Topic 6: The advantages of the spread of English as a global language will continue to outweigh its disadvantages. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
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 people with different language backgrounds. In different areas of global communication, such as science and news, recognising 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-howand 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 recognises 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 ofextinction, 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 connectspeople who previously spoke different languages and enables them to exchange ideas, although it might lead to the loss of cultural diversity.
1. know-how = knowledge
2. prompt = encourage = stimulate = trigger
3. imperialism = colonialism
4. on the verge of = on the brink of = on the edge of
Topic 7: Aircrafts have been increasingly used to transport fruits and vegetables to some countries where such plants hardly grow or are out of season. Some people consider it a good trend, but some people oppose it. Discuss both views and give your opinion.
There has been a steady increase in the demand for imports throughout the world in recent years, including those perishableitems, such as fruits and vegetables. Despite the boomin this business, importing agricultural products is very often criticised as unnecessary and extravagant, especially when air freight is involved. The criticism was correct in the past, but at the present time, there are indicationsthat this trade activity has brought various benefits.
At first, it is important to note that contrary to popular belief, imports are now increasingly affordable to the general population. Thanks to the rapid development of the freight transport industry, air travel has become an economical mode of transport, resulting in the subsequent decrease in the cost of importing. Meanwhile, technical advance in the food processing industry has made it much easier to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables over a long-haul air flight. Because of the wide availability of imported crops, there are more varietiesin the food market, leading to the drop in the price of imports. The supply of products in the market is less likely to be influenced by seasonal factors, and an adequate intake of nutrition is guaranteed for the general population throughout the year.
Another fact to note is that import and export normally go hand in hand, and a country that imports goods from other countries does not necessarily suffer a loss. Trade is not unilateralbut bilateral. Some countries are noted for an agrarian economy, while others specialise in manufacturing industrial products. Countries differ in their product structures because they have dissimilar natural resources, climates, and geographical features. By adopting an enlightenedpolicy 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 overlookthe possibility of developing a self-containedeconomy. Scarcityof 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 ownindustries simultaneously. Positive attitudes toward importing goods from other countries demonstrate a government's stanceon the international trade, although the government should also prevent itself from relying on imported goods.
13. yield = harvest = the amount of crops produced
14. simultaneously = at the same time
15. stance = position = stand
Topic 8: Millions of dollars are spent on space research every year. Some people argue that the money should be spent on improving living standards on Earth. Do you agree or disagree?
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 valueof space projects has been disputed. Some people suggest that government funding should be divertedtoward improving the living standard of ordinary people. In evaluating the merits of space ambition, one should adopt a broader perspective. The investment in space research can be paid off someday in the future.
The first reason to support it is that our planet is now facing an unprecedented resource problem, which can be tackled only by discovering and mining new resources on other planets. The overuseor 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 aboundon other planets. In that case, conducting space research is a promising adventure.
Meanwhile, the world's population is now growing to a stage where there are too many people for the planet to support, highlighting the need to seek land suitable for people's re-settlementoff the planet. Even if new urban developments are able to accommodate the increasing population, water and electricity supply, waste treatment, sewagedisposal and sanitation will become unmanageablefor 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 hole, global warming, the loss of rain forests and other environmental threats to human survival, remote sensing satellites help people trace the recoveryfrom the worst environmental threats and thereby improve the quality of life. Meanwhile, space research provides a new platformon 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 civilisation.
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
11. platform = stage
Topic 9: Space travel to the Moon is often cited as one giant leap for mankind. Yet some people argue that this achievement made little difference to our daily lives. What is your opinion?
The idea of travelling through space, even living and working on other planets, has fascinated people for centuries. Despite numerous setbacks and daunting expenditures, travelling in the outer space has never failed to attract people's attention and provoke controversy. Sixty years after the first Moon landing, people question whether the feat, previously thought of as a giant leap for mankind, has substantially benefited people's lives. In my opinion, landing on the Moon has enormous relevancefor the quality of life, albeit not always explicit.
The first implication of Moon landing is reflected in the likelihood of travelling on other planets. Moon, as the object in the outer space closet to the Earth, can serve as a launch site for the journeys to other planets. Having no atmosphere, the Moon is a permanent base for people to observethe universe easily and provide them with sufficient evidence they require for decision making on a great many significant issues, which are likely to have direct impact on them. For example, one can team more about the treat of potentially hazardous objects that are likely to hit the Earth and destroy our civilisation.
Another remarkable breakthrough made by the Moon landing is that it reignites people's enthusiasm in the natural sciences. When today's youths become increasingly interested in such subjects as commerce, finance and business, space exploration successfully attracts and retains talents in space-related technologies. These young minds are convinced that unravellingthe unknownof the universe is feasible, despite many challenges. They are inspired to think for the future, instead of being preoccupied with contemporary issues only.
It should also be noted that the Moon has water, the basic resource for people's survival, and it abounds in solar energy, a clean and readily obtainableresource. It is also believed that minerals are plentiful there to be exploited. Some day, if people are forced to move off the Earth, the Moon might be the best shelter. Although people have not yet fully explored this possibility at this stage, preliminaryinvestigation is imperative.
Based on the above-mentioned facts, one can conclude that the Moon landing greatly impacts on distant future, although its effect is not apparent for the time being. The Moon is the eventual gatewayto other planets and potentially the place of residence for the future generations. The scientific knowledge and economic benefits to be gained by building a sustainable Moon base are huge.