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 On 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.