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Topic 40: Some people think that telling the truth is not always essential. It is necessary to tell lies sometimes. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Few subjects are as likely to provoke controversy as the necessity of lying. Those who defend lying contend that truth might not be always desired, while untruth provides the best solutions on some occasions in the real life context. This argument seems absurd at first sight, but with some facts closely examined, one can see some strong elements lie within it.

The first justification for lying is that a lie is not necessarily immoral. Instead, it can be benign and beneficial. There are occasions in life on which people have to conceal part of the truth or even twist facts. For example, it is acceptable if one withholds a fact from a friend or family member that he or she is diagnosed with cancer. It is to give the patient a peaceful frame of mind, a condition that has a healing power. From this example, one can observe that while a falsehood is condemned by many on ethical grounds, it in fact shows sympathy and goodwill.

Another justification is that lying, in the broad sense, has accompanied people since the early childhood as part of the daily routine. The boundary between lies and white lies or banters is blurred. Sometimes people tell a lie, or to be more precise, overstate or downplay a fact for amusement or other social purposes. A telling example is that people often compliment their friends on the food they prepare, despite the fact that the meal is not enjoyable at all. People are taught to spare another person's feelings, rather than speaking something straightforward that can cause discomfort or distress.

Although the preceding discussion tends to excuse a lie teller, it does not justify lying as an entrenched habit. Honesty is still being regarded as a core virtue in many traditions. There is little doubt that a man who is known for his candour is more likely to earn respect than a man lying habitually. A truth-telling environment is what communities are striving to establish. Lying should not be allowed unless it is appropriate, as it creates an ethos of distrust.

From what has been discussed, it is unfair to label lying as an unethical act. People's moral standing depends as much on their willingness to look after others' feelings and please others for better moods as on their adherence to truth. While telling a lie is accepted or even recommended in some situations, telling the truth is what people pursue as an honourable tradition.

1. untruth = lie = falsehood

2. context = background = circumstance = environment

3. absurd = ridiculous = bizarre = illogical = meaningless

4. justification = reason = explanation

5. benign = kind = benevolent

6. diagnose = detect

7. frame of mind = mental condition

8. goodwill = kindness = friendliness = benevolence

9. banter = tease = joke

10. amusement = pleasure = enjoyment = laughter = delight

11.compliment = praise = pay tribute to = remark favourably on

12.spare = save

13.excuse = forgive

14.entrenched = ingrained = deep-rooted = fixed = unshakable

15.virtue = good value



16.distrust = disbelief = scepticism


Topic 41: Today, people are getting greedy and selfish. Some people argue that we should go back to the old days, and show respect for the family and community, so that we can make the world a better place to live in. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Perhaps the tendency inward individualism has never been clearer than it is now. People seem to become increasingly self-centred and snobbish. I side with those people who believe that reviving the bygone concept of family and community is important

The rise of egoism has profound consequences on the unity of a family, causing the breakdown of family solidarity. Every component of a family can be detrimentally affected, if one member is egoistic. "Blood is thicker than water", as an old saying indicates. People will turn to family first if they are confronted with problems. People used to live in a community in which they lived according to an ethos of sharing and caring, but nowadays, members of a family tend to work separately for their individual benefits. They are ignorant of the fact that families not only give them tangible benefits (e.g., financial aid), but also otter emotional support from which they obtain strength, comfort and confidence.

Egoism also causes people to ignore the good of the community, a problem that is disruptive to the community. So greedy are some people that they can go so far to engage in illegal activities. For example, some merchants earn handsome incomes from producing disqualified products and cajoling people to buy what they do not actually need. They, meanwhile, refuse to plough back any fraction of their income to the community. Individuals become indifferent to others' interests and the relationship between individual members tends to become superficial, transient and ad hoc. People remain as onlookers when neighbours ask for help, and social solidarity has been dismantled in front of the overwhelming egoism.

As shown above, greedy and egoism are set to bring both the society and the families in grave trouble. The best way to prevent people from further loss in social solidarity and community unity is to reconstruct the concept of family and community, show esteem to one's family, friends, neighbours and even acquaintances, and recover a sense of community and social cohesion.

1. self-centred = selfish = egoistic

2. side with = support = back

3. bygone = past = onetime

4. tangible = touchable = concrete

5. obtain = gain = acquire

6. the good of the community

7. handsome = sizable-considerable

8. disqualified = banned = prohibited

9. cajole = entice = wheedle

10. plough back = reinvest

11. superficial = cursory = shallow

12. transient = fleeting = brief = temporary = transitory = short-lived = ephemeral

13. ad hoc = unprepared = unplanned = improvised = informal

14. onlooker = bystander = watcher

15. reconstruct = rebuild = restructure

16. acquaintance = friend = colleague-associate

17. cohesion = solidarity = unity


Topic 42: Creative artists should be given freedom to express their ideas through words, pictures, music or films. Some people nevertheless think that the government should restrict artists' freedom of expression. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

In principle, every person has the right to communicate his or her views by any means and in any form, known as the right to freedom of expression. However, there has been a lot of debate as to whether artists should be given unrestricted freedom to express their thoughts through their works, such as words, pictures, music and films. I am of mixed opinions on this.

Although a citizen's freedom of speech is protected by law, artists should not be treated as ordinary citizens. Because of the wide appeal of their artworks, the artists can easily enlist the empathy of the audience and make their views profoundly influential over public opinion. On the other hand, freedom of speech does not automatically suggest that one has the freedom to express any opinion, make any statement and deliver any message regardless of contents. If it contains racial elements, radical views toward government, and other objectionable contents, the freedom should be restrained. Artists are not an exception. A good example is that in 2005, a Danish newspaper published 12 editorial cartoons that depicted an Islamic prophet, resulting in violent protests and conflicts worldwide. It shows that the arts possess the power to ruin harmony and promote anarchy.

Apart from artworks that cause social and political unreal, some other types of artworks should be censored as well. In order to increase the visual impact of their works of art, some artists introduce unusual or even offensive images, without looking after the feelings of intended audiences. Many obscene works appear in the guise of artworks, abuse graphic sexual images and expose the public to those unwelcome messages. It will pose a threat on the welfare of the audience, especially that of children. The authority should discriminate between artworks and obscene works and impose limits.

When artists should not be treated as normal people in view of their unique capacity to influence others, their freedom of speech should be protected to the largest extent. Undeniably, their creativity would be inhibited if they are threatened by censorship or prosecution. Many of their artworks might look objectionable at first sight, but over time give people different perspectives to see things. Artworks inspire people to be creative and encourage them to reflect on what happened in the world or in the immediate vicinity. They draw attention to particular issues, which might be otherwise ignored. By encouraging critical and reflective thinking, an artist contributes to addressing social and political issues.

According to the above discussion, people can come to a conclusion that artists are entitled to freedom of speech, although some of the artworks should be thoroughly examined before being made available to the public. It would minimise the risk of causing chaos and discomfort in society—a negative consequence of the unlimited freedom of artists.

1. unrestricted = unhindered = unobstructed = unlimited

2. enlist = procure

3. empathy = compassion = understanding = sympathy

4. profound = great = intense

5. objectionable = offensive = unacceptable = horrible = unpleasant

6. anarchy = disorder = chaos = anarchism = lawlessness

7. unrest = turbulence = turmoil = disorder

8. obscene = filthy = bawdy

9. guise = disguise

10. censorship = restriction = suppression

11. vicinity = surrounding area-neighbourhood


Topic 43: The advance of science and technology has a significant impact on people, but the role of artists is also important, such as musicians, painters and writers. What can the arts tell us about life that science cannot?

Unarguably, the improvement in people's living standard owes much to technical advances, which are driven by science. So important is science that the functions of art are contested by many people. I believe that the arts can convey some messages that science can never be able to convey.

The arts represent human thoughts, whereas science represents natural order. In other words, the arts lead people to perceive the world while science is aimed at discovering the nature of things. What has been found true in science would hardly alter, unless sufficient evidence can be cited to challenge or overrule the established theories and principles. By comparison, what has been conveyed by a work of art is neither right nor wrong, and can he given different meanings by different people. Science sometimes treats a new theory as an erratic and stresses conforming to existing rules and pursuing accuracy. Science is about exploring the undiscovered but existing, in contrast to the arts, which are interested in exploring both the undiscovered and the nonexistent. In simple terms, the arts encourage individuality and creativity, whereas science respects conformance.

Another major distinction is that the arts draw attention to issues that are unique in a particular society, while science attaches importance to the issues that are of interest to mankind as a whole. Contrary to popular belief, artwork does not necessarily aesthetically appeal to a majority of viewers. An artist's primary motive is not only to pursue the aesthetic in the popular mind but also to remind people something that they cannot afford to ignore, such as environment, religion, politics, morality, and so forth. A scientific breakthrough, by comparison, brings benefits that can be shared by the whole human society, but not unique in any specific community.

The arts also give people a sense of cultural background and identity, as a key component of any culture in the world. By contrast, technology and science are uniform to people, regardless of nationality, race and ethnicity. Art has long been a way of passing ideas, concepts, beliefs, values and ways of seeing things to later generations. Because of art, people can be classified into different social and cultural groups.

In conclusion, the arts differ from science in many aspects and because of it, people know more about the world in which they live and get an insight into the society, culture and themselves. While science is objective and based on predetermined guides, art is inherent in the human mind and subjective.

1. perceive = see = recognise = consider

2. overrule = reject = cancel = annul

3. erratic = irregular = unusual

4. conform to = adhere to = obey = cling to = stick to

5. undiscovered = unnoticed = overlooked = ignored

6. nonexistent = missing = fictional = imaginary = conceived

7. ethnicity = the ethnic group one belongs to

8. predetermined = preset = fixed = determined


Topic 44: The government should control the amount of violence in films and on television in order to control violent crimes in society. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this action?

Because of their prevalence, televisions and films are among those media that are believed to potentially affect, change or mould people's thoughts and behaviours. Media watchdogs suggest that some programmes should be censored so as to curb violence. It is necessary, for the link between violence in media and violence in society is evident.

First of all, violent movies promote heroism and individualism, cajoling people to resolve conflicts through violence, rather than legal consultation. Some action movies have conveyed a notion to the audience, especially teenagers, that a hero can be highly regarded, regardless of the consequence of his behaviour. Audiences imitate those role models, in a belief that their behaviour will reap applause from others. In most cases, their actions evolve into violent crimes.

Another category of programmes, war documentaries or crime reports, also opens up the possibility of viewers engaging in violence. Aiming at a high audience rating, TV programme producers are inclined to broadcast crime reports. Some reports can go so far as to present the whole procedure of a law-offending practice, such as robbery, shoplifting, burglary, to mention but a few. Not surprisingly, it functions like a free course from which prospective criminals learn those skills. It contributes to the rise in crime rates and then to the increase in violence that is involved in different kinds of crimes.

As well as those TV shows, action movies have a profound impact on personality development of viewers, leading to their subsequent violent acts. Dominant entertainment media succeed in attracting millions of young viewers every single day. The audience can easily become addicted to TV programmes and tend to be isolated, temperamental and aggressive. They use foul language and employ violence when feeling depressed or estranged. There is no point in denying the fact that the TV is the chief culprit for these emotional disturbances and erratic behaviour patterns.

To summarise, the violence in movies or on television can impact audiences in a variety of ways, and eventually lead to crimes. Therefore, the government should take actions to tackle such a problem and censorship is undoubtedly one of the most effective means.

1. prevalence = popularity = pervasiveness

2. consultation = discussion = talk

3. role model = model = example = exemplar

4. applause = praise = approval = support

5. in most cases = most of the time = in general = more often than not

6. audience rating

7. prospective = potential

8. temperamental = volatile = moody

9. estranged = alienated = separated



Date: 2015-12-17; view: 2310


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Topic 37: What are the factors that cause stress and how to cope with stress? | Topic 45: Some people suggest that there should be restrictions on a detailed description of crimes in the newspapers and on television. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
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