Thursday, November 22, 2007

Many people believe that television programs are of no value for children. Do you agree? Why or why not?
Provide reasons and examples to support your response.

Televisual media has become a pervasive force in the lives of families around the world today. Yet, a central question remains regarding whether watching television is harmful or beneficial for children. An analysis of this question reveals that television programs present three major concerns in the case of children, including depictions of violence, the use of profane language, and the representation of poor moral role models.

Television programs that portray violence are a paramount concern for parents nowadays. Recent research has shown that children may commit acts of violence because they wish to emulate the behaviour that they see on television. This is especially true when violent acts are committed by well-known action “heroes.” In addition, television programs show cartoon figures, as well as actors, committing violent acts. Using comic situations to depict violent themes causes further problems with the way in which young people view violence.

Television programs that contain profane or disrespectful language also worry parents with young children. Because censorship laws have relaxed over the past few decades, it has become very common for television programs of each and every kind to show characters expressing impolite, rude, and insulting utterances to one another. Bearing resemblance to the case of portrayals of violence, children unfortunately often try to imitate these actions they watch on their television screens.

Finally, some parents are upset about the moral behaviour depicted on television. As they struggle to teach their children moral and ethical values, parents might despair about the lack of morals and ethics represented in some of the so-called role models on television. For instance, certain characters not only have no remorse for their immoral actions, but also frequently go unpunished by larger society.

Because of these factors, many parents believe that television programs send their youth the wrong kinds of messages. The emulation of this poor behaviour by their children is something they wish to avoid at all costs, and they have accordingly decided to ban television in their households for these reasons.

It has been more than 30 years since man first landed on the moon. Some people think that space research is a waste of money.

For over fifty years, a number of nations have been involved in the exploration of outer space. This research has been very costly, of course. Has this money been well-spent or wasted?

Some people believe that all or most space research should be eliminated because of its incredible expense, not only in terms of money, but also in terms of scientific and human resources. These people point out the fact that it cost billions of dollars to send astronauts to the moon, but all they brought back were some worthless rocks. These people say that the money and effort now being wasted in outer space could be spent for homeless people, improving the education system, saving the environment, and finding cures for diseases.

However, other people believe that space research has provided many benefits to mankind. They point out that hundreds of useful products, from personal computers to heart pacemakers to freeze-dried foods, are the direct or indirect results of space research. They say that weather and communication satellites, which are also products of space programs, have benefited people all over the globe. In addition to these practical benefits, supporters of the space program point to the scientific knowledge that has been acquired about the sun, the moon, the planets and even our own earth as a result of space research.

I agree with those people who support space research and want it to continue. Space research, as shown, has already brought many benefits to humanity. Perhaps it will bring even more benefits in the future, ones that we can not even imagine now. Moreover, just as individual people need challenges to make their lives more interesting, I believe the human race itself needs a challenge, and I think that the peaceful exploration of outer space provides just such a challenge.

It is generally acknowledged that families are now not as close as they used to be.
Give possible reasons and your recommendations.

There is much discussion nowadays as to whether or not the relation-ship between family members is as close as before. Diverse contributing factors can be identified. In the following, I would like to present my point of view.

Great changes have taken place in family life along with the development of society. One of them is that the once-extended family tends to become smaller and smaller. Many children have to leave their parents at an early age to study or work elsewhere. As time passes, children become emotionally estranged from their parents.

Compared with the past, social competition is becoming increasingly fierce. People are urged to concentrate their efforts upon work, so that they can achieve success, or at least a good standard of living. As a result, they can’t afford to spend their leisure hours with their families. The importance of bonds of kinship is gradually fading from their minds.

In addition, the availability of various kinds of recreational facilities also diverts people from enjoying chats with the members of their families. Their free time is mostly occupied by watching TV, surfing the Internet or playing video games. They come to lose interest in communicating with the other members of their families.

In view of such alienation within families, urgent steps must be taken, in my opinion. For members of families who live away from one another, regular contact on the phone can bring them the care that they need. Family reunions on holidays or other important occasions can make a difference as well. For those living together, it is a good idea to take some time off work or recreation periods to spend more time with each other. In the final analysis, a close family relationship can surely be maintained as long as we realize the significant role it plays in our lives and attach importance to it.

Television has had a significant influence on the culture of many societies. To what extent would you say that television has positively or negatively affected the cultural development of your society?

It has been around forty years since television was first introduced into Australian households and people today still have mixed views on whether it has a positive or a negative influence on the society.

Many people believe that television damages culture. It promotes the stronger cultures of countries such as Britain and North America and weakens the cultures of less wealthy countries. This is because the stronger, wealthier countries are able to assert their own culture by producing more programs that are shown widely around the world. These programs then influence people, particularly young people, in the countries where they are shown.

Also, because television networks need to attract large audiences to secure their financial survival, they must produce programs which are interesting to a broad range of people. In Australia this range is very broad because we are a multicultural society and people of all ages like to watch television. To interest all these different people, most television programs are short in length, full of action and excitement, do not require much intelligence or knowledge to understand, and follow universal themes common to all cultures, such as love and crime. Television programs which concentrate on or develop themes pertinent to one particular culture are not so successful because they interest a smaller audience.

Nevertheless we much acknowledge that television does have some positive effects on the cultures within a society as well. People who do not live within their own culture can, in a limited way, access it through the multicultural station on the television. For example, Aboriginal children who have grown up in white families, or migrants and international students living in Australia, can watch programs from their own culture on the television.

In conclusion, I hold the view that television promotes and strengthens those cultures that are wealthy and influential while it weakens the cultures that are already in a weakened position.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Some people think that it is important to use leisure time for activities that improve the mind, such as reading and doing word puzzles. Other people feel that it is important to rest the mind during leisure time.
What is your opinion?

It is generally accepted that we all need leisure time to recover from the stresses of work and everyday life. Personally, I prefer to be active during this time, as I think this suits me better. However, what we do with our leisure time is up to us and no one can say that any particular activity is the best.

Some people relax by watching movies, reading or surfing the internet. People who have physically demanding jobs may choose these types of activities. If you are a nurse or builder, you may feel that you don't want to do a five-kilometre run after work, because you are already physically tired.

Other people do very sedentary jobs. Computer analysts, for example, may spend all day sitting in front of a computer screen. At the end of the working day, they may be keen to stretch their limbs and improve their health by swimming or going to the gym.

Another factor that influences our choice of leisure pursuit is where we work. People who work indoors often prefer outdoor hobbies, whereas for people who work outdoors, the reverse may be true. I am a student myself and this involves a lot of sitting in lectures, so I need to get out into the fresh air afterwards.

In any situation, the important thing is that people need to stay healthy by choosing what is best for them. The only wrong way to spend free time, in my view, is to have a sedentary job and then go home and watch television.

"Parents are the best teachers." Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Parents shape their children from the beginning of their children's lives. They teach their children values. They share their interests with them. They develop close emotional ties with them. Parents can be very important teachers in their children's lives; however, they are not always the best teachers.

Parents may be too close to their children emotionally. For example, they may limit a child's freedom in the name of safety. A teacher may organize an educational trip to a big city, but a parent may think this trip is too dangerous. A school may want to take the children camping, but a parent may be afraid of the child getting hurt.

Another problem is that parents sometimes expect their children's interests to be similar to their own. If the parents love science, they may try to force their child to love science too. But what if the child prefers art? If the parents enjoy sports, they may expect their child to participate on different teams. But what if the child prefers to read?

Parents want to pass on their values to their children. However, things change. The children of today are growing up in a world different from their parents' world. Sometimes parents, especially older ones, can't keep up with rapid social or technological changes. A student who has friends of different races at school may find that his parents have narrower views. A student who loves computers may find that her parents don't understand or value the digital revolution.

Parents are important teachers in our lives, but they aren't always the best teachers. Fortunately, we have many teachers in our lives. Our parents teach us, our teachers teach us, and we learn from our peers. Books and newspapers also teach us. All of them are valuable.

We are becoming increasingly dependent on computers. They are used in businesses, hospitals, crime detection and even to fly planes. What things will they be used for in the future? Is this dependence on computers a good thing or should we be more suspicious of their benefits?

Computers are a relatively new invention. The first computers were built fifty years ago and it is only in the last thirty or so years that their influence has affected our everyday life. Personal computers were introduced as recently as the early eighties. In this short time they have made a tremendous impact on our lives. We are now so dependent on computers that it is hard to imagine what things would be like today without them. You have only got to go into a bank when their main computer is broken to appreciate the chaos that would occur if computers were suddenly removed world-wide.

In the future computers will be used to create bigger and even more sophisticated computers. The prospects for this are quite alarming. They will be so complex that no individual could hope to understand how they work. They will bring a lot of benefits but they will also increase the potential for unimaginable chaos. They will, for example, be able to fly planes and they will be able to co ordinate the movements of several planes in the vicinity of an airport. Providing all the computers are working correctly nothing can go wrong. If one small program fails disaster.

There is a certain inevitability that technology will progress and become increasingly complex. We should, however, ensure that we are still in a position where we are able to control technology. It will be all too easy to suddenly discover that technology is controlling us. By then it might be too late I believe that it is very important to be suspicious of the benefits that computers will bring and to make sure that we never become totally dependent on a completely technological world.

Smokers can cause themselves serious health problems. The choice to smoke is made freely and with knowledge of dangers. Smokers should therefore expect to pay more for medical treatment than non-smokers.
To what extent do you agree with this statement?

Everyone has the choice of being a smoker or not. The people who choose to smoke do so knowing there is a risk of causing harmful damage to themselves. However, I do not entirely agree that these people should have to pay more to receive all the medical treatment they need.

I think there are many situations in which a medical problem has nothing to do with whether a person smokes or not. In these cases, where an illness has no relation to smoking, then I believe that smokers should not be required to pay more than other people for their medical treatment. Most car accidents, for example, have no connection with smoking, and the people who are injured ought to have the same medical help, regardless of the cost. And what about the common flu - it does not seem justifiable to me that a smoker should have to pay more to see a doctor for an illness we can all contract.

On the other hand, I agree that a smoker should pay more than a non-smoker for the necessary treatment of any condition which has been caused by smoking. The principle that people should take responsibility for their own actions is a good one. Consequently, if a person chooses to smoke knowing that this habit can cause serious health problems, then there is no reason why the community or an insurance company should have to pay for medical treatment for an illness which could have been avoided.

In many countries, cigarette packets have a clear warning that smoking can cause health problems and so no smoker can claim not to know the danger. Lung cancer is sometimes a fatal disease and the treatment is both lengthy and expensive, and it is unfair for the smoker to expect the hospital or the community to carry the cost. In fact, it could also be argued that those who smoke in public should be asked to pay extra because of the illness caused to passive smokers.

In conclusion, I feel that smokers should pay more in cases related to smoking, but for any other illness they should pay the same as anyone else.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Nowadays food has become easier to prepare. Has this change improved the way people live?

Food is a basic part of life, so it follows that improved methods of food preparation have made our lives better. Nowadays we can prepare meals much faster than we could in the past. We can also enjoy a greater variety of food and eat more healthfully, all because of modern methods of food preparation.

Microwave ovens have made it possible to prepare delicious food quickly. People these days rarely have time to shop and prepare meals the old-fashioned way. We live very fast lives. We are busy working, caring for our families travelling, playing sports, and many other things. Because of microwave ovens, we have time to enjoy a good meal with our family and then play soccer, go to a movie, study, or do anything else we want to afterwards.

Modern methods of preserving food have made it possible to enjoy a wide variety of food. Because of refrigerators, freezers, canning, and freeze-drying, we can eat fruits and vegetables that come from far away places. We can prepare a meal one day and save the leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer to eat at another time. We can keep different kinds of food in the refrigerator. It is easy to always have food available and to be able to eat completely different meals every day.

Healthful eating is easier now than it ever was. Because of modern transportation methods, fresh fruits and vegetables are available all year round. Modern kitchen appliances make it easy to prepare fruits and vegetables fro cooking. Bread machines make it possible to enjoy healthful, home-baked bread whenever we like. We can eat fresh and healthful food everyday because modern methods have made preparation easy.

Our lifestyle is fast, but people still like good food. New food preparation methods have given us more choices. Today we can prepare food that is more convenient, healthier, and of greater variety than ever before.

It has been said, "Not everything that is learned is contained in books."
Compare and contrast knowledge gained from experience with knowledge gained from books. In your opinion, which source is more important? Why?

"Experience is the best teacher" is an old cliché, but I agree with it. We can learn a lot of important things from books, but the most important lessons in life come from our own experiences. Throughout the different stages of life, from primary school to university to adulthood, experience teaches us many skills we need for life.

As children in primary school, we learn facts and information from books, but that is not all we learn in school. On the playground we learn how to make friends. In our class work, we learn how it feels to succeed and what we do when we fail. We start to learn about the things we like to do and the things we don't. We don't learn these things from books, but from our experiences with our friends and classmates.

In our university classes, we learn a lot of information and skills we will need for our future careers, but we also learn a lot that is not in our textbooks. In our daily lives both in class and out of class, we learn to make decisions for ourselves. We learn to take on responsibilities. We learn to get along with our classmates, our roommates, and our workmates. Our successes and failures help us develop skills we will need in our adult lives. They are skills that no book can teach us.

Throughout our adulthood, experience remains a constant teacher. We may continue to read or take classes for professional development. However, our experiences at work, at home, and with our friends teach us more. The triumphs and disasters of our lives teach us how to improve our careers and also how to improve our relationships and how to be the person each one of us wants to be.

Books teach us a lot, but there is a limit to what they teach. They can give us information or show us another person's experiences. These are valuable things, but the lessons we learn from our own experiences, from childhood through adulthood, are the most important ones we learn.

As computers are being used more and more in education, there will soon be no role for teachers in the classroom.
Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

There have been immense advances in technology in most aspects of people's lives, especially in the field of education. Nowadays, an increasing number of students rely on computers to research for information and to produce a perfect paper for school purposes. Others have decided to leave the original way of learning to get knowledge through online schools. These changes in the learning process have brought a special concern regarding the possible decrease of importance of teachers in the classroom.

Some people believe the role of teachers started to fade because computers have been helping some students to progress in their studies quicker than when compared with an original classroom. For example, in the same classroom, students have different intellectual capacities, thus some would be tied to a slow advance in their studies because of others’ incapacity of understanding. In this way, pupils could progress in their acquisition of knowledge at their own pace using computers instead of learning from teachers.

However, the presence of a teacher is essential for students because the human contact influences them in positive ways. Firstly, students realize that they are not dealing with a machine but with a human being who deserves attention and respect. They also learn the importance of studying in group and respect other students, which helps them to improve their social skills.

Moreover, teachers are required in the learning process because they acknowledge some student's deficiencies and help them to solve their problems by repeating the same explanation, giving extra exercises or even suggesting a private tutor. Hence, students have a bigger chance of passing even the most difficult subjects.

In conclusion, the role for teachers in the learning process is still very important and it will continue to be in the future because no machine can replace the benefits of human interaction.

Popular events like the football World Cup and other international sporting occasions are essential in easing international tensions and releasing patriotic emotions in a safe way.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? Give reasons for your answer.

Every four years, the whole world stops to watch international sporting events such as the Olympics and the Football World Cup in which athletes show their best performance to make their country proud of them. These sporting occasions have proved to be helpful in easing international tensions in difficult times when powerful leaders were trying to control the world's economy and other governments were fighting over land.

The Olympic Games are one of the best examples which prove how sporting events can bring nations together, at least temporarily. From ancient History, when Greeks and Romans would interrupt battles to participate in the games, to the more recent international disputes, when athletes from Palestine and Israel would forget their differences, compete pacifically and even embrace each other after an event. Moreover, these popular events have called the world's attention to the terrible consequences of wars; thus some leaders have tried to accept agreements to end their dispute and live peacefully.

Similarly, international sporting events show benefits in some developing countries which live in a daily internal civil war. For example, Brazil has a high rate of unemployment, lack of education, hunger, crime, poverty and corruption which leads to an immense embarrassment of being Brazilian and a low self-esteem. However, when the Football World Cup starts, the Brazilian squad, which is considered the best team in the world, provokes an amazing feeling of pride in their country. Most people seem to forget all their problems and even the criminal activity decreases. They paint roads with the national colours, use wear the Brazilian team shirt and buy national flags. Moreover, the competition brings families and neighbours together and even rival gangs watch the games and celebrate peacefully.

In conclusion, I believe that popular sporting events play an important role in decreasing international tensions and liberating patriotic feelings.

Many people believe that women make better parents than men and that this is why they have the greater role in raising children in most societies. Others claim that men are just as good as women at parenting.

The view that women are better parents than men has shown itself to be true throughout history. This is not to say that men are not of importance in child- rearing indeed, they are most necessary if children are to appreciate fully the roles of both sexes. But women have proven themselves superior parents as a result of their conditioning, their less aggressive natures and their generally better communication skills.

From the time they are little girls, females learn about nurturing. First with dolls and later perhaps with younger brothers and sisters, girls are given the role of carer. Girls see their mothers in the same roles and so it is natural that they identify this as a female activity. Boys, in contrast, learn competitive roles far removed from what it means to nurture. While boys may dream of adventures, girls' conditioning means they tend to see the future in terms of raising families.

Girls also appear to be less aggressive than boys. In adulthood, it is men, not women, who prove to be the aggressors in crime and in war. Obviously, in raising children, a more patient, gentle manner is preferable to a more aggressive one. Although there certainly exist gentle men and aggressive women, by and large, females are less likely to resort to violence in attempting to solve problems.

Finally, women tend to be better communicators than men. This is shown is intelligence tests, where females, on average, do better in verbal communication than males. Of course, communication is of utmost importance in rearing children, as children tend to learn from and adopt the communication styles of their parents.

Thus, while it is all very well to suggest a greater role for men in raising children, let us not forget that women are generally better suited to the parenting role.

Going overseas for university study is an exciting prospect for many people. But while it may offer some advantages, it is probably better to stay home because of the difficulties a student inevitably encounters living and studying in a different culture.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? Give reasons for your answer.

There is no doubt that going to study in a foreign country, with a different language and culture, can be a frustrating and sometimes painful experience. But while overseas study has its drawbacks, the difficulties are far outweighed by the advantages. Indeed, people who go abroad for study open themselves up to experiences that those who stay at home will never have.

The most obvious advantage to overseas university study is real-life use of a different language. While a person can study a foreign language in his or her own country, it cannot compare with constant use of the language in academic and everyday life. There is no better opportunity to improve second-language skills than living in the country in which it is spoken. Moreover, having used the language during one's studies offers a distinct advantage when one is applying for jobs back home that require the language.

On a university campus, the foreign student is not alone in having come from far away. He or she will likely encounter many others from overseas and it is possible to make friends from all around the world. This is not only exciting on a social level, but could lead to important overseas contacts in later professional life.

Finally, living and studying abroad offers one a new and different perspective of the world and, perhaps most important, of one's own country. Once beyond the initial shock of being in a new culture, the student slowly begins to get a meaningful understanding of the host society. On returning home, one inevitably sees one's own country in a new, often more appreciative, light.

In conclusion, while any anxiety about going overseas for university study is certainly understandable, it is important to remember that the benefits offered by the experience make it well worthwhile.

The mass media, including television, radio and newspapers, have great influence in shaping people's ideas.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? Give reasons for your answer.

The mass media have a powerful influence in shaping our lives. We have come to depend on them for information and entertainment, and in doing so we let them affect important aspects of our lives.

The undeniable usefulness of the media in almost instantly providing information about events around the world is largely taken for granted. But in our dependence on the media we have allowed them to mould our notions and opinions of events, places and people. Though few of us probably think about it, our conceptions of, say, our elected officials spring from television images and newspaper stories. Most of us will never meet prime ministers or presidents, but anyone who is regularly exposed to the media will have an opinion of them. When it is time to cast our vote, we will make our decision based on how the media portray the candidates. We are similarly swayed by coverage of wars. The media, representing the values of their owners, societies and governments, tend to report wars with a bias; which is the 'good' side and which the 'bad' is determined for us by reporters, editors and commentators, and sure enough the public begins to form opinions that reflect the coverage they see, hear and read in the major media.

The media are also influential in the way they facilitate the spread of culture and lifestyle. The so-called 'global youth culture', in which one finds young people around the world displaying a common interest in music, clothing styles and films, is an example of the media's enormous sway in this regard. A popular figure such as Michael Jackson would never be so well known were it not for the media's extensive reach into every society on the globe.

Thus I would argue that the mass media's influence is certainly great. Indeed, with technological advancements such as the Internet bringing even more forms of electronic media to our homes and workplaces, it is likely the media's influence will grow even stronger.

The rising levels of congestion and air pollution found in most of the world's cities can be attributed directly to the rapidly increasing number of private cars in use. In order to reverse this decline in the quality of life in cities, attempts must be made to encourage people to use their cars less and public transport more.
Discuss possible ways to encourage the use of public transport.

Anyone who lives in a city is aware of the increasing number of cars on the road and the kinds of problems this creates: traffic jams, air pollution and longer commuting periods. As economies grow and access to cars spreads to increasing numbers of people, this trend is likely to worsen. The solution, it would seem, is for governrnment to encourage the use of public transport in urban areas, thus decreasing dependence on the car.

One way to stimulate public transport use is to make private car use more expensive and inconvenient. The introduction of tolls along urban motorways has been successfully employed in many cities. Other such measures are high-priced permits for parking in urban areas and the restriction of parking to a limited number of cars. Faced with high costs or no place to park, commuters would perhaps be more willing to abandon their cars in favour of buses or trains.

There are also less punishing ways of spurring public transport use. The construction of free carparks at suburban train stations has proven successful in quite a number of countries. This allows commuters to drive part of the way, but take public transport into the central, most congested, urban areas.

Indeed, making public transport more comfortable and convenient should work to attract more commuters and decrease traffic congestion. Public transport that is convenient and comfortable retains its passengers, much like any business that satisfies its customers. The more commuters committed to taking public transport, the less congestion on city streets.

'Telecommuting' refers to workers doing their jobs from home for part of each week and communicating with their office using computer technology. Telecommuting is growing in many countries and is expected to be common for most office workers in the coming decades.
How do you think society will be affected by the growth of telecommuting?

The spread of telecommuting is sure to have far-reaching effects on society. By itself, telecommuting refers to office workers spending much of their time working from home and using electronic technologies to communicate with their employers. The broader implications of telecommuting, however, may involve changes to corporate structure, workers' lifestyles and even urban planning.

The most obvious changes may be apparent in the `normal' offices of companies, governments and other organisations. If even half the working week is spent telecommuting from home, then we would initially expect many empty desks in the office. As offices grow smaller, workers coming in for the day would be expected to share desks with their absent colleagues. This, in turn, may affect the social atmosphere of an organisation, however, as less social contact with one's colleagues could harm morale and loyalty.

For the individual office worker, telecommuting would mean spending more time at home. For a parent with young children, this may be a blessing. Moreover, many telecommuters would be able to work the hours they wished: having a nap in the afternoon, for example, but working some hours in the evening. One substantial benefit for all telecommuting workers is that there will be no need to travel to work, allowing more free time.

The structure of urban life is also likely to be affected by telecommuting. We would expect to see fewer cars on the road during peak hours and, eventually, a smaller concentration of offices in cities' central business districts. In short, people will have less reason to travel to city centres from outlying areas. As more people work and live in the same location, shops and cultural events will likely relocate themselves out of the city centre.

In summary, telecommuting will serve not only to change the way we work but also the way we live.

In some countries the average worker is obliged to retire at the age of 50, while in others people can work until they are 65 or 70. Meanwhile, we see some politicians enjoying power well into their eighties. Clearly, there is little agreement on an appropriate retirement age.

Until what age do you think people should be encouraged to remain in paid employment? Give reasons for your answer.

Mandatory retirement age varies from society to society, perhaps a reflection of economics, population pressures or simply value systems. Indeed, retirement at 50 can probably be as easily justified as that at 70. It is my belief, however, that the longer an able person is allowed to work, the better for both the individual worker and the employer.

Chronological age is not always a true indicator of ability. While some 65 year olds may not perform as well as they did in their past, many workers at this age do just as well or better than they used to. People's suitability for a position should be a reflection of their performance in the job, rather than the number of wrinkles or grey hairs they have. Employers concerned about the increasing age of their employees need only observe their work records. Those doing poorly may be asked to retire, but those as yet unaffected by age should stay on. Indeed, it would appear economical for an organisation to retain its older employees when possible rather than spend time and money on training new workers.

Remaining in one's job for as long as one is able makes sense as life expectancies increase around the world. As people live longer, they are longer able to contribute to society in the form of meaningful work. But they are also in need of income for a longer period, so a mandatory retirement age of 55 for someone who is statistically likely to live to 77 becomes increasingly difficult to justify. At a time when populations are ageing, governments are less able to provide for their senior citizens, so by keeping able workers in paid employment for as long as is practicable, public expenditures are less strained.

Thus, workers who can still demonstrate their capacity to carry out their work should not be asked to retire simply because they have reached a certain age. Societies that insist on early retirement may do well to look again at their policies.

In the past, buildings often reflected the culture of a society but today all modern buildings look alike and cities throughout the world are becoming more and more similar.
What do you think is the reason for this, and is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Every city has its architectural character, but the similarities between cities are more obvious these days than in the past. In my opinion, one reason for this is the high price of land.

In most large cities, land is scarce and consequently it is very valuable. This has led to the construction of tall buildings which occupy only a small area of land while providing lots of floor space where people can live or work. Buildings of this type are made of concrete and steel and can be built comparatively quickly using prefabricated materials. They do not use local materials, such as stone, timber or brick, which used to give cities their individual character. In consequence many cities. now look very much the same and you might not know whether you were in Brisbane, Bangkok or Berlin when you are on the street.

While I realise that we cannot stand in the way of progress, I believe that cities should try to keep some individuality. For example, in Paris it is prohibited to build very tall buildings in the centre of the city, as this would spoil the overall appearance of the skyline. Other cities have chosen to design unique buildings to ensure they look different. The twin towers in Kuala Lumpur or the Opera House in Sydney are examples of this approach, and I agree with this kind of initiative.

All in all, although it is regrettable that modem cities look similar, I tend to feel that this is unavoidable. However, it can be argued that, even if the buildings are similar, cities will maintain their own character as a result of cultural diversity, the terrain and the climate, which ultimately determine how people live.

"Although abuse of the system are inevitable, social welfare payments are essential to protect the rights citizens have to a guaranteed minimum income in a democratic society"

Social welfare is an essential element of an advanced society. Good systems are always abused, but that does not mean they are faulty. In my opinion, the two main reasons why welfare payments are necessary are as follows:

First of all, critics forget that there are many forms of welfare besides payments to the unemployed. Their negative opinions harm those who are not capable of earning a wage, such as single-parent mothers, the disabled, and the sick. Moreover, the unemployed have the right to an income, too. They are not always at fault for not having a job, and in most cases the tax they have paid in the past entitles them to assistance.

The second reason is that crime increases when people have no means of support. The desperately poor inevitably turn to crime, which is not only dangerous but costly. Policing the streets is more expensive than providing welfare. A policeman's wage is four or five times higher than a "dole" payment.

Certain members of society believe that people should look after themselves. They point out that welfare increases dependency on others and destroys dignity. This may be true, but in the case of the unemployed, the relief payments are usually temporary. It is surely the fault of the government if there are long-term unemployed. Welfare critics also believe that it is the responsibility of a victim's family to provide financial assistance. However, it is too expensive to provide complete help for a severely disabled person.

To conclude, it is vital to understand the need for welfare in a modern democratic society. Without welfare payments the poor are destined to become poorer. The first duty of a government is to provide a financial safety net for all disadvantaged persons, and that includes those without work.

Disruptive school students have a negative influence on others. Students who are noisy and disobedient should be grouped together and taught separately.

Do you agree or disagree? Give reasons for your answer.

There is no doubt that some students in schools behave badly and their behaviour causes difficulty for others either because it has a negative effect on the group or because ordinary students find it difficult to study with them.

One solution is to take these students away and teach them on their own. However, if we simply have them removed after one or two warnings, we are limiting their educational opportunities because it seems to me that a school which caters for difficult students is a sort of "prison" whatever name you give it and the people who go there may never recover from the experience. This can then cause problems for the wider society.

Perhaps we need to look at why the disruptive students behave badly before we separate them. Disruptive students may be very intelligent and find the classes boring because the work is too easy. Perhaps these students need extra lessons rather than separate lessons. Or perhaps the teachers are uninspiring and this results in behavioural problems so we need better teachers. On the other hand, most students put up with this situation rather than cause trouble, and some people argue that we have to learn to suffer bad teachers and boring situations and that students who can't learn this lesson need to be taught separately.

So before we condemn the students to a special school, we should look at factors such as the teaching, because once the children have been separated, it is very unlikely that they will be brought back.

Some people believe that children’s leisure activities must be educational, otherwise they are a complete waste of time.
Do you agree or disagree?

Today, education has become a priority for many parents seeking to secure a good future for their children in this rapidly changing world. They believe that if their children apply themselves and work hard at school, then they will increase their opportunities for going to higher education and eventually getting a good job. Of course they are right, and as access to the best education and best jobs is becoming more competitive, then it is true that children have to make the best of their study time when they are young.

However, the parents who do not allow their children sufficient free time for leisure activities outside school hours, are misguided. Such activities are far from being a waste of time for the children simply because they are not academic. It is important to remember that children need to develop skills other than intellectual ones, and the best way to do this is through activities such as sports, games and playing with other kids. If they cannot play make-believe games, how can they develop their imagination? How can they learn physical co-ordination or learn important social lessons about winning and losing if they do not practise any sports? Many children form strong, personal relationships with the friends they play with, and without the opportunity to do this, they could grow up emotionally immature or unformed.

Finally, I think it is also important to remember that children need to relax as well as work. If everything they do must have some educational or academic relevance, then they will soon get tired of studying altogether, which is the last thing parents would want.

In many countries children are engaged in some kind of paid work. Some people regard this as completely wrong, while others consider it as valuable work experience, important for learning and taking responsibility.
What are your opinions on this?

The issue of children doing paid work is a complex and sensitive one. It is difficult to say who has the right to judge whether children working is ‘wrong’ or ‘valuable’. Opinions will also differ as to ‘learning’ benefits: no doubt teachers and factory owners, for example, would have varying concerns.

An important consideration is the kind of work undertaken. Young children doing arduous and repetitive tasks on a factory production line, for example, are less likely to be ‘learning’ than older children helping in an old people’s home. There are health and safety issues to be considered as well. It is an unfortunate fact that many employers may prefer to use the services of children simply to save money by paying them less than adults and it is this type of exploitation that should be discouraged.

However, in many countries children work because their families need the additional income, no matter how small. This was certainly the case in the past in many industrialized countries, and it is very difficult to judge that it is wrong for children today to contribute to the family income in this way.

Nevertheless, in better economic circumstances, few parents would choose to send their children out to full-time paid work. If learning responsibilities and work experience are considered to be important, then children can acquire these by having light, part-time jobs or even doing tasks such as helping their parents around the family home, which are unpaid, but undoubtedly of value in children’s development.

When a country develops its technology, the traditional skills and ways of life die out. It is pointless to try and keep them alive.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

Overall, I disagree with the opinion expressed, I would like to begin by pointing out that ‘traditional skills and ways of life’ are not automatically of one country, but of a culture or community.

In many ways, the history of civilisation is the history of technology: from the discovery of fire to the invention of the wheel to the development of the Internet we have been moving on from previous ways of doing things. Some technologies, such as weapons of mass destruction, are of negative impact. Others, such as medical advances, positively help people to live better or longer, and so very much help traditional ways of life. Surely, few people would seek to preserve such traditions as living in caves.

Interestingly, technology can positively contribute to the keeping alive of traditional skills and ways of life. For example, the populations of some islands are too small to have normal schools. Rather than breaking up families by sending children to the mainland, education authorities have been able to use the Internet to deliver schooling online. In addition, the Internet, and modern refrigeration techniques, are being used to keep alive the traditional skills of producing salmon; it can now be ordered from, and delivered to, anywhere in the world.

In conclusion, without suggesting that all technology is necessarily good, I think it is by no means ‘pointless’, in any way, to try to keep traditions alive with technology. We should not ignore technology, because it can be our friend and support our way of life.

Some governments say how many children a family can have in their country. They may control the number of children someone has through taxes. It is sometimes necessary and right for a government to control the population in this way.
Do you agree or disagree?

It is certainly very understandable that some governments should start looking at ways of limiting their populations to a sustainable figure. In the past, populations were partly regulated by frequent war and widespread disease, but in recent years the effects of those factors have been diminished. Countries can be faced with a population that is growing much faster than the nation's food resources or employment opportunities and whose members can be condemned to poverty by the need to feed extra mouths. They identify population control as a means of raising living standards.

But how should it be achieved? Clearly, this whole area is a very delicate personal and cultural issue. Many people feel that this is not a matter for the state. They feel this is one area of life where they have the right to make decisions for themselves. For that reason, it would seem that the best approach would be to work by persuasion rather than compulsion. This could be done by a process of education that points out the way a smaller family can mean an improved quality of life for the family members, as well as less strain on the country's perhaps very limited, resources.

This is the preferred way. Of course if this does not succeed within a reasonable time scale, it may be necessary to consider other measures, such as tax incentives or child-benefit payments for small families only. These are midway between persuasion and compulsion

So, yes, it is sometimes necessary, but governments should try very hard to persuade first. They should also remember that this is a very delicate area indeed, and that social engineering can create as many problems as it solves?

The position of women in society has changed markedly in the last twenty years. Many of the problems young people now experience, such as juvenile delinquency, arise from the fact that many married women now work and are not at home to care for their children.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

It is certainly true that the position of women in society has undergone a dramatic change in the past twenty years but I do not feel that this is a direct cause of the indisputable increase in juvenile-related problems during this period.

It is now accepted that young women should find work on leaving school; indeed to rely totally on their parents' financial support is no longer an option in many families. Likewise, once they get married, the majority of women continue working since the financial pressures of setting up a house and establishing a reasonable standard of living often require two incomes.

Twenty years ago it was common for women to give up work once they had children and devote their time to caring for their children. This is no longer the general rule and the provision of professionally-run child care facilities and day nurseries have removed much of the responsibility for child rearing that used to fall to mothers. However, these facilities come at a cost and often require two salaries coming into a family to be afforded.

I do not believe that the increase in the number of working mothers has resulted in children being brought up less well than previously. Indeed it could be argued that by giving mothers the opportunity to work and earn extra money children can be better provided for than previously. There is more money for luxuries and holidays and a more secure family life is possible. Of course there are limits as to the amount of time that ideally should be spent away from home and the ideal scenario would be for one of the parents (often the wife) to have a part-time job and thus be available for their children before and after school. It is important to establish the correct balance between family life and working life.

"Prevention is better than cure."
Out of a country's health budget, a large proportion should be diverted from treatment to spending on health education and preventative measures.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Of course it goes without saying that prevention is better than cure. That is why, in recent years, there has been a growing body of opinion in favour of putting more resources into health education and preventive measures. The argument is that ignorance of, for example, basic hygiene or the dangers of an unhealthy diet or lifestyle needs to be combatted by special nationwide publicity campaigns, as well as longer-term health education.

Obviously,there is a strong human argument for catching any medical condition as early as possible. There is also an economic argument for doing so. Statistics demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of treating a condition in the early stages, rather than delaying until more expensive and prolonged treatment is necessary. Then there are social or economic costs, perhaps in terms of loss of earnings for the family concerned or unemployed benefit paid by the state.

So far so good, but the difficulties start when we try to define what the 'proportion' of the budget "should be, particularly if the funds will be 'diverted from treatment'. Decisions on exactly how much of the total health budget should be spent in this way are not a matter for the non-specialist, but should be made on the basis of an accepted health service model.

This is the point at which real problems occur - the formulation of the model. How do we accurately measure which health education campaigns are effective in both medical and financial terms? How do we agree about the medical efficacy of various screening programmes, for example, when the medical establishment itself does not agree? A very rigorous process of evaluation is called for, so that we can make informed decisions.

"Fatherhood ought to be emphasised as much as motherhood. The idea that women are solely responsible for deciding whether or not to have babies leads on to the idea that they are also responsible for bringing the children up."
To what extent do you agree or disagree?

I believe that child-rearing should be the responsibility of both parents and that, whilst the roles within that partnership may be different, they are nevertheless equal in importance. In some societies, it has been made easier over the years for single parents to raise children on their own. However, this does not mean that the traditional family, with both parents providing emotional support and role-models for their children, is not the most satisfactory way of bringing up children.

Of crucial importance, in my opinion, is how we define 'responsible for bringing the children up'. At its simplest, it could mean giving the financial support necessary to provide a home, food and clothes and making sure the child is safe and receives an adequate education. This would be the basic definition.

There is, however, another possible way of defining that part of the quotation. That would say it is not just the fathers responsibility to provide the basics for his children, ; while his wife involves herself in the everyday activity of bringing them up. Rather, he should share those daily duties, spend as much time as his job allows with his children, play with them, read to them, help directly with their education, participate very fully in their lives and encourage them to share his.

It is this second, fuller, concept of 'fatherhood' that I am in favour of, although I also realise how difficult it is to achieve sometimes. The economic and employment situation in many countries means that jobs are getting more, not less, stressful, requiring long hours and perhaps long journeys to work as well. Therefore it may remain for many a desirable ideal rather than an achievable reality.

In the last 20 years there have been significant developments in the field of information technology (IT), for example the World Wide Web and communication by email. However, future developments in IT are likely to have more negative effects than positive.

To what extent do you agree with this view?

The last two decades have seen enormous changes in the way people's lives are affected by IT. Twenty years ago few people had access to a computer whilst today most people use them at work, home or school and use of email and the Internet is an everyday event.

These developments have brought many benefits to our lives. Email makes communication (particularly overseas) much easier and more immediate. This has numerous benefits for business, commerce and education. The World Wide Web means that information on every conceivable subject is now available to us. Clearly, for many people this has made life much easier and more convenient.

However, not all the effects of the new technology has been beneficial. Many people feel that the widespread use of email is destroying traditional forms of communication such as letter writing, telephone and face to face communication. With ever increasing use of information technology these negative elements are likely to increase in the future.

The huge size of the Web means it is almost impossible to control and regulate. This has led to many concerns regarding children accessing unsuitable websites. Unfortunately, this kind of problem might even get worse in the future at least until more regulated systems are set up. Yet perhaps the biggest threat to IT in years to come will be the computer virus – more sophisticated or more destructive strains are almost inevitable.

In conclusion, developments in IT have brought many benefits, yet I believe developments relating to new technology in the future are likely to produce many negative effects that will need to be addressed very carefully.

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Some of the methods used in advertising are unethical and unacceptable in today's society.
To what extent do you agree with this view?

There is no doubt that advertising dominates the world we live in today. Adverts appear on television, on the World Wide Web, in the street and even on our mobile phones. However, many of the strategies used to sell a product or service can be considered immoral or unacceptable. Indeed, the fact that we cannot escape from advertising is a significant cause for complaint. Constant images and signs wherever we look can be very intrusive and irritating at times. Although we expect adverts in numerous situations, it now seems that there are very few paces we can actually avoid them.

A further aspect of advertising that I would consider unethical is the way it encourages people to buy products they may not need or cannot afford. Children and young people in particular, are influenced by adverts showing the latest toys, clothing or music and this can put enormous pressure on the parents to buy these products.

In addition, the advertising of tobacco products and alcohol has long been a controversial issue, but cigarette adverts have only recently been banned in many countries. It is quite possible that alcohol adverts encourage excessive consumption and underage drinking, yet restrictions have not been placed on this type of advertising in the same way as smoking. Many people consider this to be unacceptable and I tend to accept this view.

it is certainly true to say that advertising is an everyday feature of our lives. Therefore, people are constantly being encouraged to buy products or services that might be too expensive, unnecessary or even unhealthy. In conclusion, many aspects of advertising do appear to be morally wrong and are not acceptable in today's society.

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Many people judge success solely by money and material possessions. However, success can be achieved or measured in other ways.
What are your opinions on this topic?

If a person appears to be relatively wealthy, perhaps owning an expensive car, living in a nice house and generally enjoying a high standard of living then moist people would say this person is successful. This may indeed be true but there are certainly numerous other ways, in my view, in which success can be achieved or measured.

First of all, in terms of education, passing exams or completing a course can be considered successful activities. If A levels, a diploma or a degree are attained then this is recognized as a successful achievement, yet qualifications such as these do not necessarily lead to riches.

Another type of success can be achieved in work situations simply by doing one's own particular job effectively. Furthermore, job satisfaction and career fulfillment are also indications of success, yet do not necessarily mean being in in highly paid employment. For example, a voluntary worker for an aid agency in a developing country who has helped to construct buildings or improve facilities has been part of successful project.

I also believe that success can be achieved in domestic life such as raising and supporting a family. On a personal level it might also simply mean putting up shelves for the first time or winning a local sporting competition.

In conclusion, there no doubt that in today's society people often regard success purely in terms of wealth or materialistic values, but in my opinion this does not account for the variety of other ways that success can be achieved. Ultimately, measuring success might depend on an individual's personal goals.

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People in all modern societies use drugs, but today's youth are experimenting with both legal and illegal drugs, and at an increasingly early age. Some sociologists claim that parents and other members of society often set a bad example.
Discuss the causes and some effects of widespread drug use by young people in modern day society. Make any recommendations you feel are necessary to help fight youth drug abuse.

Youth drug abuse is a serious problem nowadays in many cultures. Not only is illegal drug use on the rise, but children as young as 10 years old are experimenting with alcohol and tobacco. The reasons for this behaviour are unclear, but certain sociologists blame the examples set by their elders.

Parents who drink and smoke to excess are, in effect, telling their children that it is acceptable to abuse their bodies with drugs. Consequently, children may have a similar view towards illegal drugs, even if their parents are against their use. In addition, drug use shown on television and in films can only confuse children who are also taught at school that drug abuse is wrong.

The pressure on young people to perform well at school in order to compete for jobs is a possible cause of the problem. Many believe they cannot live up to their parents' expectations, and feel a sense of hopelessness. Also, the widespread availability of drugs means teenagers are faced with the temptation to experiment. Drugs are used as a means of expressing dissatisfaction with the pressures they face in society.

The effects of drug abuse are well known. Many young people's talents are wasted, and addiction to hard drugs can cost a user his or her life. Furthermore, those who drink and drive may be involved in fatal road accidents. The cost to society is great, and enormous amounts of money are spent on convicting drug dealers and on education programmes.

To conclude, I recommend that the only sensible way to solve this problem is to educate young people about the dangers of drug use, and to take steps to reduce the pressure of competition placed upon them.

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We have been living in the nuclear age now for over half a century. Since the first atomic bombs were developed, nuclear technology has provided governments with the ability to totally destroy the planet. Yet the technology has been put to positive use as an energy source and in certain areas of medicine.

To what extent is nuclear technology a danger to life on Earth? What are the benefits and risks associated with its use?

These days, many people are afraid of nuclear technology because of the dangers associated with its use. In my opinion, although it is true that nuclear weapons pose the greatest threat to life, the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes also carries some serious risks.

Nuclear power stations provide an important source of cheap power for many industrialised nations and some developing countries. However, there is always the danger of radiation leaking from these plants. Even though safety precautions are taken, there have been numerous disasters such as the explosion of a nuclear plant in Russia not long ago.

Nuclear technology is even used to help cure some diseases such as cancer. Radiation can be applied to the body to burn away cancerous cells. This is, however, a dangerous procedure, and the application of radiation is almost always painful and not always successful.

The most worrying aspect of nuclear technology, though, is its use for military purposes. Enough atomic bombs have already been built to completely destroy the planet, and the real danger is that one day some country will start a war with these weapons. Too many countries now have the technology required to make such bombs, and there is currently much debate about how to control the situation.

In conclusion, nuclear technology certainly has positive uses, but is, nonetheless, dangerous. However, it would have been better if it had never been used to create nuclear weapons. If life on Earth is to continue, all the nuclear nations of the world should agree to disarm as soon as possible.

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The world is experiencing a dramatic increase in population. This is causing problems not only for poor, undeveloped countries, but also for industrialised and developing nations.
Describe some of the problems that overpopulation causes, and suggest at least one possible solution.

In most countries of the world the population is increasing alarmingly. This is especially true in poor, undeveloped countries. Overpopulation causes a considerable number of problems.

In poor countries it is difficult to provide enough food to feed even the present number of people. In addition, education to limit the number of children per family is not always successful. Poorer countries usually have a lot of unemployment too, and an increase in population simply makes the situation worse. The environment also suffers when there are too many people living on the land.

In rich, industrialised and developing countries it is very difficult for governments to provide effective public services in overcrowded cities. Moreover, there is usually a great deal more crime, which is often due to high rates of unemployment. Further large increases in population only cause more overcrowding, unemployment and crime.

There are two main solutions to the overpopulation problem. Firstly, every woman who is pregnant, but who does not want to give birth, should be allowed by law to have an abortion. Secondly, governments must educate people to limit the size of the family. In China, couples are penalised financially if they have more than one child. This may seem cruel, but the "one-child policy" is beginning to have an effect in the world's most populous nation. Eventually, similar policies might also be necessary in other crowded nations such as India, for example.

To sum up, if the population explosion continues, many more people will die of starvation in poor countries, and life in the cities, even in affluent nations, will become increasingly difficult.

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Studying the English language in an English-speaking country is the best but not the only way to learn the language.
Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Studying a language in a country where it is widely spoken has many advantages. It is, therefore, a good idea to study English in a country such as Britain. However, I believe it is not the only way to learn the language.

In the first place, most students in non-English-speaking countries learn English at secondary school, and sometimes at university nowadays. Although their spoken English is not usually of a very high standard, their knowledge of grammar is often quite advanced. This is certainly useful when students come to an English-speaking country to perfect the language.

Secondly, studying the basics of English at secondary school is less stressful than learning the language while overseas. This is because students living at home do not have to worry about problems such as finding accommodation, paying for their study and living costs, and trying to survive in a foreign country where day to day living causes much stress.

However, there are obvious advantages of learning English in Britain. Every day there are opportunities to practise listening to and speaking with British people. Also, students can experience the culture first-hand, which is a great help when trying to understand the language. This is especially true if they choose to live with a British family, as exchange students for example. Furthermore, if students attend a language school full-time, the teachers will be native speakers. In this case, not only will students' speaking and listening skills improve, but attention can be given to developing reading and writing skills as well.

In general, even though it is preferable to study English in an English-speaking country, a reasonable level of English can be achieved in one's own country, if a student is gifted and dedicated to study.

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Governments should put more effort to promote alternative sources of energy.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

It has been known for some time now that a move towards sources of energy which are not carbon-based is urgently required to stop the effects of global warming. In my view, there are too few governments who seem to be promoting the use of other types of energy such as wind, wave, solar and nuclear sources of energy.

Governments at present are too reliant on coal, oil and gas. Although some governments are doing research into the use of alternative energy sources, many are not. Energy from the wind, the sea and the sun does not pollute the environment and is an everlasting source of power. Nuclear power is clean, and although it is not totally unproblematic, it would provide a large amount of energy and dramatically improve the environment. Countries such as France have made good use of nuclear power.

My feeling is that more use could be made of win power. In some countries, there has been a reluctance to use wind turbines, even in areas which are not densely populated, as some people believe they are eyesores. Personally, I believe they are not only useful, but beautiful as well. Governments should spend more time and effort promoting the benefits of this source of energy and trying to make the public understand the reasons for change.

In conclusion I believe that, if governments forced everyone to have a wind turbine and solar panels on the building they lived in, made more use of wave power and built more nuclear power stations, then they would manage to avert the dangers that are seriously threatening the Earth.

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