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OVERSEAS EDUCATION: Many people choose to continue their education at colleges or univer

sities in English-speaking countries such as Britain, Australia or America. What are the benefits of studying abroad? What are some of the problems that students might experience when studying in a foreign country? Give reasons for your answer.

(G, A)

Studying overseas has clear advantages, but it is not without its problems.

The main benefits of studying overseas are academic ones. Generally, the standard of education is higher. This is because colleges and universities have up-to-date equipment and other resources. Also, teachers and lecturers are highly skilled professionals who are aware of all the latest developments in their field of interest. A final point is that the qualifications which a student obtains are valid usually anywhere in the world.

As well as the obvious academic benefits, students also gain experience of another culture, improve their language skills and meet many new people. Thus, they develop many interpersonal skills and become more tolerant. They will become more emotionally mature as they deal with living apart from their family. This helps their personal development as they become more independent.

Although in some cases, there are some negative effects. Most importantly, if students are not properly prepared academically before they go abroad, they have difficulties following lectures or writing assignments. Furthermore, young students may have problems adjusting to new culture and could experience loneliness and homesickness. A final problem could be that they adapt so much to Western culture that they haven problems readjusting when they finally return home.

Other possible problems are difficulties in adjusting to a different climate, different food, and different lifestyle. With appropriate preparation and support most students should be able to avoid or overcome these obstacles.

However, in general, I consider the advantages of an overseas education are much greater than any of the disadvantages described above.

(258 words)

TERTIARY EDUCATION: It is sometimes argued that because tertiary education is of greater benefit to the individual than to the society, all students should pay full fees. What is your opinion? (A)

As the modern world is becoming increasingly complex and knowledge is becoming more and more specialized, there is no doubt that tertiary education is necessary both for the whole world and for individuals who want to ensure that they have a good profession. The question of who benefits more is important to society and governments in deciding who should be expected to pay for the costs involved. This is a difficult question.

There is no doubt that the whole society benefits. In all developing countries there has been a strong effort to raise the educational level of the society by investing as much money as possible into providing educational institutions. Universities and colleges are, however, expensive to run. Because of this, it is felt that such countries are held back in all forms of development. Without enough educated professionals such as doctors, teachers, scientists and engineers, developing countries cannot move ahead.

Governments in such countries provide scholarships, or free education, to as many students as they can afford, because they realize that the whole country will benefit. Many developed countries also try to offer free tertiary education because they want a highly educated population.

However, there is also a strong argument that individuals benefit so much from tertiary education that they be expected to pay for it. Doctors, lawyers, accountants and engineers have some of the highest incomes in most societies. People argue that the government, and therefore the tax payers, should not pay for students who will later earn more than anyone else. Moreover, most students come from the middle classes, and their parents can afford to pay for their fees. There are, of course, some students who cannot afford to pay. This problem can be overcome by a system like the one being used in Australia, for example. The government gives the students a loan to pay for their fees, and later, when they are earning a good salary, they repay the loan.

It is probably impossible to decide whether the individuals or the society benefits more from the tertiary education, but since both benefit, the costs should probably paid for both equally.

(355 words)

PETS: In Western countries, people spend a lot of money on their pets. They buy special food for their dogs or cats, buy them toys and often pay fees for medical treatment. Some people think pets are a waste of money, and argue that pets are dirty and dangerous. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a pet? Do people spend too much money on pets? Give reasons for your answer. (G)

In many Western homes people keep a dog or cat or some other kind of pet. While this does involve some expense in terms of good food and medical treatment, there are still many advantages to keeping a pet.

First of all, pets are good companions. This is especially important for people who live alone and for older people who do not go out much. Some pets can also help to protect the house from thieves. Secondly, dogs and cats like to play and can give hours of amusement to children and adults. Taking care of an animal also helps children to develop responsible attitudes and to learn about nature. Finally, the actual expense of keeping an animal is not that high, and they can eat the leftovers of family meals.

Some people claim pets are dirty. I do not think this is altogether true. Responsible pet owners keep their pets clean and healthy so they do not smell bad. People also say that certain pets, like large dogs, can be dangerous. There have been cases of dogs attacking and seriously injuring small children. These people either don’t train their dogs properly or actually encourage them to be aggressive. So, the problems of pets being unclean or dangerous in fact are the problems of the owners. Not the pets themselves.

To sum up, there are more advantages than disadvantages to keeping a pet, especially for lonely people and children. In most cases, therefore, the cost is justified.

(247 words)

MUSIC: There are many different types of music in the world today. Is the traditional music of

a country more important than the international music that is heard everywhere nowadays? (G)

There are many types of music in the world today. The argument of whether a country's traditional music is more important than the international music heard everywhere, has two clear sides.

On one hand, preserving traditional music is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, traditional music helps to keep cultures alive by reminding people of what makes them unique. Secondly, the music of different cultures adds diversity and beauty to the world. An example from New Zealand is Maori and Pacific Island music; the words and style identify it as belonging specifically to those cultures.

On the other hand, globalisation makes it easier to access music from different countries. As a result, the blending of different styles, rhythm and beats occurs. For example, Polynesian youth blend rap, hip-hop and Afro-American styles with a uniquely Pacific flavour. Music, like language, doesn’t remain ‘pure’. In order to survive, it changes and adapts to the world around it.

However, either different musical instruments or language usually differentiates the music of one culture from another. I believe that no matter how small the global village becomes, music will still carry the flavour of the culture it originally came from.

To conclude, I believe that as it is important for cultures to adapt and change to survive, so it is important for music to do the same. This doesn’t necessarily mean that music will become the same, but rather that it will continue to reflect changes in culture.

(244 words)

TELEVISION: Television has had a significant influence on the culture of many societies. To what extent would you say that television has positively or negatively affected the cultural development of your society? (G)

It has been around forty years since television was first introduced into Australian households and people today still have mixed views on whether it has a positive or a negative influence on the society.

Many people believe that television damages culture. It promotes the stronger cultures of countries such as Britain and North America and weakens the cultures of less wealthy countries. This is because the stronger, wealthier countries are able to assert their own culture by producing more programs that are shown widely around the world. These programs then influence people, particularly young people, in the countries where they are shown.

Also, because television networks need to attract large audiences to secure their financial survival, they must produce programs which are interesting to a broad range of people. In Australia this range is very broad because we are a multicultural society and people of all ages like to watch television. To interest all these different people, most television programs are short in length, full of action and excitement, do not require much intelligence or knowledge to understand, and follow universal themes common to all cultures, such as love and crime. Television programs which concentrate on or develop themes pertinent to one particular culture are not so successful because they interest a smaller audience.

Nevertheless we much acknowledge that television does have some positive effects on the cultures within a society as well. People who do not live within their own culture can, in a limited way, access it through the multicultural station on the television. For example, Aboriginal children who have grown up in white families, or migrants and international students living in Australia, can watch programs from their own culture on the television.

In conclusion, I hold the view that television promotes and strengthens those cultures that are wealthy and influential while it weakens the cultures that are already in a weakened position.

(315 слов)

BROADCAST: News editors decide what to broadcast on television and what to print in newspapers.

What factors do you think influence these decisions? Do we become used to bad news?

_____ Would it be better if more good news was reported? (G, A)____________________________________

It has often been said that “Good news is bad news” because it does not sell newspapers. A radio station that once decided to present only good news soon found that it had gone out of business for lack of listeners. Bad news on the other hand is so common that in order to cope with it, we often simply ignore it. We have become immune to bad news and the newspapers and radio stations are aware of this.

While newspapers and TV stations may aim to report world events accurately, be they natural or human disasters, political events or the horrors of war, it is also true that their main objective is to sell newspapers and attract listeners and viewers to their stations. For this reason TV and radio stations attempt to reflect the flavour of their station by providing news broadcasts tailor- made to suit their listeners’ preferences. Programmes specialising in pop music or TV soap operas focus more on local news, home issues and up-to-date traffic reports. The more serious stations and newspapers like to provide so-called objective news reports with editorial comment aimed at analysing the situation.

If it is true, then, that newspapers and TV stations are tailoring their news to their readers’ and viewers’ requirements how can they possibly be reporting real world events in an honest and objective light? Many radio and TV stations do; in fact, report items of good news but they no longer call this news. They refer to these as human interest stories and package them in programmes specialising, for instance, in consumer affairs or local issues. Good news now comes to us in the form of documentaries the fight against children’s cancer or AIDS, or the latest developments in the fight to save the planet from environmental pollution.

_______________________________________________________________________________ (299 words)

MASS MEDIA: 'The media plays a valuable role in keeping us informed and entertained. However, many people believe it has too much power and freedom. Discuss your views on this, giving examples and presenting a balanced argument both in favour of, and against, the _____________________________________________________________________________ power and freedom of the media.'________________________________________________________________________

Barely a hundred years ago, if we wanted to stay informed about what was going on in the world, we had to rely on word of mouth or, at best, newspapers. But because communication technology was very basic, the news we received was often days or weeks old. We still have newspapers, of course, but they have changed almost beyond recognition. Whether we choose to read the broadsheets with their quality coverage of news and other current affairs by top reporters and articles by acclaimed journalists or if we prefer the popular tabloids with their lively gossip and colourful stones, we are exposed to a wealth of information barely conceivable at the beginning of the last century.

We also have television and radio. News broadcasts let us know about world events practically as they happen, while sitcoms, chat shows and documentaries, etc. keep us entertained and informed. And there is also the Internet, where we can access information from millions of websites around the world which we can then download onto our own computers.

However, these forms of information and entertainment (or ‘Infotainment' as they are now sometimes collectively called) have their negative side. Famous personalities frequently accuse the gutter press (and sometimes even respectable papers) of invasion of privacy by the paparazzi who are determined to get a story at any cost. Newspapers are often accused of libel by angry politicians who dislike reading lies about themselves, and there are frequent accusations of chequebook journalism with unscrupulous reporters paying people to create stories for their newspapers or television programmes. Of course, it is not just the papers which are to blame. Sex and violence are increasing on the television. Undesirable people fill the web with equally undesirable material which can be accessed by anyone with a home computer. And the fear of information overload prevents many from logging on to the Internet.

Many argue that the government should impose stricter censorship to prevent such things happening. But others argue that freedom of press is the keystone of a free country. Personally, I take the view that while the media may occasionally abuse its position of power, the benefits greatly outweigh the disadvantages. Our lives would be much emptier without the wealth of information available to us today, and we are better people as a result.

(386 words)

CENSORSHIP: “Censorship is necessary in modern society”. Discuss. (G, A)_________________________

Censorship is an issue which frequently generates a great deal of heated debate, with supporters maintaining that it is vital in order to protect society, whilst opponents claim that it is an unjustifiable restriction of public access to information.

Firstly, all countries have secrets which must be safeguarded for reasons of national security. For instance, if an enemy country were to acquire such highly sensitive information, the effects could be catastrophic. Consequently, governments have to have the power to restrict access to information concerning areas such as the armed forces or particular aspects of foreign policy. Secondly, it is often argued that censorship is necessary to prevent the broadcast and publication of obscene material which is considered offensive or harmful to public morals.

Many people feel that, without censorship the public would be constantly subjected to material that the majority would find offensive. For this reason, the government has a duty to impose certain restrictions on the mass media by censoring films and texts which contain explicit scenes of sex, violence or foul language.

In contrast, opponents of censorship point out that when it is abused by governments, censorship becomes an instrument used to misinform society and maintain power. In order to control the flow of information which riches the public, repressive regimes try to put constraints on the media, thus denying citizens the right to information owing to the fact that governments believe it may lead them to seek greater freedom.

Furthermore, it is generally felt that mature adults are able to make informed choices about what they watch, read and listen to and should, therefore, be permitted to make their own decisions. For example, some comedians make use of offensive language taboo subjects in their performances. Critics of censorship argue that the only people who will watch or listen to such material are adults who have made a conscious decision to do so. Thus, it is claimed, it is unjust to censor material like this since it is not forced upon people who may subsequently be offended by it.

All things considered, it can be concluded that a certain degree of censorship is always necessary. The best course of action would be to attempt to achieve a balance between the requirements of the country and the public on the one hand, and individuals’ rights on the other.

(389 words)

SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE: Many of the diseases which afflict people who do the office jobs are the direct result of a sedentary lifestyle. Do you agree? (G)________________________________________________________________

Although it is true that a sedentary life is not good for people’s health, it would be far-fetched to suggest that doing an office job is directly responsible for the diseases which afflict office workers.

A sedentary lifestyle may indeed lead to high blood pressure and heart attacks, but people often balance the hours they spend sitting at a desk by joining fitness clubs where they can exercise or play sport. These clubs encourage their members to watch their diet and to take part in physical activities: for instance, a fitness club may be affiliated with another sporting body like a rowing club. People who do not want to join these clubs will often take walks during their lunch hour, or even jog. The very fact that they do these things means that they have a sedentary job, but not a sedentary lifestyle.

One might ask, what are the diseases that afflict office workers which do not afflict other people? It is very hard to think of an illness which is peculiar to office workers. They are prone to the same diseases as everyone else, and are protected from many of the hazards which afflict other workers. Working at a desk is far safer than mining or being a professional racing car driver, and is more comfortable than either.

It seems to be fair to say that, although an office worker spends a lot of time sitting down, he or she does not have to have a sedentary lifestyle. I cannot agree that the office worker is doomed to disease simply because he or she is an office worker.

(269 words)

TOURISM: Tourism is becoming increasingly important as a source of revenue to many countries but its disadvantages should not be overlooked. (A)_____________________________________________________________

Faster planes and cheaper flights are making it easier than ever before for people to travel. In most 'developed' societies, visiting exotic places is a sought-after status symbol. The tourism industries of both developed and developing countries have recognised this fact and are learning to take advantage of it.

There are, however, some problems associated with this new industry. Firstly, there is the increasing crime rate. Some locals see tourists as easy prey because, not only are they in unfamiliar territory and therefore less able to take care of themselves, but also they carry visible items of wealth, such as cameras and jewellery which can be disposed of quickly for a profit.

Another major problem is health. With greater mobility comes greater danger of spreading contagious diseases around the world. One carrier returning home could easily start an epidemic before their illness was diagnosed. Moreover, the emergence of many more diseases which resist antibiotics is causing scientists to be increasingly concerned about this issue.

Also to be considered is the natural environment, which can be seriously threatened by too many visitors. Australia's Great Barrier Reef, for example, is in danger of being destroyed by tourists and there are plans to restrict visitors to some of the more delicate coral cays.

These are just three of the reasons why any country should be wary of committing itself to an extensive tourism development program.

(232 words)

THE INTERNET: The Internet has provided great benefits, but at the same time it has also created new dangers and inequalities. Is it possible to control some of these problems? (G, A)

No-one can deny that the Internet has revolutionised much of society. Individuals benefit from access to almost endless amounts of information on the World Wide Web, as well as being able to communicate easily and cheaply with friends and strangers. For the business world the impact has been more dramatic. Vast sums of money are constantly being instantly transferred around the world by electronic means. Banks and other businesses now totally depend on the Internet.

There are, however, significant dangers in this development. The first problem that most people think of is the danger of hackers invaliding the system and either obtaining secret information or introducing viruses that cause immense damage. It is unlikely that this problem can ever be completely solved. As soon as this technology is developed to overcome one hacker, another one produces some new methods.

Apart from this technical problem, however, there is a much deeper one, and that is the inequality between individuals and societies, which the Internet is making worse. The gap between the rich and the poor is growing rapidly in the world, and access to the internet is a significant part of the problem. Developing countries where schools cannot afford computers, and small businesses which do not have Internet access are being left further and further behind.

Some people believe that if computers are widely distributed in poor societies, this would be an important way to reduce the inequalities. Others feel that the problem is much deeper, and needs to be dealt with by bodies such as the World Trade Organisations.

The answer probably is that all possible methods should be used to break down the inequalities, including access to the Internet, to ensure that the world does not become more and more unstable.

(292 words)

TECHNOLOGY: Technology has come a long way in the last fifty years, and our lives have become better _ as a result. О have they?__________________________________________________________________________________

The second half of the twentieth century saw more changes than in the previous two hundred years.

Penicillin has already been discovered and used to treat infections; there have been many remarkable advances in medicine that have helped to increase our average life expectancy way beyond that of our ancestors. Incredible innovations such as television have changed the way we spend our leisure hours. Perhaps the most important breakthrough, however, has been the microchip. Nobody could have imagined, when it was first invented, that within a matter of years, this tiny piece of silicon and circuitry - would be found in almost every household object from the kettle to the video recorder. And nobody could have predicted the sudden proliferation of computers that would completely change our lives, allowing us to access information from the other side of the world via the Internet or send messages around the world by e-mail at the touch of a button.

Meanwhile, research into other aspects of information technology is making it easier and cheaper for us to talk to friends and relations around the world. Good news for technophiles who love modern technology, bad news for the technophobes who would prefer to hide from these modern miracles.

But everything has a price. The development of cybernetics led to mass automation in factories, which in turn led to millions losing their jobs. The genius of Einstein led to the horrors of the atomic bomb and the dangerous uncertainties of nuclear engineering (we hear of accidents and mishaps at nuclear power stations around the world, where safeguards to prevent accidents were inadequate). The relatively new science of genetic engineering has been seen as a major step forward, but putting modified foods onto the market before scientists had properly analysed them was perhaps one of the most irresponsible decisions of the 1990s.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies continue to experiment on animals, a move that many consider to be cruel and unnecessary.

Of course we all rely on modern science and technology to improve our lives. However, we need to make sure that we can control it before it controls us.

(353 words)

COMPUTERS: Computer technology benefits modern society in many ways, but its disadvantages should not be overlooked. Discuss these disadvantages and briefly give your opinion on how they may affect us in the future. (G, A)

It is certainly true that communication has changed rapidly this century, particularly over the last few years. Even international contact, for example, can be made at the touch of a button using fax or e-mail. More and more people spend more and more time in front of computer screens, both at work and in their leisure time. Those who say that such technology has an entirely positive effect should ask themselves if there are any dangers or disadvantages to this new lifestyle.

There are quite serious health consequences of a sedentary life in front of a computer - the most obvious being eye strain. Sitting at a computer screen for long periods of time is generally unhealthy, as the individual does not get any exercise. However, it is the social consequences that are the most alarming. The computer and the internet have made direct human contact less and less necessary. People have the illusion of community through the web, when in fact there is no such community. Nothing can replace real contact with real people in real streets. We contact people by e-mail because it is convenient to us - this is not the same as a natural relationship, which may be anything but convenient. We understand others only through what they write in e-mails, which is not the same as reading the subtle changes in emotion on a person's face. We may find in the future that people find human relationships too inconvenient and confusing, and prefer to stay with virtual friends rather than real ones.

In the rush to make life more convenient, we must be careful not to lose our humanity. Although the benefits of computer technology are extremely tempting, we need to analyse whether it is actually improving our quality of life, or making our lives faster but more soulless.

(304 words)

TELECOMMUTING: '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? (A)

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 from home and using electronic technologies to communicate with their employees. 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 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.

(262 words)

WORTHWHILE JOBS: Some people live to work and others work to live. In most cases,

this depends on the job they have and the conditions under which they are employed. In your opinion, what are the elements that make a job worthwhile?________________________________________________________________________

In answering this question, I would like to look first at the elements that combine to make a job undesirable. By avoiding such factors, potential employees are more likely to find a job that is more worthwhile, and by doing so, hope to achieve happiness in their work.

First of all, it doesn't matter if you are an unskilled worker cleaning the floor, a semi-skilled blue-collar worker on a production line in one of the manufacturing industries or a white-collar worker in a bank, shop or one of the other service industries: if you lack job security, with the knowledge that you might lose your job at any time, you will never feel happy. Everybody would like a steady job in which he or she is guaranteed work. Nowadays, however, companies have a high turnover of staff, hiring new staff and firing others on a weekly basis. Such companies are not popular with their workers.

The same can be said of a job in which you are put under a lot of stress and worry, a job which is so demanding that it takes over your life, a job where you work unsociable hours and so never get to see your family or friends, or a physical job in which you do the same thing every day and end up with the industrial disease that is always in the papers nowadays-repetitive strain injury.

With all these negative factors, it would be difficult to believe that there are any elements that make a job worthwhile. Money is, of course, the prime motivator, and everybody wants a good salary or wages. But of course that is not all. The chance of promotion, of being given a better position in a company, is a motivating factor. Likewise, perks such as a free lunch or a company car, an incentive scheme to make you work hard such as a regular increment above the rate of inflation, sickness benefit in case you fail ill and a company pension scheme so that you have some money when you retire all combine to make a job worthwhile.

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to find all of these. There is, however, an alternative. Forget the office and the factory floor and become self-employed and work for yourself. Your future may not be secure, but at least you will be happy.

(393 words)

WORK STRESS: What are the causes of work stress and how could such stress be reduced? (G, A)

For many years it has been recognised that stress at the work place not only increases the risk of employees developing heart disease and other circulatory problems but also reduces their efficiency and their ability to respond flexibly to the demands of their jobs. Traditionally this problem was thought to affect mostly men in managerial positions. However, there is growing evidence that the number of stress-related illnesses in women has been rising in recent years as women have achieved more equality with men at work and have begun to occupy more and more positions of responsibility. This essay will argue that the solution to this problem is better training.

In order to reduce the amount of stress at work or at least to help people cope better with stress, we need first to understand what causes stress. A recent survey in the United States of Corporate Executive Officers' (CEO) and their partners' perceptions of the causes of stress in the CEO's lifestyle found that the factor most frequently mentioned by CEO's was time pressure and deadlines whereas those most often reported by their spouses were long working hours and the demands of work on family relationships.

This would seem to suggest three things: firstly, that many people are not aware of the true causes of stress; secondly, that work-related stress may lead to more stress at home through conflicts with partners and children, thus creating a vicious circle from which it becomes increasingly difficult to break free; and thirdly, that stress is very often the result of bad decisions rather than lack of material or human resources.

One solution to this problem might be to train people, especially men, to get in closer touch with their feelings and to become more aware of the real causes of conflicts both at work and in the home. This could be done by providing a weekly confidential counselling service for employees who were perceived to be under too much pressure. This would provide people with a safe place in which to express their feelings and to reflect upon what they could do to improve everything from personal relationships to eating habits and sleeping patterns. It seems obvious that an unhappy boss will make life more difficult for his or her subordinates; but so far very few companies have taken this idea on board by doing something practical to improve relationships at the work place.

Another solution would be for companies to provide managers with more training courses in basic skills such as time management and knowing when to delegate responsibilities. One of the reasons why many managers at present find it so difficult to take advantage of company training courses is that they are already overloaded with work and are unable to assimilate any more information.

In conclusion, it would seem that companies are not doing enough to address the problem of stress-related illnesses. However, even if profits are a company's only real concern, it makes sense to look after employees' physical and psychological well-being - if only because most experts now agree that this is the best way to increase productivity and remain competitive. Successful companies are run by healthy employees.

(529 words)

SMOKING: Smoking should be banned both inside and outdoors. Do you agree? (G, A)

The Australian Cancer Society estimates that close to 20,000 Australians die each year as a result of tobacco-related illnesses. Smoking accounts for approximately 21 percent of all male deaths and eight percent of all female deaths.

Because the dangers of smoking are so well-known, there is a strong argument for outlawing it. Some people would like to see smoking banned from all public places, even outdoors. This essay will argue that smoking should not be banned.

Firstly, civil libertarians would argue that smoking is a personal choice and people who take it up despite all the warnings only have themselves to blame. It could also be said that the sanctions against smoking have gone too far, and that smokers are being treated like second-class citizens. Added to this, anti-smoking campaigners seem to have ignored the fact that most smokers would quit if they could. Nicotine is said to be even more addictive than heroin. Most smokers have to make several attempts before successfully giving up.

The rights of non-smokers have been paramount over the past few years with cigarettes being banned from most public places. However, smoking is an easy source of tax dollars - some $3,5 billion a year in Australia - and if it were banned, a major source of government revenue would go with it. Non-smokers would have to make up the difference.

Smokers pay billions of dollars in additional taxes to support their habit and it can be argued that the higher taxes that the smokers pay are offset by the extremely high costs of treating smoking-related illnesses, but only a percentage of this is spent on health care.

Lastly, others feel that governments should be in business of harm minimization and that they have a social obligation. Yet, they are condoning - and profiting from - a known killer. However, the bottom line is that smoking is a personal choice and how much control should governments have over our lives?

(323 words)

COSTS FOR HEALTH CARE: The costs of medical health care are increasing all the time. Governments are finding it difficult to balance the health care budget. Should citizens be totally responsible for their own health costs and take out private health insurance, or is it better to have a comprehensive health care system which provides free health services for all? Discuss.

(A)

A much debated issue these days is whether citizens should take out private health insurance or not. The cost of providing free medical care for both the wealthy and the poor is far too great for any government, and most people agree that if you can pay for insurance, you should. In this essay, I will argue that all who can afford it should be insured, but free medical care must be made available for those too poor to do so.

The most important reason for encouraging people to take out private health insurance is the cost to the government of health care. Free health cover for people who are able to pay for it is a waste of public money. Of course, people will only pay health insurance premiums if they know that they are getting good value for their money. If they get sick, they should pay very little or nothing at all. In addition, the privately insured are entitled to special benefits such as having the choice of their own doctors, and being able to avoid long waiting lists for hospital beds.

On the other hand, those who really cannot afford to pay private insurance premiums, which are often very high, are still entitled as citizens to the best medical care available - they cannot be expected to pay their own medical bills. However, if they are working, they should still pay a percentage of their wage (say 1 to 2%) as a tax which pays towards the cost of providing ‘free’ medical services.

In conclusion, most people should privately insure their health, but it is unreasonable to suppose that all citizens can afford it. Therefore, a safety net in the form of a basic free health care system must exist for the very poor and the unemployed.

(301 words)

PROBLEMS OF THE ELDERLY: “What could be done to improve the lives of the elderly?” (G)

For many elderly people the latter part of their life is not a time to relax and enjoy retirement, but rather a difficult and unhappy period, owing to financial worries, failing health and loneliness. As life expectancy increases, the average person lives well beyond the age of retirement. As a result, the elderly make up an ever-increasing percentage of society, which makes it more important than ever for a real effort to be made in improving the lives of senior citizens.

One way to deal with the situation would be to ensure that the elderly have enough money on which to live. Obviously, when a person stops working, they still require a source of income to cover their basic needs such as food, accommodation and heating. A clear solution to the problem is for the government to make sure that the state pension is adequate for these needs. Furthermore, free financial advice should be made available to retired people so that the stress of worrying about money could be reduced as far as possible.

Steps should also be taken to overcome problems the elderly face as a result of deteriorating health due to old age, and inadequate health-care provisions. Again, the responsibility should fall to the government to provide access to the best health care available, which may necessitate paying for residential homes where the elderly can have round-the-clock nursing, or, at the very least, providing medication free of charge to all people over a certain age. As a result, old people would enjoy not only better health, but also peace of mind from the knowledge that they need not fear falling ill and being unable to pay for treatment.

The lives of old people could also be improved if attempts were made to address the problem of social isolation which so many of them face. If we organised trips for the elderly to community centers, visits from social workers or free bus passes to allow pensioners greater mobility, the effect would be alleviate the problem of loneliness which marks the lives of so many old people living alone far from their families.

One final suggestion, which would help enormously, is to change the attitude of the community towards its older members, who are all too often seen as a burden on society and dismissed as having little to do with modern life. We need to be taught from an early age to respect the views of old people, and appreciate their broader experience of life. This would help society as a whole, and encourage appreciation of the role that old people can still play today.

To sum up, there are several measures which could be taken to improve the lives of old people. If the government and individuals alike were to help, it would make retirement and old age a time to look forward to, rather than dread.

(479 words)

GENDER ROLES: 'Men and women are, and always will be, different in -the way they behave

and are treated'. Do you agree with this statement?________________________________________________

A totally egalitarian society, in which sexual equality between men and women is the norm, is still a long way off. This is certainly the case if you watch television, where men are often portrayed as the breadwinner bringing money home to the wife, who is usually depicted as the weaker sex, prone to extreme emotions and temper tantrums. But is this really the case? Is it still fair to create stereotypes such as this?

After all, as more women go out to work and more men stay at home to look after the house and the kids, it is quite clear that so-called gender roles are merging and disappearing.

Take the office workplace as an example. For years, businesses and companies were male- dominated - the directors, managers and businessmen were always men, the secretaries and personal assistants always female. This was probably because men have traditionally been seen as more ruthless, more able to deal with the cut-and-thrust of business.

But now women are proving that they can be equally tough, while simultaneously being more astute and caring. In fact, in many ways, women are more multi-faceted than men, a vital aspect of modern business where you are expected to do more than just one job. And thanks to the Sex Discrimination Act women are paid the same as men. It would appear that, in many cases, the male chauvinist is a dying breed.

At home, too, there is less evidence of role division. It is no longer the woman who does all the cooking and cleaning and child-rearing. Such household management is now often shared equally. Social convention no longer requires the woman to stay indoors all day while the man stays out until all hours. Whether this is due to the struggle by the militant feminists in the 1960s and 1970s or whether it is due to a natural shift in attitudes is unclear.

What is clear, however, is that women no longer feel they need to be regarded as sex objects, the underdogs in a battle of sexes with their male counterparts. In fact, many believe that in the power struggle, it is women who have come out on top.

_______________________________________________________________________________ (364 words)

GENDER DISCRIMINATION: “Although the position of women in society today has improved, there is still a great deal of sexual discrimination.” Do you agree? (G, A)

Throughout this century, the role of women within society has changed, and the majority of people feel that this change is for the better. More women work than ever before, and it is accepted in Western culture that many women now have careers. Nonetheless, in my opinion there is still a great deal of sexual equality has been achieved is not altogether accurate.

To begin with, many women find it very difficult to return to work after having children. The main reason for this is that there are rarely any provisions made for childcare in the workplace and, in these cases, women are forced to find someone to look after the children while they are at work. Obviously, this can prove to be a time-consuming and expensive process, yet it must be done if mothers are to be able to resume their careers.

Secondly, the traditional views of the position of women within society are so deeply ingrained that they have not really changed. For instance, not only is the view that women should stay at home and look after their family still widely held, but it is reinforced through images seen on television programmes and advertisements. An example of this is that few men are ever seen doing housework on television, since this is traditionally thought of as “a woman’s job”.

Thirdly, since families often need two incomes in order to enjoy a good standard of living, a woman finds herself doing two jobs: one at home and one at the office. So, it could be said that a woman’s position has, in fact, deteriorated rather than improved, with the result that women carry the burdens of equality but get none of the benefits.

In contrast, there are some people who claim that the problem of sexual discrimination no longer exists. They point out that women do, after all, have legal rights intended to protect them from discrimination. In addition, a few women are now beginning to reach top positions as judges, business leaders and politicians, while a number of other previously all-male professions are opening their ranks to women. Nonetheless, these examples are not the norm and discrimination is still very much with us.

Taking these points into consideration, I would say that the position of women has improved only slightly. While, rules and laws have changed, it is the deep-rooted opinions of people within society which are taking a longer time to evolve. Needless to say, until these attitudes have changed, sexual discrimination will remain a problem which we all need to face and fight against.

(429 words)

ECOLOGY: Man’s agricultural and industrial activities are destroying our Planet. Do you agree?

(A)

Many people believe that human beings are destroying the planet Earth. I have to agree with this statement and I believe there is plenty of evidence for it if we look at some of man's agricultural and industrial practices. In addition, the use of nuclear energy further increases the danger to the world.

Man's agricultural practices are severely damaging the environment. The incorrect use of land causes the formation of deserts; this is a particularly serious problem in Australia and the USA. Diversion of water from lakes and rivers for irrigation can also cause severe problems. The use of water from the Aral Sea is an example of this.

Industrial wastes have caused critical pollution of water and the atmosphere. Atmospheric pollution has resulted in the 'greenhouse effect' — a phenomenon that is resulting in a dangerous increase in the temperature of the world. Similarly chemical pollution is damaging the ozone layer of the Earth. This results in dangerous ultraviolet rays entering the Earth's atmosphere.

Nuclear power also poses serious problems. One nuclear bomb can have devastating long-term effects. Even if nuclear power is used for peaceful purposes, the wastes arc so toxic and so long-lasting that we are endangering the lives of generations to come. The Chernobyl catastrophe is one of the examples.

Some people may think that improved technology will solve the problems of the Earth. Others believe that man will eventually learn to cooperate and use resources intelligently. However, I think this is naive, wishful thinking, and from all the evidence man is destroying the Earth.

(254 words)

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Источник: Саливон А.Б., Рева Н.И.. ГОТОВИМСЯ К СДАЧЕ ЭКЗАМЕНА IELTS: Writing Essays: учебно-методическое пособие. - Владивосток: Изд-во ВГУЭС, 2008. - 70 с.. 2008

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