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With the increasing popularity of computers and calculators

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					Topic 1: With the increasing popularity of computers and calculators, student literacy is
decreasing dramatically. What are the positive and negative effects the progress of science
and technology has brought about?

It has been widely noted that, with the growing use of computers and calculators both in the
classroom and in the home, the level of literacy and mathematical ability of students is dropping.
This raises serious doubts about the value of the progress of science and technology. Here I will
discuss the pros and cons of this question.

First of all, advances in science and technology have certainly brought about many benefits for
mankind. They have made our lives more comfortable and healthier. In addition, they have eased
the burden of work for most people and provided them with more leisure opportunities, while at
the same time increasing productivity dramatically.

Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that technology has some negative side-effects. As mentioned
above, with computers which check spelling, grammar and calculation for them, students have
little incentive to learn how to do these things for themselves. Also, the availability of TV
programs and videos encourages an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle.

Another aspect of this issue is that technology may be good or bad, depending on how we use it.
For instance, dynamite may be used to make road construction easier, or it may be used to kill
people. Again, nuclear reactors can supply huge amounts of cheap electricity, but if they are
carelessly handled they can cause devastating pollution.

We can conclude that the progress of science and technology has both positive and negative
effects. What we must do is to make sure that the positive ones are encouraged and the negative
ones are eliminated as far as possible. Among other things, this means that students are warned not
to let computers and calculators do all their work for them.



Topic 2: There have been many technological developments in the 20th century, for
example, computers and electric power. Choose either of them, describe the changes it has
brought about and discuss whether all the changes are positive.

The 20th century has seen many developments in science and technology. The widely-used
computer serves as the most notable example: Only a few decades ago, people knew very little
about computers, whereas now nearly every work unit or family, at least in cities like Beijing , has
one or more computers. Computers have greatly changed our life.

To begin with, they have made our work easier. Scientists use them to do all sorts of complicated
calculations. Ordinary people gain easy access to the information they want through the use of
computers. Even children benefit from computers, which can help them with their studies.
Secondly, computers have made our time more flexible. Instead of our work being confined to a
certain period of time and to a fixed place, people can now work while travelling or simply work
at home. This flexibility makes our working lives not only less stressful but also more efficient.
Thirdly, computers have made our life more interesting. We can now make friends with people all
over the world through the Internet, and feel that we are now living in a global village.

However, as the old saying goes, “Every coin has two sides”, computers also give rise to a number
of problems. They may refuse to work if there is a breakdown because of a virus or a technical
failure. When people become too dependent on computers, they will not be able to function when
computers are not available. Worst of all, children may get harmful information via the Internet or
become addicted to computer games. All these bad effects call for our special concern.

All in all, I would say that computers bring us more benefits than problems. If properly used,
computers are essential for improving life in the 21st century。

Topic 3: More than three decades ago, man for the first time set foot on the moon. Some
people think that space research is a waste of energy and money. Discuss.

It has been over thirty years since man's first landing on the moon, and his fascination with outer
space has a much longer history than that. Some people believe that this type of study is a sheer
waste of time and money. However, this issue has both pros and cons, and it should not be judged
one-sidedly, in my opinion. 

On the one hand, it indeed requires a great deal of time and money to train people to carry out
research and experiment in this sphere, to put the research into actual practice, and to sustain
countless test failures. In addition, doubtlessly the time and money spent on space research and
exploration is hard to calculate, as it is carried out by several nations. From this perspective, the
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research in question can be considered a waste of time, money and resources. the other hand,
however, once the research findings are transformed into productivity, we will see the situation in
a different light. For example, knowledge of other planets and stars may make possible the
colonization of space. At that time, the expenditure that seems so wasteful now will serve to
expand and extend the scope of human existence. Currently, the progress made by scientists who
have dedicated much time and energy to this research has demonstrated this point clearly and
forcefully.

In short, it truly takes a lot of time and money to carry out studies of outer space, for such research
tests man's intelligence, patience and perseverance to the utmost, long before any concrete results
are visible. Nevertheless, people of vision will indubitably recognize the abundant benefits to be
reaped once the research is completed and its findings are put into production.

Topic 4: Some people think that the use of computers should be restricted. Do you agree or
disagree?

In this IT age, computer literacy has become a skill required of workers in practically every field.
In some countries, computers have even been introduced into the classrooms of primary schools.
However, some people advocate limiting the use of computers in such classes, arguing that they
might retard children's ability to read, write and calculate. In my opinion, such restriction is totally
unnecessary.
Two or three decades ago, when pocket calculators were popular, some people were concerned
that their use by primary school children might hamper their ability to calculate. But this was not
the case, and it was the children who learned to use pocket calculators at that time who grew up to
design personal computers (PC). As a result, the PC-based Internet has increasingly become an
integrated part of the world, and people can no longer afford to be compute-illiterate.Therefore, it
is clear that the more skillful you are at computer use, the more competent and efficient you will
be. It is imperative to arm young people with computer knowledge as early as possible. To limit
the use of computers by pupils in primary schools is to limit their access to a powerful tool. This
will put these children in an unfavorable position in the future job market when they compete with
others who had been given free access to computers earlier.   

It is hot advisable to insist on using shields and spears when you have guns and tanks, due to the
mere concern that soldiers will be physically less strong. You can still use your mind to think
when you have a computer, and the use of computers and training in writing and calculating are
not mutually exclusive.  

We have always worried about the potentially harmful impact on people, especially children,
posed by the introduction of new technologies. But time after time, such worries have proved to be
unfounded.



Topic 5:Are computers an essential feature of modern education? What subjects can be
better taught using computers? Are there aspects of a good education that cannot be taught
using computers?

Computers are now essential in many areas of life—modern banking, retail and information
exchange among others. However, this is not true for education. At a simple level some subjects
may be better taught using computers, but to explain important concepts a human teacher is still
indispensable.

There are some subjects in which a computer can be used successfully to teach. Elementary
mathematics, elementary language learning, any area which requires a student to memorise basic
facts through repetition is well suited to computer learning. The computer can be programmed to
provide an endless number of simple questions, and as the student answers these questions the
facts are learned and reinforced.

However, in the learning and practice of more complex ideas, the computer is not adequate. A
computer can evaluate an answer as right or wrong, but it cannot determine why. It cannot find out
why a student is making mistakes, and then re_present important concepts in a different way so
the student will understand. It cannot determine at what stage in a mathematics problem the
student has made an error, it can only indicate that the final answer is wrong. Tasks involving
reasoning cannot be taught by computers, as there are too many variables for a computer to deal
with successfully.
Thus, while computers may be useful as a tool for practising simple skills, they are not an
essential feature of modern education, because they cannot monitor a student's grasp of concepts,
nor evaluate a student's reasoning. Until further developments in computers are made the human
teacher will remain indispensable.

Topic 6: Internet is becoming a dominant element in modern life.What are the advantages
and disadvantages of the Internet?

There is a good side and a bad side to everything—and that includes the Internet. As the latest
product of the “technological revolution”, the Internet has ushered in a new era of global
information. Nevertheless, along with conveniences, it has brought mankind new problems to
solve.

There is no denying that the Internet can vastly improve the efficiency of scientific research; it
allows scientists swift access to all the data and research findings in their fields available
worldwide. Moreover, as information is as valuable as any material resource, anyone who has
access to the Internet has a competitive advantage in business over those who don't. Last but not
least, the Internet has made personal communication both more convenient and more rapid.  

While there is a great deal of enthusiasm nowadays over the advantages of the Internet, its
drawbacks should not be neglected. For one thing, the construction of links to the system requires
a huge amount of investment, which can be a strain on the budget of a developing country. For
another, not all the information available on the Internet is either useful or harmless; subversive
and pornographic items can infiltrate the messages downloaded by people unfamiliar with the
“web”.

But, all in all, I would say that the pros outweigh the cons. As the world economy becomes more
and more closely integrated, any country which falls behind in the “information race”will become
economically backward. The Internet, if properly managed, holds the key to success in the 21st
century.

Topic 7: “Telecommuting” refers to workers doing their jobs from home for part of each
week and communicating with their office using computer technology. Telecommuting is
growing in many countries and is expected to be common for most office workers in the
coming decades.How do you think society will be affected by the growth of telecommuting?

The spread of telecommuting is sure to have far-reaching effects on society. By itself,
telecommuting refers to office workers spending much of their time working at home and using
electronic technologies to communicate with their employers. The broader implications of
telecommuting, however, may involve changes to corporate structure, workers' lifestyles and even
urban planning.

The most obvious changes may be apparent in the “normal”offices of companies, governments
and other organisations. If even half the working week is spent telecommuting from home, then
we would initially expect many empty desks in the office. As offices grow smaller, workers
coming in for the day would be expected to share desks with their absent colleagues. This, in turn,
may affect the social atmosphere of an organisation, however, as less social contact with one's
colleagues could harm morale and loyalty.

For the individual office worker, telecommuting would mean spending more time at home. For a
parent with young children, this may be a blessing. Moreover, many telecommuters would be able
to work the hours they wished: having a nap in the afternoon, for example, but working some
hours in the evening. One substantial benefit for all telecommuting workers is that there will be no
need to travel to work, allowing more free time. 

The structure of urban life is also likely to be affected by telecommuting. We would expect to see
fewer cars on the road during peak hours and, eventually, a smaller concentration of offices in
cities' central business districts. In short, people will have less reason to travel to city centres from
outlying areas. As more people work and live in the same location, shops and cultural events will
likely relocate themselves out of the city centre.  

In sum, telecommuting will serve not only to change the way we work but also the way we live.



Topic 8: Nowadays surveillance cameras are widely used in supermarkets. Some think that
this is a violation of human rights, while others insist that they are for the benefit of the
supermarkets. Discuss.

Nowadays supermarkets not only make a lot of money for their owners, they also bring them some
trouble. How can they prevent theft without annoying their customers? The use of surveillance
cameras seems a good solution. But more and more arguments arise with the increasing use of
such cameras. Before giving my opinion, I think it is important to look at the arguments on both
sides.

Those who support using surveillance cameras in supermarkets insist that it is the best way to
protect the owners' interests. Firstly, a camera is more effective than security guards. One camera
can easily cover an area for which 3 or 4 security guards are needed. Secondly, a camera is much
more objective. Sometimes our eyes might deceive us, while a machine can record exactly what
happens. It can prevent much unnecessary embarrassment too.      

On the other hand, some people voice doubts about the installation of surveillance cameras. The
most important reason for their disapproval is that such instruments show distrust of customers.
Customers should not be watched suspiciously as if they were prisoners. Cameras can become
                                                
evidence of a serious violation of human rights.

All in all, the best solution is for both sides to respect each other's needs. The shopkeeper should
place surveillance cameras in such a way that the customer does not feel that he or she is being
spied upon. At the same time, the customer should respect the shopkeeper's concern about theft.
Topic 9:Today PC games are very popular among teenagers. But some parents consider that
these games are not instructive and that teenagers should be kept away from them. What do
you think?

As one of the products of modern technology, PC games have definitely become an indispensable
part of most teenagers' lives. Statistics show that teenagers are spending more time and money on
entertainment items such as PC games than they did ten years ago. However, in my opinion,
although PC games have certain positive effects such as giving teenagers relaxation and activating
their imaginations, they have certain negative effects. 

First, PC games occupy the time when teenagers should be sitting in the classroom or studying in
the library. The colorful pictures and vivid characters of PC games are far more exciting than the
dull black letters in textbooks. Therefore, addiction to PC games is often accompanied by poor
academic work. Furthermore, far from being instructive, some PC games contain violence and
pornography, which are extremely harmful for the healthy growth of teenagers. It is said that most
juvenile delinquents commit crimes just because their PC game heroes do so in a virtual_reality
world. In addition, speaking from the physical aspect, PC games have contributed a lot to failing
eyesight among teenagers in recent years.  

To sum up, despite their entertainment and relaxation values, PC games interfere with the
education of teenagers. It would be better if teenagers could use such games in a more rational and
controlled way, perhaps under the supervision of their parents.

Topic 10: Some people believe that when a country begins to develop its science and
technology, the traditional technology and methods are bound to die out. Therefore, the
maintenance of the traditional technology and methods is futile. What do you think?

Recently, the issue regarding the future of traditional technology and methods in the midst of the
rapid development of science and technology has been in the limelight. Some people argue that
the traditional technology and methods are bound to die out, hence the futility of maintaining them.
On the other hand, some people firmly believe that the traditional technology and method will
survive the technological revolution. As far as I am concerned, the latter opinion carries more
weight.  

For one thing, being traditional is quite different from being out of date or obsolete. Tradition is
what we inherit from our forefathers, and its being handed down from generation to generation
proves its capacity to survive. It is only those things that have weathered arduous trials time after
time that can be called tradition; otherwise, they are something obsolete.

For another, the survival of traditional technology and methods does not mean that they linger on
in a steadily worsening condition. On the contrary, their existence tends to propel and even
accelerate the development of science and technology. If we compare the development of science
and technology to the construction of a modern building, the traditional technology and methods
can be likened to the foundation. Without a solid foundation, the building is destined to
collapse.
In addition, the development of science and technology originates in traditional technology and
methods. Thus, development itself does not exclude tradition, but requires its assistance.

In a word, development and technological renovation can only be accomplished on the basis of
traditional technology and methods. From what has been discussed above, we may safely arrive at
the conclusion that traditional technology and methods are far from obsolete, and are bound to
contribute more to the development of science and technology.




Teacher’s Reminder:
Please read the essay samples above and choose one format that you can follow most
easily in your own essay writing before you rewrite the essay on the topic of
“students’ freedom to choose lecturers” in last week’s mock exam. The rewritten
version will be submitted before April 25 as required. Thank you.

				
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