Topic 112: What are the benefits of requiring young people to serve the army? Does participation in community work qualify as an alternative?
Despite the fact that military conscription is voluntary in much of the world, it remains compulsory in some countries like South Korea. In peacetime, serving the army is more than simply protecting motherland from any potential military attack. An alternative view is that it can be deemedas a test ofmanhoodand a riteofpassagefrom boyhood into manhood. While military training has its merits, some alternatives, such as community service, can be taken into account.
Military service allows young people to reappersonal benefits and enhance their personal growth. First of all, trainees can raise their physical fitness and enjoy better health. They meanwhile develop a sense of team spirit and improve abilities to get along well with others. They learn to cope with problems independently and gain self-confidence. It also helps expand their social circle, a valuable, although intangible, asset when they return to civilian life. Servicemen have no difficulties in winning others' respect and their experience is comparableto education, work experience or recommendations. They are very often perceived as efficient, organised and excellent time managers.
Despite those benefits brought by military service, its mandatory nature is the nubof the argument. Many young people cannot cope with the high level of stress in the army. That's why community service is suggested as an alternative in most countries. As distinct from military service, which demands full engagement of conscripts, community service requires young volunteers to contribute part of their time, energy and skills only. Moreover, community service tends to rendermore direct assistance to participants in preparing for the workforce. By volunteering, young adults develop skills, gain work experience and explore career options. They can also acquire practical knowledge through service.
In view of the advantages and disadvantages of military service outlined above, one can conclude that military service is helpful only when it is voluntary. Mandatory military service does not fit all young people, whereas community service benefits every young person who wants to make a smooth transition from school to work.
1. deem = think of = consider = regard
2. manhood = adulthood = adult years = maturity
3. rite = ritual = ceremony
4. passage = walkway -path
5. reap = harvest = garner = obtain = acquire
6. comparable = similar = analogous
7. nub = crucial point = core
8. conscript = recruit = rookie
9. render = provide = deliver = give
Topic 113: Many people join distance-learning programmes (study material, post. TV, Internet) and study at home, but some people think that it cannot bring the same benefit as attending colleges or universities does. Do you agree or disagree?
To keep abreast ofthe 21st century, large numbers of people are seeking to receive tertiary education. Distance learning, a state-of-the-arteducational model, has received wide currencyamong qualification seekers. Despite being an important alternative to formal education, whether distance learning can achieve the same effect as the traditional form of university education — i.e., going to university in person — is genuinely open to discussion.
Distance learning, first of all, requires a high degree of maturity or commitment from students because it proceeds in the absence of teachers or tutors. It suits those self-motivated and self-directedstudents, instead of those who have difficulty in self-scheduling and independent learning. For those young learners, who are generally lack of motivation and self-control, their learning effort tends to be disorganised, futileand fragmentary. They will over time develop bad study habits and lag behindtheir peers.
The second weakness of distance learning is its over-dependence on media. Media have a myriad of contents that are likely to divert students' attention from their study. Online games and browsing webpages, for example, consume much of young learners' time. In addition, sitting in front of the computer for several hours in successionmight cause boredom, fatigue, or other physical problems. The university' campus, in contrast, leaves no chance for this kind of problems, because students are supervised and monitored by faculty members. Meanwhile, their interactions with classmates are constant. It is beneficial for learners to organise teamwork and develop interpersonal relationships.
As indicated above, under no circumstance distance learning can be taken as a qualified substitute for traditional methods of learning. Learners' low motivation and commitment, inadequate interaction with teachers and some other inherent problems have made it nearly impossible to replace a traditional class with a virtual class.
1. keep abreast of = stay up-to-date with = stay aware of