Topic 1: Increasing travels between countries enable people to learn different cultures or to increase tension between people from different countries?
Globalisation is a catch-all term that refers to any activity that involves more than one country, for example, travel from one country to another. The dramatic increase in transnational travel in recent years has sparked controversy over the potential impacts of this trend on individual countries, especially those new member states of globalisation. Some people are concerned that the upsurge in new arrivals will prompt local hostility against visitors, instead of promoting their understanding on mutual cultural background. This notion should be rejected as one can see many facts in favour of this development between countries.
The first reason why international travels would never bring conflict is rooted in the fact that both visitors and locals are economically motivated. International travel opens up opportunities for business development throughout the world. Entrepreneurs are interested not only in the domestic market but also in the overseas market. Foreigners should learn the culture of a country before winning over the local people. In turn, locals should show their hospitality to visitors in exchange for their trust. They share a view that acceptance of each other’s cultural background is a necessary condition for cooperation.
Understanding a culture has other implications. Differences in social background, cultural values and religious belief might make the discrepancy of foreigners and local inhabitants on some issues indelible; however, the higher interaction, the higher level of communication and understanding. Arabians, for example, used to consider westerners as their foes. Now they have concrete relations with their western allies in many fields. In the initial stage, their divergence seemed inherent but over time, with better mutual understanding, they take the same position on many issues.
Undeniably, it is likely that in some resorts, foreign visitors repel the local community with their scant regard for the local environment and conventions when they first arrive. However, it should be noted that most offense is accidental, rather than intentional. Instead, visitors disobey rules and conventions simply because they have no knowledge of them. This situation is expected to be improved with the passing of time when visitors from different countries increase their knowledge of a local culture.
According to the above analysis, we can observe that the increase in the international travel should not be taken as the cause of any conflict that arises between two countries. Alternatively, one should recognise its role in improving mutual understanding between two countries.
- catch-all = all-embracing
- hostility = enmity = resentment
- rooted in = derived from = based on
- entrepreneur = tycoon = mogul = industrialist
- discrepancy = disagreement = difference = divergence
- foe = enemy = rival
- concrete = tangible = solid
- over time = in due course = sooner or later
- resort; tourist resort; holiday resort; beach resort; scenic spot; place of interest
- repel = revolt = repulse
- scant = limited = scarce
Topic 2: When international media (including movies, fashion shows, advertisements and other TV programmes) convey the same messages to the global audience, people argue that the expansion of international media has negative impacts on cultural diversity. What is your opinion?
As international media companies expand across the world, the growing popularity and uniformity of some media programmes (such as TV shows, movies, fashion shows) is causing worldwide concern. Many people have strong views toward this trend. In my opinion, international media is closely linked to cultural globalisation and cultural homogeneity.
The dominance of international media is a sign of Western cultural imperialism and has the potential to thwart cultural diversity. It is not a secret that international media is owned and operated by a handful of giant corporations, such as Time Warner. They control large sectors of the media market and place national media companies at risk. The contraction in the number of media owners will cause a proportional reduction in the variety of programmes broadcasted. For example, painting, music and movies accessible in the media have a small number of genres, imposing restraints on one’s knowledge of artworks of different cultural backgrounds.
In addition to seizing control over those creative industries, global entertainment companies affect cultural diversity by reshaping the perceptions, beliefs and norms of ordinary citizens in different countries. Most of the cultural values and ideals promoted by the leading mainstream media are of American origin. American culture values individuality, maximisation of one’s benefits and material wealth, rather than communal life and family solidarity, the values and norms previously treasured in many Asian countries. Unfortunately, many Asian people now imitate American people, causing the alteration of their perceptions of family. This radical change can be attributed to those movies and TV programmes that portray the success of American individuals or corporations.
The loss of media diversity is also responsible for people’s narrow sense of ways of life. The ruling class of many countries speaks English, favours Western food, wears Western-style jackets and even prefers Western weddings. Young people are captivated by American basketball and some even daubing the names of NBA stars on their school sweatsuits. All these transformations in life are the result of the audience’s exposure to Hollywood movies, TV shows and sports reports. The loss of media diversity will lead to degradation of culture and to a minimisation of cultural diversity. It is a worrying trend, as people need cultural diversity to preserve and pass on their valuable heritage to future generations, including lifestyle.
As shown above, international media, controlled by a handful of transnational media corporations, is exporting Western culture worldwide and putting many indigenous cultures at the risk of extinction. The uniformity of media programmes has led to that of artworks, norms and ways of life wherever international media goes.
- dominance = domination = power
- sign = symbol = mark = signal = indication
- thwart = prevent = spoil = ruin
- a handful of = a small number of
- contraction = reduction
- proportional = relative
- perception = view = opinion
- ideal = value = belief = principle
- solidarity = unity = harmony = cohesion
- be captivated by = be obsessed with = be passionate about = be addicted to = be keen on = be enthusiastic about
- pass on = give = impart = convey
Topic 3: There is a disagreement on the impact of increased business and culture contact between countries on a country's identity. What is your opinion?
One of the most conspicuous trends in the 21st century is a closer connection between countries, in both economic and cultural aspects. There is a widespread worry that this will lead to the gradual demise of countries’ identities. This issue should be viewed and analysed from multiple perspectives.
When a country tends to develop a closer relationship with the rest of the world, it does not necessarily give up its culture. Culture is not a disgrace to but an asset of a country. An indigenous culture can distinguish one country from others, attracting foreign visitors and yielding high income. As most tourists travel abroad for learning different cultures and sampling different ways of life, such as Beijing opera in China. Japanese tea culture and Thai temples, many countries have responded with protecting and preserving their cultural identities, in an effort to keep themselves in the list of the most popular destinations. Increased tourism instils fresh life force into these countries, aiding the conservation of their features.
While tourism provides a driving force for cultural conversation, some components of a culture, such as traditions, customs or taboos might die out over time. It seems that in some countries, the locals have become more accustomed to exotic cultures. It reflects the combined effects of the invasion of foreign cultures, either through media or through direct business interaction. For example, two decades ago, sex was a taboo subject in China and most Chinese people felt embarrassed to talk openly about it. Over time the Western culture has permeated into the Chinese lifestyle, and the Chinese people have broken many of their time-honoured traditions. It occurs in the rest of the world as well.
As outlined above, increased interaction between countries in the domains of business and culture can either strengthen or undermine the identities of countries involved. To date there is no definite answer to this question.
- conspicuous = noticeable = prominent = striking
- connection = linkage = relation = relationship
- demise = disappearance = vanishing = fading
- multiple = manifold = numerous = various = many
- disgrace = dishonour = shame= humiliation
- life force = soul = essence
- conservation = protection = preservation
- exotic = bizarre = outlandish = from afar = mysteriously unusual
- taboo = offensive = embarrassing = unacceptable = disgraceful = dishonourable = humiliating
- permeate = seep into = pervade = leak into
- time-honoured = age-old = long-established
- interaction = interplay = communication = relationship
Topic 4: Some people believe that culture will be ruined if it is used to earn tourism revenue, but others consider that tourism is the only way of protecting a culture. Discuss both sides and give your own opinion.
There is little room for doubt that tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. However, its impact on culture remains a source of constant debate. This essay will elaborate on both positive and negative effects of tourism from a cultural perspective.
Providing economic incentives for cultural preservation is unarguably one of the main contributions of tourism. To many tourists, culture and history are what they first consider when choosing a destination. Their mindset has been recognised by many tourism sites and money has been subsequently directed toward cultural protection, including the maintenance of key historical sites. Tourism is therefore one of the primary forces contributing to the preservation of a culture.
In addition to raising financing, tourism can make an indigenous culture known to the world and rally support worldwide to protect it. When a historic site or a site that shows a country’s cultural heritage is made accessible to the public, visitors from all over the world will soon flock there. They will share their experience in the local culture with their friends and families once they return home, assisting this site to gain international fame. Both financial and technological support will flood in for the conservation of natural and cultural resources.
On the negative side, tourism develops sometimes at the expense of part of culture. Food, festivals, costumes and other stimulating elements of a culture tire highlighted to entertain tourists, constituting an insult to the locals and causing damage to the unique nature of a culture. Moreover, cultural commercialisation has made the sacred elements of a culture commonplace and tourists are encouraged to attach little importance to a unique tradition, which cannot be found elsewhere.
In the light of these facts, one can conclude that tourism is neither a boon nor a bane to cultural preservation. While its endeavour to protect an indigenous culture should be recognised, it has put the integrity of a culture at risk.
- unarguably = unquestionably = indisputably = undeniably
- destination = site = place
- maintenance = preservation = upholding = protection
- indigenous = original = aboriginal
- fame = reputation = recognition = eminence
- at the expense of = at the cost of
- entertain = amuse = keep somebody amused
- insult = offence
- commonplace = ordinary
- in the light of = in view of = considering = taking into account
- endeavour = effort = attempt
- integrity = entirely = unity
- put at risk = endanger = jeopardise
Topic 5: Some people argue that immigrants should adopt the local culture when immigrating to a new country. An alternative view is that they can adapt to a new environment by establishing a minority community. Discuss these two views and give your opinion.
The world in the 21st century is marked by high population mobility. When an increasing number of people have chosen to leave their motherlands and resettle in a new country, they are at crossroads whether to blend in with the local culture or to cherish their own cultural heritages by establishing a minority community. In my opinion, the convergence of different cultures does not require one culture to yield to another. Instead, it can be achieved by building minority communities.
Most immigrants, at the first stage of their life in a new country, are faced with merging into the new culture and integrating into the new society. Accepting the local culture by observing the local traditions is a good starting point. Doing so enables immigrants to interact with locals, especially in the workplace, where locals predominantly work. For example, in Western culture, people customarily keep a certain distance from each other when having a conversation, whereas in some other cultures, the closeness of physical distance is taken as a sign of mutual trust. Examples of this kind are many. A migrant to a new country should recognise the differences and observe local conventions. It will help avoid embarrassment and bring a sense of comfort.
While adopting local customs and blending into the local culture, migrants can follow their individual cultural traditions. The coexistence of different minority communities in a country benefits both immigrants and locals. On the one hand, it enables immigrants to counteract the stress that results from culture shock and to increase confidence in their residence in a new country. On the other, the flourishing of different cultures contributes to the establishment of a multi-cultural environment, a prerequisite for attracting skilled workforce from all over the world to settle.
By comparing the immigration options above, one can conclude that immigrants can adopt local conventions and cherish their own cultures simultaneously. This allows both locals and immigrants to co-build a harmonious multi-cultural community.
- motherland = native country
- resettle = relocate
- convergence = union = junction = meeting
- merge into = blend into = integrate into
- starting point = basis
- customarily = routinely = habitually = regularly = usually
- closeness = nearness = proximity
- counteract = offset = neutralise = counter
- flourishing = blooming = budding
- prerequisite = requirement = condition = must = precondition
Topic 6: The advantages of the spread of English as a global language will continue to outweigh its disadvantages. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
In these years, there is a growing recognition that English is well on its way to becoming the dominant global language. The impact of this trend is a subject of intense debate. It is my opinion that advantages of a dominant global language will continue to outweigh its disadvantages.
The rise of a global language is a facilitator of cross-cultural communication and the communication between people with different language backgrounds. In different areas of global communication, such as science and news, recognising a common language removes communication barriers and increases convenience. On many formal occasions, English, as a working language, boosts efficiency and avoids misunderstanding. Likewise, the exchange of essential information like know-how and technologies will be tremendously prompted.
One might argue that the rise of a global language would endanger other languages, in a belief that an increasing number of people have turned to English as their first language. This viewpoint is flawed. The spread of global English has little, if any, influence on non-English-speakers’ language proficiency. People might be motivated to learn English as a foreign language but do not necessarily drop their native language because learning beginner or intermediate level English is sufficient for day-to-day communication.
The dominance of English as a global language is, therefore, not a cause of the loss of language diversity. Its negative effect is reflected mainly in cultural imperialism. As international media recognises English as its root language, most of the broadcasted information is related to the lifestyle, norms and beliefs of English-speaking countries. It might over time put many minority cultures on the verge of extinction, when those ethnic groups gradually adopt the Western culture. The effects of shrinking cultural diversity are destructive, causing people to live in a simple and monotonous world and think and act in similar ways.
The development of English is overall, a positive global trend. It connects people who previously spoke different languages and enables them to exchange ideas, although it might lead to the loss of cultural diversity.
- know-how = knowledge
- prompt = encourage = stimulate = trigger
- imperialism = colonialism
- on the verge of = on the brink of = on the edge of
- destructive = damaging = devastating = injurious = detrimental
- connect = unite = link
Topic 7: Aircrafts have been increasingly used to transport fruits and vegetables to some countries where such plants hardly grow or are out of season. Some people consider it a good trend, but some people oppose it. Discuss both views and give your opinion.
There has been a steady increase in the demand for imports throughout the world in recent years, including those perishable items, such as fruits and vegetables. Despite the boom in this business, importing agricultural products is very often criticised as unnecessary and extravagant, especially when air freight is involved. The criticism was correct in the past, but at the present time, there are indications that this trade activity has brought various benefits.
At first, it is important to note that contrary to popular belief, imports are now increasingly affordable to the general population. Thanks to the rapid development of the freight transport industry, air travel has become an economical mode of transport, resulting in the subsequent decrease in the cost of importing. Meanwhile, technical advance in the food processing industry has made it much easier to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables over a long-haul air flight. Because of the wide availability of imported crops, there are more varieties in the food market, leading to the drop in the price of imports. The supply of products in the market is less likely to be influenced by seasonal factors, and an adequate intake of nutrition is guaranteed for the general population throughout the year.
Another fact to note is that import and export normally go hand in hand, and a country that imports goods from other countries does not necessarily suffer a loss. Trade is not unilateral but bilateral. Some countries are noted for an agrarian economy, while others specialise in manufacturing industrial products. Countries differ in their product structures because they have dissimilar natural resources, climates, and geographical features. By adopting an enlightened policy and promoting trade activities with other countries, a country can facilitate the exchange of goods, services and capital with the rest of the world and promote economic development.
On the negative side, some countries might become addicted to importing goods and overlook the possibility of developing a self-contained economy. Scarcity of resource or lack of technology might disable a country from producing crops to feed its population, but it cannot be taken as an excuse for relying heavily on imports. Government funding in scientific research can make it possible to achieve a breakthrough and increase the yield, thereby resolving food supply crisis.
Countries are therefore advised to promote international trade and to develop their own industries simultaneously. Positive attitudes toward importing goods from other countries demonstrate a government’s stance on the international trade, although the government should also prevent itself from relying on imported goods.
- perishable = easy to rot
- boom = rapid growth = sudden increase = expansion = surge
- extravagant = wasteful = luxurious
- at the present time = at present = currently
- indication = sign = hint = clue
- variety = selection
- go hand in hand = be closely connected = be inseparable
- unilateral = one-sided
- enlightened = liberal = open-minded
- overlook = neglect = ignore
- self-contained = self-reliant = self-sufficient
- scarcity = deficiency = shortage = dearth = deficit
- yield = harvest = the amount of crops produced
- simultaneously = at the same time
- stance = position = stand
Topic 8: Millions of dollars are spent on space research every year. Some people argue that the money should be spent on improving living standards on Earth. Do you agree or disagree?
In recent years, there have been more and more countries involved and interested in long-term space projects. Because of the enormous research expenditures incurred, the value of space projects has been disputed. Some people suggest that government funding should be diverted toward improving the living standard of ordinary people. In evaluating the merits of space ambition, one should adopt a broader perspective. The investment in space research can be paid off someday in the future.
The first reason to support it is that our planet is now facing an unprecedented resource problem, which can be tackled only by discovering and mining new resources on other planets. The overuse or scarcity of some resources on the Earth is a severe problem. Rare metals, such as gold or silver, will eventually be depleted, as industrial production expands. These metals and other natural resources, although rare on Earth, might abound on other planets. In that case, conducting space research is a promising adventure.
Meanwhile, the world’s population is now growing to a stage where there are too many people for the planet to support, highlighting the need to seek land suitable for people’s re-settlement off the planet. Even if new urban developments are able to accommodate the increasing population, water and electricity supply, waste treatment, sewage disposal and sanitation will become unmanageable for the capacity of our planet. As there are countless planets orbiting stars throughout the universe, one can be confident that at least one of them is suitable for our second home planet. Mars, for example, bearing a close resemblance to the Earth, is considered a potential backup.
In addition to searching for a shelter for future generations, space programmes contribute considerably to the well-being of the Earth in some other aspects. For example, by monitoring the ozone hole, global warming, the loss of rain forests and other environmental threats to human survival, remote sensing satellites help people trace the recovery from the worst environmental threats and thereby improve the quality of life. Meanwhile, space research provides a new platform on which scientists can carry out experiments and make new discoveries in a variety of fields, such as agriculture.
As suggested above, in locating new resources, positioning new settlements, addressing environmental concerns and facilitating scientific discovery, space research will prove to be not only worthwhile, but also crucial to the survival and sustainability of human civilisation.
- value = merit = worthiness = worth
- divert = redirect = reroute = switch
- overuse = overexploitation
- abound = be plentiful = thrive = flourish = proliferate = grow in great numbers
- adventure = voyage = journey
- re-settlement = relocation = immigration
- sewage = sullage = waste water
- unmanageable = uncontrollable = unruly
- backup = candidate = replacement
- recovery = healing = recuperation
- platform = stage
Topic 9: Space travel to the Moon is often cited as one giant leap for mankind. Yet some people argue that this achievement made little difference to our daily lives. What is your opinion?
The idea of travelling through space, even living and working on other planets, has fascinated people for centuries. Despite numerous setbacks and daunting expenditures, travelling in the outer space has never failed to attract people’s attention and provoke controversy. Sixty years after the first Moon landing, people question whether the feat, previously thought of as a giant leap for mankind, has substantially benefited people’s lives. In my opinion, landing on the Moon has enormous relevance for the quality of life, albeit not always explicit.
The first implication of Moon landing is reflected in the likelihood of travelling on other planets. Moon, as the object in the outer space closet to the Earth, can serve as a launch site for the journeys to other planets. Having no atmosphere, the Moon is a permanent base for people to observe the universe easily and provide them with sufficient evidence they require for decision making on a great many significant issues, which are likely to have direct impact on them. For example, one can team more about the treat of potentially hazardous objects that are likely to hit the Earth and destroy our civilisation.
Another remarkable breakthrough made by the Moon landing is that it reignites people’s enthusiasm in the natural sciences. When today’s youths become increasingly interested in such subjects as commerce, finance and business, space exploration successfully attracts and retains talents in space-related technologies. These young minds are convinced that unravelling the unknown of the universe is feasible, despite many challenges. They are inspired to think for the future, instead of being preoccupied with contemporary issues only.
It should also be noted that the Moon has water, the basic resource for people’s survival, and it abounds in solar energy, a clean and readily obtainable resource. It is also believed that minerals are plentiful there to be exploited. Some day, if people are forced to move off the Earth, the Moon might be the best shelter. Although people have not yet fully explored this possibility at this stage, preliminary investigation is imperative.
Based on the above-mentioned facts, one can conclude that the Moon landing greatly impacts on distant future, although its effect is not apparent for the time being. The Moon is the eventual gateway to other planets and potentially the place of residence for the future generations. The scientific knowledge and economic benefits to be gained by building a sustainable Moon base are huge.
- feat = achievement = accomplishment
- relevance = significance = importance = weight
- explicit = overt
- observe = watch = monitor
- unravel = find an answer to = work out
- unknown mysterious = unfamiliar
- feasible = practicable = viable = practical = realistic
- obtainable = available = accessible
- preliminary = initial = preceding
- imperative = necessary = essential = crucial = vital
- for the time being = for now = for the moment
- gateway = entry = doorway = access
Topic 10: Some people argue that the government should spend money on public services and facilities, but not on the arts. Do you agree or disagree?
The role of arts in modern life is unique, providing people with entertainment and yielding various psychological rewards, such as relief from stress. Despite these benefits, the arts have been taken as luxury goods in many cases. It is suggested that public money of a city should be concentrated in projects like public facilities, which are more likely to bring immediate benefits to the public, rather than the arts. There are a number of facts indicating that this position is right.
Public facilities, widely accepted as one of the main precursors to a city’s development, should be one of the highest priorities. Those underdeveloped cities in particular, should direct sufficient funding toward public facilities. While municipal office buildings, courthouses and post offices are essential components of public services, libraries, hospitals, parks, playing fields, gymnasiums and swimming pools are available to the public for social, educational, athletic and cultural activities. By boosting spending on public facilities, cities are more capable to satisfy the needs of citizens and improve their standard of living.
In addition to social benefits, there are economic merits that public facilities can offer to communities. An integrated transport network (maritime, land and inland waterways transport and civil aviation), for example, promises the smooth and speedy movement of goods and people in a city. Industrial products, as well as agricultural produce of a city, can be delivered to other cities in exchange for steady income. Of equal importance are public Internet facilities. Providing access to information by improving Internet and other telecommunications facilities has relevance to the ease with which businesses in a city receive, process, utilise, and send information. It is no exaggeration to say that entrepreneurs, either from home or abroad, will first examine the infrastructure of a city before deciding whether to pursue business opportunities there.
The arts, by comparison, although enabling people to see the world and the human condition differently and to see a truth one might ignore before, do not merit government spending. The first reason is that the arts — referring to music, film and literature altogether—are more likely to attract the investment of the private sector than public facilities. Businesspeople continue to invest in the arts in the expectation of earning lump sum income and the arts in return, continue to flourish without the government spending. Meanwhile, the arts are a key component of a culture and naturally passed down from one generation to another. Unlike public facilities, they require no money to survive.
It is therefore clear that construction of public facilities should be given the foremost consideration. The concern about the well-being of individual citizens and that of a city is more acute than the apprehension about the survival and prospects of the arts, something that businesses have a stake in.
- precursor = forerunner = foundation
- municipal = urban = metropolitan
- merit = value = advantage
- integrate = amalgamate = combine = mix
- merit = deserve = earn
- flourish = thrive = burgeon = boom
- apprehension = anxiety = uneasiness = dread = fearfulness
- stake = involvement = concern = interest share
Topic 11: Some people argue that the government should spend money only on medical care and education but not on theatres or sport stadiums. Do you agree or disagree?
Where public money goes is an issue of broad interest to the general public. Some people advocate that the government should fund the sectors that bring tangible and immediate benefits to the public, such as medical care and educational systems, while opponents suggest that those large urban developments, such as stadiums and theatres, are worth government funding. In my opinion, the possibility remains that the two opinions can be reconciled and the government can coordinate budgeting to meet the needs of both.
Medical care is essential to the economic and social well-being of a country, particularly of an underdeveloped country. Both empirical knowledge and academic research suggest that making education available throughout a country and eliminating illiteracy can pave the way for economic development. By receiving education, children from impoverished families can shake off poverty, climb high in the social ladder and live better off. Education also allows citizens to secure employment and cam regular income, thereby maintaining or improving their standard of living. For a country as a whole, education is linked to skilled workforce and to high productivity, affecting both resource use and national output.
Government interference in healthcare and medical services is also highly recommended. Availability of affordable medical service is a mark of the social and economic development of a country. By providing the needy people with medical service, a country can inspire the loyally of citizens. People feel assured living and working in a country where they can be given medical service when unemployed, sick, injured or retired. By comparison, if they cannot afford the high cost of visiting the clinic, hospitalisation, or buying drugs, they are less likely to enjoy their living. Social solidarity will eventually suffer.
Although education and medical services are fundamental to the stability and development of a country, it is not to say that theatres or sport stadiums have no redeeming feature. In the hierarchy of human needs, those needs for food, shelter and health are among the basic. After these targets are attained, people turn to higher aspirations, entertainment and recreation. Leisure facilities like stadiums are cinemas satisfy people’s needs in these fields. A game between one’s motherland and a visiting country can raise people’s sense of national pride and ethnical unity. The cinema brings artistic pleasure to everyone.
To draw a conclusion, the decision to finance theatres or sport stadiums depends on the financial situation of a country. When an economy comes to maturity, the launch of recreational and entertainment projects of this kind is reasonable.
- tangible = concrete = solid = material = touchable
- reconcile = tailor = modify = alter = adapt
- shake oft = get rid of = get away with
- assured = confident = self-confident = poised-self-assured
- drug = medicine = prescription drug
- redeeming feature = desirable quality
- hierarchy = pyramid = pecking order = chain of command
- shelter = safe haven = housing = accommodation = lodging
- motherland = fatherland = nation state
Topic 12: The advocates of international aid believe that countries have a moral obligation to help each other, while the opponents consider it unnecessary, because money is misspent by the governments that receive it. Discuss these two points of view and give your opinion.
International aid refers to money, equipment or services that are provided by a country or international organisation for countries that need them, known as recipient countries. It reflects a moral ideal of mankind, that is, mutual support and interdependence, according to those donor countries. However, some people adopt an opposing view and tend to believe that aid money can be misspent by the recipient countries. My view is that people should not withhold the provision of money or material resources in aid.
Humanitarian aid is a moral imperative. Members of the global community have the responsibility to provide relief to each other, especially to those disadvantaged members and those victims of natural disasters and civil unrest. This aid is essential to the homeless and useful in helping recipient countries return to their normal state after major disturbances. For example, with the humanitarian relief obtained worldwide on an annual basis, victims of natural disasters (such as tsunami, draught, flood) throughout the world can recover rapidly and rebuild their homeland.
Humanitarian relief is meanwhile an instrument to promote peace and security. The deep-rooted hostility between some countries can result from the disparity in the material standard of living, or from physical distance. The provision of humanitarian relief opens up the possibility of cultural, economic and social interaction between countries, and thereby easing tension. Recipient countries can thus participate in the global economy, a strategic step in shaking off poverty.
Admittedly, aid money is sometimes misused or spent on unintended destinations, but these pitfalls can never overshadow the benefits. Misuse can instead raise awareness of the global community to a venal regime and pressure the recipient country to adjust its system. Meanwhile, it can be tackled by tight regulations and scrutiny. In general, the abuse of international aid is an isolated event, so its effect should not be overstated.
From what has been discussed above, one can reach a conclusion that the role of humanitarian relief is not only to deliver urgent assistance to populations in need but also to strengthen ties between countries. Although fraud and corruption occur every now and then, they can be addressed in a way that enhances future aid endeavours.
- misspend = mishandle = misuse = abuse
- recipient = receiver = beneficiary
- withhold = suspend = defer
- provision = supply
- unrest = turmoil = conflict = turbulence
- result from = stem from = be caused by
- open up = increase = raise
- shake off = get rid of
- pitfall = drawback = downside
- venal = corrupt
- isolated = exceptional
- tie = bond = link
- endeavour = attempt = effort
Topic 13: Some people think the government should pay for health care and education, but there is no agreement about whether it is the government's responsibility. What is your opinion?
Not surprisingly, health care and education are two areas of government priority in most, if not all, of the countries around the world. However, many tend to see the both areas as citizens’ individual responsibilities. This belief is partly right. The government and the citizens should be jointly responsible for the cost of education and health care service.
The first point to note is that government funding for education is of great benefit to families with children and the society as a whole. There are occasions on which parents cannot afford the cost of their education and their savings are meagre, compared with the formidable tuition fees being charged by a tertiary institution. Poor academic experience can impair one’s employability and put him or her into a seriously disadvantage position. Government spending addresses this issue by providing aspiring students with access to a comfortable learning experience. In this knowledge-based society, possibly nothing is more valuable than the access to education.
Similarly, an individual should receive health care treatments, especially lifesaving ones, whether he or she has the means to pay. Access to health care is a basic human right and a measure to ensure a decent standard of living. In the event of the need for urgent or emergency treatment, government spending enables sufferers to receive immediate health care services. This is the fulfilment of the government’s responsibility to its members. Needless to say, health care treatment costs are, in general, unaffordable to low income families. Government’s financial support is therefore required.
Despite these facts, it is immoral that individuals shirk responsibility and try to pass all medical costs on to the government. In view of the fact that the government raises financing primarily from taxpayers’ income, individual’s over-exploitation of a health care system will in fact add a heavy burden on those hardworking and good-hearted citizens. Particular attention should be paid on those people whose health problems are attributed to their poor personal living habits (smoking, drinking, substance use or inactive lifestyle). In such cases, they should not be entitled for public medical services.
As suggested above, education and healthcare services are of primary importance to citizens, and the government has the responsibility to ensure that those services are available and affordable. However, it is not to say that the government should bear the costs of all healthcare and educational services that the citizens currently enjoy.
- formidable = remarkable = astounding = daunting
- employability = the ability to find a job
- aspiring = promising = aspirant
- standard of living = living standard = level of affluence = level of comfort
- sufferer = victim = patient
- good-hearted = charitable = benevolent = generous = altruistic
- bear = assume = shoulder = take on