Topic 89: Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad.
In recent years, there has been a growing trend toward studying abroad among young people. When pursuing educational opportunities overseas is widely considered as a life-transformingopportunity, students should take ona number of challenges. Below are some specific advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad.
Studying abroad allows one to gain a real knowledge of a new culture and a new language. By interacting and communicating with native speakers daily, students can enhance their foreign language skills. They will simultaneously explore the values and ways of life of the host country. For example, Asian students might be surprised to find that communication in Western countries is starkly open and straightforward, in sharp contrast to the intense use of non-verbal messages in communication in their home countries. Not surprisingly, even simple everyday experiences, such as buying food and mailing letter, can help improve language proficiencyand promote culture learning. It gives students new perspectives on how things are done.
During their overseas trips, many students will learn how to take care of themselves and live independently. They might have initial difficulties in fulfilling even the simplest tasks at the very beginning, such as grocery shopping, doing laundry, making living arrangements and setting accounts for electricity, but before long, they will adapt to the new environment and become self-sufficient. Moreover, by interacting with people from different backgrounds, overseas students can exercise and improve their social skills, an experience which is of great value to their careers later in life.
While studying abroad has its advantages, it might have its drawbacks Most of the students are lack of life experience when they first travel overseas. Failure to cope with the problems that arise from their everyday lives might cause frustration. They feel helpless, suffer homesick and in worse cases, have a breakdown.
As suggested above, studying abroad poses both opportunities and challenges. While young people can become polyglotsand independent individuals, gain opportunities for personal growth and develop an appreciation of cultural differences, they have to cope with the stress of living overseas.
Topic 90: Some people argue that learning a second language involves learning the culture of the country where this language is spoken (including lifestyles). What is your opinion?
To most people, second language acquisition is a lengthy and exhaustingprocess. A general approach taken by most learners is to learn vocabulary and memorise grammar rules. They contend that language speaks for itself and the meaning of language lies in the language itself. In my opinion, a language goes beyond its literalmeaning and delivers different messages as situations change. The cultural context and background of a language have a bearing on the forming of a language. There is no distinction between acquiring a language and acquiring a culture.
The first reason to support the above contentionis that culture influences the evolution and formation of a language. Learning a culture can help learners understand many aspects of a language, wording, syntax, and so forth. For example, word order, the order in which words appear in sentences, differs from language to language. In some languages, the object normally comes ahead of the subject, as opposed tothe word order in the English language. It mirrorsthe disparityin ways of seeing things and ways of thinking between people who speak different languages. Learning a culture can draw the attention of learners to these differences and therefore lead them to use a foreign language appropriately.
Familiarity with a culture is also known as the prerequisiteof communication with native speakers. Effective communication relies not only on wording, pronunciation and sentence construction but also on physical gesture, body language and facial expressions. In fact, non-verbal messages sometimes tell people more than verbal messages do. For example, silence in the English-speaking country might indicate the agreement of the speaker on something, but in some Asian countries, silence might conveya message to the contrary, disagreement or even resentment. There is no denying that by learning the cultural dimensions of a language, a language learner can make him-or-herself acquainted with the skills and habits involved in cross-cultural communication.
Although the importance of studying the cultural aspect of language is indisputable, it should not be over-emphasised. For most learners, especially for those at an elementary' level, the cultural elements of a language are remote and incomprehensible. Intrusionof these messages will create confusion. Learners will flounderwhen the progress toward success is little and the situation appears to be unmanageable. Language acquisition requires a high commitment of time and effort, so new learners are advised to concentrate on the language itself at the first stage.
From what has been discussed, one can make it clear that culture is an element that determines the difference between languages. Failing to recognise this would impedelanguage learning. However, for new learners, acquiring a culture is less practical, for it requires great effort and produces little outcome.
1. exhausting = tiring = arduous = strenuous
2. literal = plain = unvarnished = basic = original