is popular in schools, but some people argue that it might cause damage to children's individuality. What is your opinion?
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 standardising 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 recognised based on individual characters rather than on 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 instil a sense of discipline in children. The fear that school uniforms can suppress individuality is ungrounded.
1. norm = normal ways of behaving
2. designate = choose = appoint = specify
3. wardrobe = clothes = clothing
4. inequality = disparity = inequity
5. bully = intimidator
6. conform to = abide by = comply with = follow
7. dress code = rules about clothes
8. conjure up = recall
9. obscene = sex-related
10. unify = bring together
11. suppress = stifle = repress = hold back
Topic 82: Some people think that children should learn to compete, but others think that they should be taught to cooperate with others. What's your opinion?
There has been a lot of debate among educators about whether students should work together (known as cooperative learning) or individually (known as competitive learning). While the former model of learning encourages collaboration between students, the latter seems to value individualism and personal achievement. In my opinion, cooperative learning is more favourable, despite some of its drawbacks.
Cooperative learning occurs when students work collaboratively towards a common goal. A student's achievements are positively correlated with those of his or her peers in the group. Students work together in small clusters or groups and thus have a feeling of connection with other members of the group as they accomplish a common goal. Not only can it enhance the sense of teamwork among students but also it enables students to exercise their communication skills, with much of their learning being involved in face-to-face interaction.
Another benefit of cooperative learning is allowing students to take advantage of individual strengths and combined efforts. Working in a group, each member is assigned with a task, which closely matches his or her strengths, expertise and aptitudes. It will enhance efficiency and productivity. Meanwhile, group members might discuss how well they can function as a unit throughout the process and how effective their working relationships can be. It raises the possibility of students' making swift adjustment from school to work when the time conies.
However, some characteristics of collaborative learning have made it inapplicable on some occasions. For example, successful collaboration normally requires group dynamics, great variation in skills and intellectual levels of group members and a good command of social skills, and so forth. These prerequisites can easily overwhelm the possible benefits that collaborative learning techniques may have. Although collaborative learning tends to favour ordinary or slow students with giving them more support, it turns out that talented, eager students might learn little and become disenchanted over time. This situation can be remedied by encouraging intergroup competition, grouping students and allowing them to compete in groups. It minimises the negative effect of individualism while retaining the interest of outstanding students in groupwork.
In light of the above-mentioned facts, teachers should identify the best learning style for students and predict its outcomes, either destructive or constructive. In cooperative learning, personal success springs only from group success, while in competitive learning one learner succeeds at the cost of other learners. Collaborative learning brings more benefits, despite the possibility of impeding outstanding students' personal development, a problem which should be handled with caution.
1. collaboration = partnership = group effort = teamwork = cooperation = alliance
2. adjustment = change
3. inapplicable = unsuitable = impractical
4. overwhelm = overpower
5. disenchanted = dissatisfied = disappointed
6. spring from = arise from = originate from = develop from = derive from
7. with caution = with care = prudently = sensibly
Topic 83: 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.
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 endeavour 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 maths 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 specialised 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 oilier 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.
1. privileged = honoured = advantaged
2. exceptional = extraordinary = outstanding = incomparable
3. elite = best = most talented
4. prodigy = genius = phenomenon
5. briskly = rapidly = quickly
6. jealousy = envy = resentment
7. exclusion = isolation = segregation = elimination
8. outline = summarise = delineate
9. pal = peer
Topic 84: 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?
People harbour different perceptions of tertiary education. Although higher education is recognised 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 all 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 polarised 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.
There are some other factors, such as opportunities, that play a contributing role in one's success, but for 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.
1. efficacy = effectiveness = usefulness
2. grasp = understanding = comprehension
3. rule of thumb = a rule based on experience
4. hands-on = practical
5. foretell = predict = forecast = harbinger
6. polarise = separate
7. resilience = flexibility = elasticity
8. self-motivated = energetic
9. self-directed = autonomous = independent
10. for simplicity's sake
11. assertion = declaration = contention = claim = statement
Topic 85: 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 fulfil both these functions?
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, organise, 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 utilising 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 then 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 extracurricular 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 specialised 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.
1. pathway = path-access = entrance
2. combat = address = tackle = prevent = fight against
3. configuration = composition = formation = make-up
4. similarly = likewise
5. resourceful = ingenious = smart
6. transition = change = changeover
7. in good form = performing well
8. versatile = multitalented = all-round
Topic 86: 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 recognising 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 organising 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 dextrously.
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.
1. underline = underscore = emphasise = highlight
2. contender = aspirant = applicant = candidate
3. bridge = link = connect = join
4. trade = craft = line of work = occupation = profession
5. assume responsibility = take responsibility
6. consolidate = strengthen = secure
7. assessment = examination = appraisal
8. dextrously = skilfully = adroitly = proficiently = adeptly
9. distance = dissociate = detach = separate
10. workforce = worker = employee = personnel = labour force
Topic 87: 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 only teach students about academic subjects. Discuss both views and give your opinion.
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 analysing 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 behaviours, 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 misbehaviours, 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.
Ethnic education can also help 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 impact such knowledge to them. Young people are hence will 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 judgement, moral principles and wisdom to students, all contributing to students’ individual life fulfilment and well-being.
1. refute = disprove = contest
2. morality = disprove = contest
3. in plain words = in simple terms
4. accusable = detestable
5. delinquent = criminal = wrongdoer = law-breaker
6. reoccurrence = occurring again
7. unaware of = ignorant of = uninformed about
8. unethical = immortal = dishonourable
9. ideal = principal = standard = belief = moral value
10. instinctively = intuitively = impulsively
11. pass on = impart = convey
Topic 88: Education used to be a short period of training, but today, people treat it like a lifelong practise. Do you agree or disagree?
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 pursue 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 lime, no career fields can stay static. Because of the acceleration of scientific and technological progress, re-education 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-in formed 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 fulfilment 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.
1. pursuit = hobby = interest
2. transcend = surpass = excel = exceed
3. static = stationary = inert = unchanging = constant = unvarying
4. span = extend = cross
5. sustain = maintain
Topic 89: Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad.
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, can 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
3. proficiency = fluency
4. self-sufficient = independent = autonomous = self-reliant
5. breakdown = collapse = depression
6. polyglot = multilingual individual
Topic 90: 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?
To most people, second language acquisition is a lengthy and exhausting process. A general approach taken by most learners is to learn vocabulary and memorise 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-emphasised. 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 recognise this would impede language learning. However, for new learners, acquiring a culture is less practical, for it requires great effort and produces little outcome.
1. exhausting = tiring = arduous = strenuous
2. literal = plain = unvarnished = basic = original
3. contention = assertion = argument = opinion = claim
4. syntax = sentence structure = language rules
5. as opposed to = rather than
6. mirror = reflect
7. disparity = difference = discrepancy
8. prerequisite = precondition
9. gesture = signal
10. convey = communicate = transmit = pass on
11. resentment = anger = hatred = antipathy
12. incomprehensible = perplexing = beyond understanding
13. intrusion = incursion
14. flounder = have difficulty = struggle
15. unmanageable = uncontrollable
16. impede = obstruct = hinder = hamper = hold back
Topic 91: 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.
History has long been recognised us 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 scepticism 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 analyse 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 judgements. Students are increasingly capable to analyse 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 = worthless = unimportant
2. scepticism = doubt
3. motivate = inspire = encourage = stimulate
4. misguide = mislead
5. dispassionate = unbiased = objective = impartial
6. coherent = consistent
7. sharpness = acuteness
8. transferable = conveyable-convertible
9. overstate = exaggerate = over-emphasise
10. curiosity = inquisitiveness = interest
11. unjustified = groundless
12. with certainty = certainly
Topic 92: Do you think middle school students should study International news as a subject?
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 globalisation and international developments. In today's world, businesses operate beyond borders and countries are closely connected with each other. Any country that fails to recognise this would miss out on the benefits of globalisation. 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 still 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 analysing international news, future generations will knowledge of the whole world and enrich a variety of skills.
1. vision = foresight = farsightedness = forethought
2. immensely = vastly = greatly = immeasurably
3. identical = the same = duplicated = alike
Topic 93: Opinions divide concerning what plays a more important role in people's personality development, nature or nurture. What is your opinion?
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 behavioural 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 crime. 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.
1. conclusive = definite = irrefutable = decisive
2. resolution = result = declaration
3. ascertain = find out = establish
4. nexus = elation = link
5. a foregone conclusion
6. affluent = wealthy = rich = high-income = high-class
7. raise = bring up = rear = nurture
8. embark on = initiate = attempt
9. fortify = strengthen = reinforce
10. resemble = bear a resemblance to = be similar to
11. striking = conspicuous = remarkable = noticeable
12. obscure = dim
13. solace = comfort = consolation
14. trait = attribute = characteristic = feature
Topic 94: 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 behaviours?
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 lawoffending 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, signalling the accumulative effect of the environment where they grow up. Children informative 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 fulfil 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.
1. liable = responsible = accountable
2. subject to = exposed to
3. in the absence of = lacking
4. accidental = unintentional = unplanned = inadvertent
5. intuitive = instinctive = spontaneous
6. signal = indicate
7. formative = impressionable
8. gatekeeper = guardian = protector = custodian
9. negate = counteract = reverse = wipe out
10. courtesy = politeness
11. discontented = dissatisfied = unhappy = displeased
12. for the most part = on the whole = principally
13. inescapable = inevitable
14. come of age = come to maturity = become an adult
Topic 95: 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?
The age-old nature vs 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 recognised, 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 judgement 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 recognise 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
2. predisposition = disposition = penchant
3. evident = obvious = apparent = manifest = marked = patent = plain
4. diagnose = detect = identify
5. heritable = inherited = hereditary
6. circumstance = environment = condition
7. worsen = multiply
8. unlawful = illegal = illegitimate = prohibited
9. label = regard = consider = brand
10. upbringing = rearing = education
Topic 96: 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?
In 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, organised 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 recognised 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.
1. detrimental = harmful = damaging = unfavourable
2. unmonitored = :unsupervised = uncontrolled
3. immersed in = absorbed in = engrossed by
4. rarely = hardly = seldom = once in a blue moon
5. conducive = favourable = helpful = advantageous = beneficial
6. hazard = risk = peril = danger
7. theme = main subject = main idea
8. escape = diversion = distraction = pastime
9. class = classify = categorise = group
Topic 97: In modern society, some people argue that schools become unnecessary as children can study at home via the Internet. Do you agree or disagree?
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 favourable. 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 specialised 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 tailing to provide a wide range of courses, both can be overcame as technology advances.
1. progression = development = evolution = advance
2. speculate on = consider = contemplate
3. take the place of = substitute = supplant
4. handicap = disability
5. merit = value = advantage
6. transferable = conveyable
7. sample = try = experiment
Topic 98: 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?
Computers have been favoured 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, standardised and therefore unsuited to the specific needs of a student. For example, it can only answer questions 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 recognised 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 on 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.
1. myriad = numerous = many = countless
2. limitation = constraint = restriction
3. uniform = identical = standardised = homogeneous
4. unsuited to-incompatible with
5. unusual = uncommon = atypical
6. non-standard = irregular
7. unaligned with = inconsistent with
8. elicit = obtain
9. uncritical = unsuspecting
10. attend to = look after = care for
11. underrate = underestimate
12. drill = practice = exercise
13. take the place of = replace
Topic 99: Although it is generally prohibited, corporal punishment persists in many families. Do you think corporal punishment is an acceptable way to regulate children's behaviours?
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 behavioural 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
3. clear-cut = clear = definite = straightforward
4. injury = harm
5. profound = overwhelming = intense = deep = great = extreme
Topic 100: 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.
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 point 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 minimise the risk of accidents and injuries. Some other rules, such as forbidding spitting, nose-picking and foul language, lead children to develop proper demeanour 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
2. adventuresome-adventurous: = daring = courageous = audacious
3. deliberation = careful consideration
4. demeanour = behaviour = manner = conduct
5. lift = revoke = rescind = cancel
6. restrain = hold back hold down control
7. underpin = buttress = underline = bolster = strengthen = fortify
8. misconception = mistaken belief = misunderstanding = fallacy
9. reflect on = mull over = meditate on = contemplate
10. dampen = reduce = diminish
11. mechanical = unthinking
12. stifle = suppress = restrain = repress
13. with age = as one grows up
14. phase out = abolish = forsake