Topic 1 Do you think that parents should be punished if their five-year-old child commits a crime? From what are should children be held responsible for their own behaviours?

Parents’ intervention can heavily influence a child’s personality and behaviours development. It is an interesting subject o discussion whether parents should be liable for their five-year-old child’s lawoffending behavior or even subject to punishment. In my viewpoint, parents must be held responsible.
Unlike adults, children break the law in the absence of either incentive or motive. Their acts are accidental and intuitive, signaling the accumulative effect of the environment where they grow up. Children in formative years are particularly susceptible to whom they meet and what they see in their daily lives. For example, their violent acts are very likely to reflect a mixed effect of their repeated exposure to violence. Parents should therefore act as gatekeepers to prevent their children from watching TV and playing video games, thereby negating the influence of media. Once a child uses violence, it reveals that his or her parents have habitually failed to fulfill those duties. For this reason parents should be accountable for their child’s wrongdoing.
Another example to show parents’ effect on their child’s behavior is that many parents fail to set a positive role model. More often than not, parents have their own behavior problems (such as using violence in the face of their children). As children have a natural ability to imitate others, their violent or unlawful behavior 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 conclusion.
In conclusion, parents should be subject to punishment when their children violate the law, in view of their tremendous influence on their child’s behavior. It is their inescapable responsibility until their child come 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=reserve=wipe out
10. Courtesy=politeness
11. Discontented=dissatisfied
12. For the most part=on the whole=principally
13. Inescapable=inevitable
14. Come of age=come to maturity=become an adult

Topic 2: When international media (including movies, fashion shows, advertisements and other TV programmes) convey the same messages to the global audience, people argue that the expansion of international media has negative impacts on cultural diversity. What is your opinion?

As international media companies expand across the world, the growing popularity and uniformity of some media programmes (such as TV shows, movies, fashion shows) is causing worldwide concern. Many people have strong views toward this trend. In my opinion, international media is closely linked to cultural globalization and cultural homogeneity.

The dominance of international media is a sign of Western cultural imperialism and has the potential to thwart cultural diversity. It is not a secret that international media is owned and operated by a handful of giant corporations, such as Time Warner. They control large sectors of the media market and place national media companies at risk. The contraction in the number of media owners will cause a proportional reduction in the variety of programmes broadcasted. For example, painting, music and movies accessible in the media have a small number of genres, imposing restraints on one’s knowledge of artworks of different cultural backgrounds.

In addition to seizing control over those creative industries, global entertainment companies affect cultural diversity by reshaping the perceptions, beliefs and norms of ordinary citizens in different countries. Most of the cultural values and ideals promoted by the leading mainstream media are of American origin. American culture values individuality, maximization of one’s benefits and material wealth, rather than communal life and family solidarity, the values and norms previously treasured in many Asian countries. Unfortunately, many Asian people now imitate American people, causing the alteration of their perceptions of family. This radical change can be attributed to those movies and TV programmes that portray the success of American individuals or corporations.

The loss of media diversity is also responsible for people’s narrow sense of ways of life. The ruling class of many countries speaks English, favors Western food, wears Western-style jackets and even prefers Western weddings. Young people are captivated by American basketball and some even daubing the names of NBA stars on their school sweatsuits. All these transformations in life are the result of the audience’s exposure to Hollywood movies, TV shows and sports reports. The loss of media diversity will lead to degradation of culture and to a minimization of cultural diversity. It is a worrying trend, as people need cultural diversity to preserve and pass on their value heritage to future generations, including lifestyle.

As shown above, international media, controlled by a handful of transnational media corporations, is exporting Western culture worldwide and putting many indigenous cultures at the risk of extinction. The uniformity of media programmes has led to that of artworks, norms and ways of life wherever international media goes.

1. Dominance = domination = power                                          

2. Sign = symbol = mark = signal = indication

3. Thwart = prevent = spoil = ruin                                                 

4. A handful of = a small number of

5. Contraction = reduction                                                              

6. Proportional = relative

7. Perception = view = opinion                                                      

8. Ideal = value = belief = principle

9. Solidarity = unity = harmony = cohesion

10.Be captivated by = be obsessed with = be passionate about = be addicted to = be keen on = be enthusiastic about

11.Pass on = give = impact = convey

Topic 3: There is a disagreement on the impact of increased business and culture contact between countries on a country’s identity. What is your opinion?

One of the most conspicuous trends in the 21st century is a closer connection between countries, in both economic and cultural aspects. There is a widespread worry that this will lead to the gradual demise of countries’ identities. This issue should be viewed and analyzed from multiple perspectives.

When a country tends to develop a closer relationship with the rest of the world, it does not necessarily give up its culture. Culture is not a disgrace to but an asset of a country. An indigenous culture can distinguish one country from others, attracting foreign visitors and yielding high income. As most tourists travel abroad for learning different cultures and sampling different ways of life, such as Beijing opera in China, Japanese tea culture and Thai temples, many countries have responded with protecting and preserving their cultural identities, in an effort to keep themselves in the list of the most popular destinations. Increased tourism instills fresh life force into these countries, aiding the conservation of their features.

While tourism provides a driving force for cultural conservation, some components of a culture, such as traditions, customs or taboos might die out over time. It seems that in some countries, the locals have become more accustomed to exotic cultures. It reflects the combined effects of the invasion of foreign cultures, either through media or through direct business interaction. For example, two decades ago, sex was a taboo subject in China and most Chinese people felt embarrassed to talk openly about it. Over time the Western culture has permeated into the Chinese lifestyle, and the Chinese people have broken many of their time-honored traditions. It occurs in the rest of the world as well.

As outlined above, increased interaction between countries in the domains of business and culture can either strengthen or undermine the identities of countries involved. To date there is no definite answer to this question.

1.Conspicuous = noticeable = prominent = striking

2. Connection = linkage = relation = relationship

3.Demise = disappearance = vanishing = fading

4. Multiple = manifold = numerous = various = many

5.Disgrace = dishonour = shame = humiliation

6.Life force = soul = essence

7.Conservation = protection = preservation

8.Exotic = bizarre = outlandish = from afar = mysteriously unusual

9.Taboo = offensive = embarrassing = unacceptable = disgraceful = dishonourable = humiliating

10.Permeate = seep into = pervade = leak into

11.Time-honoured =  age-old = long-established

12.Interaction = interplay = communication = relationship

Topic 4: Some people believe that culture will be ruined if it is used to earn tourism revenue, but others consider that tourism is the only way of protecting a culture. Discuss both sides and give your own opinion.

There is little room for doubt that tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. However, its impact on culture remains a source of constant debate. This essay will elaborate on both positive and negative effects of tourism from a cultural perspective.

Providing economic incentives for cultural preservation is unarguably one of the main contributions of tourism. To many tourists, culture and history are what they first consider when choosing a destination. Their mindset has been recognized by many tourism sites and money has been subsequently directed toward cultural protection, including the maintenance of key historical sites. Tourism is therefore one of the primary forces contributing to the preservation of a culture.

In addition to raising financing, tourism can make an indigenous culture known to the world and rally support worldwide to protect it. When a historic site or a site that shows a country’s cultural heritage is made accessible to the public, visitors from all over the world will soon flock there. They will share their experience in the local culture with their friends and families once they return home, assisting this site to gain international fame. Both financial and technological support will flood in for the conservation of natural and cultural resources.

On the negative side, tourism develops sometimes at the expense of part of culture. Food, festivals, costumes and other stimulating elements of a culture are highlighted to entertain tourists, constituting an insult to the locals and causing damage to the unique nature of a culture. Moreover, cultural commercialization has made the sacred elements of a culture commonplace and tourists are encouraged to attach little importance to a unique tradition, which cannot be found elsewhere. More to the point, when tourists rush to a place, they may pollute the place, both culturally and environmentally.

In the light of these facts, one can conclude that tourism is neither a boon nor a bane to cultural preservation. While its endeavor to protect an indigenous culture should be recognized, it has put the integrity of a culture at risk.

1.Unarguably = unquestionably = indisputably = undeniably

2.Destination = site = place

3 Maintenance = preservation = upholding = protection

4.Indigenous = original = aboriginal

5.Fame = reputation = recognition = eminence

6.At the expense of = at the cost of

7.Entertain = amuse = keep somebody amused                              

8.Insult = offense

9.Commonplace = ordinary

10.In the light of = in view of = considering = taking into account

11.Endeavour = effort = attempt

12.Integrity = entirety = unity

13.Put at risk = endanger = jeopardise                 

Topic 5: The advantages of the spread of English as a global language will continue to outweigh its disadvantages. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

In these years, there is a growing recognition that English is well on its way to becoming the dominant global language. The impact of this trend is a subject of intense debate. It is my opinion that advantages of a dominant global language will continue to outweigh its disadvantages.

The rise of a global language is a facilitator of cross-cultural communication and the communication between peoples with different language backgrounds. In different areas of global communication, such as science and news, recognizing a common language removes communication barriers and increases convenience. On many formal occasions, English, as a working language, boosts efficiency and avoids misunderstanding. Likewise, the exchange of essential information like know-how and technologies will be tremendously prompted.

One might argue that the rise of a global language would endanger other languages, in a belief that an increasing number of people have turned to English as their first language. This viewpoint is flawed. The spread of global English has little, if any, influence on non-English-speakers’ language proficiency. People might be motivated to learn English as a foreign language but do not necessarily drop their native language because learning beginner or intermediate level English is sufficient for day-to-day communication.

The dominance of English as a global language is, therefore, not a cause of the loss of language diversity. Its negative effect is reflected mainly in cultural imperialism. As international media recognizes English as its root language, most of the broadcasted information is related to the lifestyle, norms and beliefs of English-speaking countries. It might over time put many minority cultures on the verge of extinction, when those ethnic groups gradually adopt the Western culture. The effects of shrinking cultural diversity are destructive, causing people to live in a simple and monotonous world and think and act in similar ways.

The development of English is overall, a positive global trend. It connects people who previously spoke different languages and enables them to exchange ideas for better mutual understanding, although it might somehow lead to the loss of some cultural diversity.

1.Know-how = knowledge

2.Prompt = encourage = stimulate = trigger=incite                                              3.Imperialism = colonialism

4.On the verge of = on the brink of = on the edge of

5.Destructive = damaging = devastating = injurious = detrimental

6.Connect = unite = link

Topic 6: Aircrafts have been increasingly used to transport fruits and vegetables to some countries where such plants hardly grow or are out of season. Some people consider it a good trend, but some people oppose it. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

There has been a steady increase in the demand for imports throughout the world in recent years, including those perishable items, such as fruits and vegetables. Despite the boom in this business, importing agricultural products is very often criticized as unnecessary and extravagant, especially when air freight is involved. The criticism was correct in the past, but at the present time, there are indications that this trade activity has brought various benefits.

At first, it is important to note that contrary to popular belief, imports are now increasingly affordable to the general population. Thanks to the rapid development of the freight transport industry, air travel has become an economical mode of transport, resulting in the subsequent decrease in the cost of importing. Meanwhile, technical advance in the food processing industry has made it much easier to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables over a long-haul flight. Because of the wide availability of imported crops, there are more varieties in the food market, leading to the drop in the price of imports. The supply of products in the market is less likely to be influenced by seasonal factors, and an adequate intake of nutrition is guaranteed for the general population through the year.

Another fact to note is that import and export normally go hand in hand, and a country that imports goods from other countries does not necessarily suffer a loss. Trade is not unilateral but bilateral. Some countries are noted for an agrarian economy, while others specialize in manufacturing industrial products. Countries differ in their product structures because they have dissimilar natural resources, climates, and geographical features. By adopting an enlightened policy and promoting trade activities with other countries, a country can facilitate the exchange of goods, services and capital with the rest of the world and promote economic development.

On the negative side, some countries might become addicted to importing goods and overlook the possibility of developing a self-contained economy. Scarcity of resource or lack of technology might disable a country from producing crops to feed its population, but it cannot be taken as an excuse for relying heavily on imports. Government funding in scientific research can make it possible to achieve a breakthrough and increase the yield, thereby resolving food supply crisis.

Countries are therefore advised to promote international trade and to develop their own industries simultaneously. Positive attitudes toward importing goods from other countries demonstrate a government’s stance on the international trade, although the government should also prevent itself from relying on imported goods.

1.Perishable = easy to rot

2.Boom = rapid growth = sudden increase = expansion = surge

3.Extravagant = wasteful = luxurious

4.At the present time = at present = currently

5.Indication = sign = hint = clue

6.Variety = selection

7.Go hand in hand = be closely connected = be inseperable

8.Unilateral = one-sided

9.Enlightened = liberal = open-minded

10.Overlook = neglect = ignore

11.Self-contained = self-reliant = self-sufficient

12.Scarcity = deficiency = shortage = dearth = deficit

13.Yield = harvest = the amount of crops produced

14.Simultaneously = at the same time

15.Stance = position = stand

16.Impede = hinder                                              

Topic 7: Millions of dollars are spent on space research every year. Some people argue that money should be spent on improving living standards on Earth. Do you agree or disagree?

In recent years, there have been more and more countries involved and interested in long-term space projects. Because of the enormous research expenditures incurred, the value of space projects has been disputed. Some people suggest that government funding should be diverted towards improving the living standard of ordinary people. In evaluating the merits of space ambition, one should adopt a broader perspective. The investment in space research can be paid off someday in the future.  “Hard work pays off”, scarce

The first reason to support it is that our planet is now facing unprecedented resource problem, which can be tackled only by discovering and mining new resources on other planets. The overuse or scarcity of some resources on the Earth is a severe problem. Rare metals, such as gold or silver, will eventually be depleted, as industrial production expands. These metals and other natural resources, although rare on Earth, might abound on other planets. In that case, conducting space research is a promising adventure.           (Hygiene)

Meanwhile, the world’s population is now growing to a stage where there are too many people for the planet to support, highlighting the need to seek land suitable for people’s re-settlement off the planet. Even if the new urban developments are able to accommodate the increasing population, water and electricity supply, waste treatment, sewage disposal and sanitation will become unmanageable for the capacity of our planet. As there are countless planets orbiting stars throughout the universe, one can be confident that at least one of them is suitable for our second home planet. Mars, for example, bearing a close resemblance to the Earth, is considered a potential backup.

In addition to searching for a shelter for future generations, space programmes contribute considerably to the well-being of the Earth in some other aspects. For example, by monitoring the ozone layer, global warming, the loss of rain forests and other environmental threats to human survival, remote sensing satellites help people trace the recovery from the worst environmental threats and thereby improve the quality of life. Meanwhile, space research provides a new platform on which scientists can carry out experiments and make new discoveries in a variety of fields, such as agriculture.

As suggested above, in locating new resources, positioning new settlements, addressing environmental concerns and facilitating scientific discovery, space research will prove to be not only worthwhile, but also crucial to the survival and sustainability of human civilization.

1.Value = merit = worthiness = worth

2.Divert = redirect = reroute = switch

3.Overuse = overexploitation

4.Abound = be plentiful = thrive = flourish = proliferate = grow in great numbers

5.Adventure = voyage = journey

6.Re-settlement = relocation = immigration

7.Sewage = sullage = waste water

8.Unmanageable = uncontrollable = unruly

9.Backup = candidate = replacement

10.Recovery = healing = recuperation

11Platform = stage

Topic 8: Some people argue that the government should spend money on public services and facilities, but not on the arts. Do you agree or disagree?

The role of arts in modern life is unique, providing people with entertainment and yielding various psychological rewards, such as relief from stress. Despite these benefits, the arts have been taken as luxury goods in many cases. It is suggested that public money of a city should be concentrated in projects like public facilities, which are more likely to bring immediate benefits to the public, rather than the arts. There are a number of facts indicating that this position is right.

Public facilities, widely accepted as one of the main precursors to a city’s development, should be one of the highest priorities. Those underdeveloped cities in particular, should direct sufficient funding towards public facilities. While municipal office buildings, courthouses and post offices are essential components of public services; libraries, hospitals, parks, playing fields, gymnasiums and swimming pools are available to the public for social, educational, athletic and cultural activities. By boosting spending on public facilities, cities are more capable to satisfy the needs of citizens and improve the standard of living.

In addition to social benefits, there are economic merits that public facilities can offer to communities. An integrated transport network (maritime, land and inland waterways transport and civil aviation), for example, promises the smooth and speedy movement of goods and people in a city. Industrial products, as well as agricultural produce of a city, can be delivered to other cities in exchange for steady income. Of equal importance are public Internet facilities. Providing access to information by improving Internet and other telecommunications facilities has relevance to the ease with which businesses in a city receive, process, utilize and send information. It is no exaggeration to say that entrepreneurs, either from home or abroad, will first examine the infrastructure of a city before deciding whether to pursue business opportunities there.

The arts, by comparison, although enabling people to see the world and the human condition differently and to see a truth one might ignore before, do not merit government spending. The first reason is that the arts – referring to music, film and literature altogether – are more likely to attract the investment of the private sector than public facilities. Businesspeople continue to invest in the arts in the expectation of earning lump sum income and the arts in return, continue to flourish without government spending. Meanwhile, the art are a key component of a culture and naturally passed down from one generation to another. Unlike public facilities, they require no money to survive.

It is therefore clear that construction of public facilities should be given the foremost consideration. The concern about the well-being of individual citizens and that of a city is more acute than the apprehension about the survival and prospects of the arts, something that businesses have a stake in.

1.Precursor = forerunner = foundation

2.Municipal = urban = metropolitan

3.Merit = value = advantage

4.Integrate = amalgamate = combine = mix

5.Merit = deserve = earn

6.Flourish = thrive = burgeon = boom

7.Apprehension = anxiety = uneasiness = dread = fearfulness

8.Stake = involvement = concern = interest = share

 

Topic 9: The advantages of the spread of English as a global language will continue to outweigh its disadvantages. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

In these years, there is a growing recognition that English is well on its way to becoming the dominant global language. The impact of this trend is a subject of intense debate. It is my opinion that advantages of a dominant global language will continue to outweigh its disadvantages.

The rise of a global language is a facilitator of cross-cultural communication and the communication between peoples with different language backgrounds. In different areas of global communication, such as science and news, recognizing a common language removes communication barriers and increases convenience. On many formal occasions, English, as a working language, boosts efficiency and avoids misunderstanding. Likewise, the exchange of essential information like know-how and technologies will be tremendously prompted.

One might argue that the rise of a global language would endanger other languages, in a belief that an increasing number of people have turned to English as their first language. This viewpoint is flawed. The spread of global English has little, if any, influence on non-English-speakers’ language proficiency. People might be motivated to learn English as a foreign language but do not necessarily drop their native language because learning beginner or intermediate level English is sufficient for day-to-day communication.

The dominance of English as a global language is, therefore, not a cause of the loss of language diversity. Its negative effect is reflected mainly in cultural imperialism. As international media recognizes English as its root language, most of the broadcasted information is related to the lifestyle, norms and beliefs of English-speaking countries. It might over time put many minority cultures on the verge of extinction, when those ethnic groups gradually adopt the Western culture. The effects of shrinking cultural diversity are destructive, causing people to live in a simple and monotonous world and think and act in similar ways.

The development of English is overall, a positive global trend. It connects people who previously spoke different languages and enables them to exchange ideas for better mutual understanding, although it might somehow lead to the loss of some cultural diversity.

1.Know-how = knowledge

2.Prompt = encourage = stimulate = trigger=incite                                             

3.Imperialism = colonialism

4.On the verge of = on the brink of = on the edge of

5.Destructive = damaging = devastating = injurious = detrimental

6.Connect = unite = link

MORE PRACTICE

Topic 1: Increasing travels between countries enable people to learn different cultures or to increase tension between people from different countries?

Topic 2: When international media (including movies, fashion shows, advertisements and other TV programmes) convey the same messages to the global audience, people argue that the expansion of international media has negative impacts on cultural diversity. What is your opinion?

Topic 3: There is a disagreement on the impact of increased business and culture contact between countries on a country’s identity. What is your opinion?

Topic 4: Some people believe that culture will be ruined if it is used to earn tourism revenue, but others consider that tourism is the only way of protecting a culture. Discuss both sides and give your own opinion.

Topic 5: The advantages of the spread of English as a global language will continue to outweigh its disadvantages. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Topic 6: Aircrafts have been increasingly used to transport fruits and vegetables to some countries where such plants hardly grow or are out of season. Some people consider it a good trend, but some people oppose it. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

Topic 7: Millions of dollars are spent on space research every year. Some people argue that money should be spent on improving living standards on Earth. Do you agree or disagree?

Topic 8: Some people argue that the government should spend money on public services and facilities, but not on the arts. Do you agree or disagree?

Topic 9: Some people argue that the government should spend money only on medical care and education but not on theaters and sport stadiums. Do you agree or disagree?

Topic: People should keep all the money they earn and should not pay taxes to the state. Do you agree or disagree?

Topic 11: It is widely accepted that people who have post-school qualification earn higher salary than those less educated do. University students should, therefore, pay all the full cost incurred over the course of obtaining a college education. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Topic 12: Today, more school leavers are unable to find jobs. Discuss the causes of rising unemployment among young adults and suggest any solutions.

Topic 13: in recent years, the proportion of the crimes committed by youngsters is on the rise. Discuss causes to this problem and suggest solutions.

Topic 14: Some people argue that it is good for children to stay away from their families and go to a boarding school. Others suggest that children live with their families and attend a day school. What is your opinion?

Topic 15: Do you think it is good to push students to study hard in their youth?

Topic 16: One’s character traits are strongly influenced by the place where he or she grew up. Discuss the impacts of an urban environment and those of rural environment on a child’s character development.

Topic 17: 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?

Topic 18: 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?

Topic 19: Opinions divide concerning what plays a more important role in people’s personality development, nature or nurture. What is your opinion?

Topic 20: 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.