Some people think that professional athletes make good role models for young people, while others believe they don’t. Discuss both these points of views and give your own opinion.

People everywhere like watching sports. Many top athletes are admired throughout their countries, and some even have fans all around the world. Young people especially, view many athletes as role models and want to emulate the way these stars dress, act and live their lives. While some athletes aren’t deserving of their “role model” status, others act like role models and responsible community citizens.

Top athletes get the attention of young people. Most children and teenagers like to follow professional sports. For many of them, star athletes represent heroes, and children want to be like their heroes. This means they will want to play sports, which is good for their health. Playing sports also teaches valuable life lessons such as teamwork, discipline, goal setting, and the realities of dealing with success and failure. Professional athletes demonstrate the importance of working hard to achieve a goal, or practicing regularly to become good at something. This is a good example for children to follow.

However, professional athletes are not always good role models. For one thing, when young athletes reach a level of fame, it comes with media attention, large financial benefits and social attention. This can lead children to believe that money and fame are an important part of sports. Children might focus more on these aspects than on the fun of the game or on the challenge of learning how to play well. Then there are those athletes who behave badly. For example, some cheat to win their games or take drugs to improve their performance. This kind of behaviour sends the wrong message to children.

Athletes are people who are held at a lofty place in the society owing to their popularity and wealth. These attributes are what makes people want to look up to them and model various facets of their lives along those of the athletes. We can thus be led to conclude that professional athletes can be very good role models for children, as long as they focus on the positive aspects of playing sports.

As the number of private cars has increased, so too has the level of pollution in many cities. What can be done to tackle this increasingly common problem?

As the number of private cars has increased, so has the level of pollution. Overreliance on cars at the expense of public transport has made this problem even worse, causing many concerned citizens to look for a solution to the problem.

One potential solution to this problem is to discourage the use of private cars by raising taxes. If the cost of petrol was increased, then many people would consider using alternative forms of transport or even walking. Admittedly, there would be a number of complaints from car drivers, but these would not be of much importance when balanced against the environmental benefits.

Another solution could be to look at more specific causes of the problem. Modern cars are fitted with cleaner burning engines and catalytic converters. Accordingly, they do not cause as much of an environmental hazard as some older cars. In Japan, for example, cars are heavily taxed once they have been on the road for three years or more, encouraging people to buy new cars which pollute less. By heavily taxing older vehicles from the road, some of the worst-polluting vehicles would be taken off the road. However, this would not really be fair to those who cannot afford a new car with such regularity.

An improvement in the quality and efficiency of public transport would also encourage people to use their cars less. In London, for example, a system has been operating for some time in which people are allocated days of the week when they can use their cars. On days that they are not allowed to drive, public transport is taken.

Although these are potential solutions to the problem, none of them are perfect. Only by a concerted effort by both the government and the public can this situation truly be resolved.

Many high-level positions in companies are filled by men even though the workforce in many developed countries is more than 50 per cent female. Companies should be required to allocate a certain percentage of these positions to women. To what extent do you agree?

In many countries these days, females make up over 50 per cent of the workforce, and increasingly highly skilled women are taking managerial positions. However, it is still a fact that high positions such as CEO posts are still dominated by men. Although this is not desirable, I do not personally believe that imposed quotas are the solution.

Firstly, I believe companies have a right to choose the best person for the job, whatever their gender, in order to contribute to the success of the business. Forcing companies to hire, promote and appoint women could negatively affect business in the short term and even the long term.

Secondly, to my mind the solution to this problem should be solved outside the workplace. Girls need to be encouraged to take more male-dominated subjects at school and later at university, and to aspire to do well in their careers. Girls and boys also need to be taught equality from an early age. This education can take place in schools and career programmes and in the home.

To those who argue that quotas are a good way to initiate this change, I would like to point out that artificially imposing rules has not always had the desired effect. When governments required males and females to receive the same pay for the same jobs, employers simply changed job titles to ensure that women were still paid less than men. It is my belief that employers will simply try to find loopholes to get around any such law.

In summary, I do not believe that forcing companies to allocate jobs to women is the best way to address the imbalance. Rather, it is a question of education and of changing mindsets so that those who deserve to be at the top will earn it and be appropriately appointed.

Many people believe that media coverage of celebrities is having a negative effect on children. To what extent do you agree?

In the past, news about famous people may have been confined to gossip columns in newspapers; these days it is not uncommon for celebrities to feature as front page news. There is evidence that the public feels there is too much news coverage of famous people. Not surprisingly, there is concern about how this might be affecting people, and in particular children.

One of the possible negative consequences of the ‘cult of celebrity’ is the tendency to confuse fame and notoriety. Celebrity scandals are just as likely to receive publicity as celebrity achievements. Indeed, some famous people have received more attention for their misuse of drugs and alcohol than for their successes on the stage or in sports. Children who crave attention may come to see misbehaviour as normal.

The emphasis on individuals in the public eye may also be at the expense of serious news coverage. Next to the superficial excitement of celebrity gossip, news about serious events and issues that have a more profound effect on people’s lives may seem uninteresting. Children may be forming a very distorted picture of how the world works.

The negative influence of celebrities on children can also be seen in children’s career aspirations. These days, young people are much more likely to see themselves as potential sports stars or entertainers. The prevalence of these figures in the mass media may convey the impression that such positions are plentiful. Children may be developing unrealistic expectations that they too will become rich and famous.

In summary, the ‘cult of celebrity’ may be affecting children in a number of undesirable ways. It is important that children be taught to critically evaluate what they see in the media so that they can form a more realistic view of society, acceptable behaviour, and indeed themselves.

Some people think that there are things individuals can do to help prevent global climate change. Others believe that action by individuals is useless and irrelevant and that it is only governments and large businesses which can make a difference. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Climate change is a phenomenon affecting all people in all walks of life, from individual citizens to whole countries and huge multinational companies. The question of what we can do to prevent global climate change and whether individual action is effective or not is a hotly debated issue.

There are those who say that the majority of the damages is wrought by big businesses. By imposing restrictions on emissions and by strictly monitoring waste disposal from factories, plants and businesses, governments would go a long way towards preventing climate change. It is thought that governments around the world should come up with solutions to help prevent imminent environment disaster. Proponents of this view claim that individual action is irrelevant in the face of massive, wide-scale prevention policies set and controlled by governments.

On the other hand, there are a growing number of people who believe that individual action combined with governmental and business action will do a lot more to prevent climate change than if individual citizens were not involved. In a world of six billion people, if everyone thought about the number of water they use, how they dispose of their rubbish, whether or not something needs to be thrown away or if they can, in fact, re-use certain items then we would be giving the problem of climate change and its prevention a massive boost.

Taking both points into consideration, I firmly believe that individual citizens cannot sit back and say it is someone else’s responsibility to protect the environments; we must all play our part-individual citizens, governments and big businesses alike.

Some people think that human history has been a journey from ignorance to knowledge. Others argue that this underestimates the achievements of ancient cultures, and overvalues our achievements. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Some argue that people in the modern world are in possession of much more knowledge than people of ancient cultures. Others believe that this ignores the accomplishments of the past and places too much emphasis on present achievements.

While it is undoubtedly true that modern technologies, such as the internet could not have been imagined in ancient cultures, it is a mistake to view these ancient cultures as ignorant. Few would argue that the builders of the Sphinx were mere primitive cavemen, for example. People at the time had the knowledge they needed to understand and deal with their world and in fact one argument that is sometimes put forward is that, even with all we know today, we do not have the technology to build the Pyramids of Egypt.

Even if we do accept that modern society is richer in technological terms, it is undoubtedly poorer in spiritual terms. Our societies have become so complex that people often become victims to the lifestyles they lead and must face a whole new variety of widespread modern-day problems, such as stress and obesity which affect people in developed countries worldwide. Furthermore, the number of uneducated people still living in poverty with little opportunity to benefit from technological achievements suggests that our modern society is not so advanced after all.

In my view, however, there is no comparison between what we can achieve today and what people even two hundred years ago could achieve as we now know so much more. The vast majority of people in developed countries are able to benefit from an education system, standard of living, healthcare and life expectancy that are so much more advanced than ever before. It is my personal opinion that although we must remember and respect ancient cultures, modern day achievements have brought us to the peak of human civilisation.

In general, people do not have such a close relationship with their neighbours as they did in the past. Why is this so, and what can be done to improve contact between neighbours?

In the past, neighbours formed an important part of people’s social lives and they helped them when they had problems. Nowadays, people often do not even know their neighbours and in consequence they live much more isolated lives.

There are a number of reasons why we have less contact with our neighbours. Firstly, our lifestyles are more mobile. This means people may change the area where they live quite frequently and this causes their relationships with their neighbours to be more superficial. Secondly, nowadays people often live and work in different places. This leads to people forming closer relationships with work colleagues than the ones they have with their neighbours. Finally, modern lifestyles make us spend more time inside our houses watching television, and when we go out, we travel by car. Consequently, we do not speak to the people in our neighbourhood so much.

There are a number of ways in which I think contact between neighbours can be improved. First of all, local authorities can provide communal areas such as playgrounds for children and community halls so that there are places where neighbours can meet and make friends. Next, I think that when new neighbours come to a street, the people living there ought to introduce themselves and welcome them. Lastly, people living in a street or small district should form neighbourhood associations and meet regularly to discuss the things which affect them.

In conclusion, these suggestions will probably not make neighbours as important in our lives as they were in the past. However, they will help our relationships with our neighbours to become more useful and valuable.

Some parents buy their children a large number of toys to play with. What are the advantages and disadvantages for the child of having a large number of toys?

It is true that many parents purchase a multitude of playthings for their offspring. Whether or not this is a good thing for the child, is a moot point. On the face of it the advantages seem most apparent, but could there be a downside to this phenomenon of devoted parenting as well?

Most people would consider children who have many toys to be the fortunate ones. Interesting things to play with stimulate many positives in the young boy or girl, such as optimum brain development, hand-eye coordination and colour recognition, apart from the simple joy of playing. Modern toys are designed to be educational as well as fun, and concerned parents carefully select products which might speed their child’s acquisition of numbers or the alphabet.

Is it possible that owning multiple toys could be in any way detrimental to a child? This is an unusual question, but there are some hidden pitfalls. For one, wealthy parents might spoil their son or daughter by showering him/her with toys, resulting in a negative effect on the child’s character. For another, a growing child’s concentration span may suffer if they are constantly surrounded by too many tempting objects, so that they become unable to focus on any one game for a decent length of time before being distracted. On the social side, older children may become targets of envy from classmates, if they are perceived as having far more possessions than their peers. Finally, the majority of toys today are made of plastic which commonly contains the chemical BPA, proven to be dangerous for infants to suck on or ingest.

It is clear then that this situation is not as straightforward as it first appears. It would seem that one of the many duties of parents is to make an informed choice about how many toys they buy for their young ones.

Celebrities make a very good living out of media attention and have chosen to live in the public spotlight. They have no right to complain when they feel the media are intruding on their privacy. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

Being famous should not mean that you give up all right to a private. Although a lot depends on the reason why a person is famous, everyone should be able to enjoy a certain amount of privacy.

I believe it is useful to draw a distinction between those who have sought a career in the public eye and those who have not. Prominent performers in film, television and music, for example, have clear chosen a career path that potentially leads to fame. In fact, for many of them, becoming as widely known as possible is a key ambition. Since they have invited the public to focus their attention on them, they should not be too surprised to find that people are interested in gossip or scandal about their private lives. Public attention is not something that you can turn on and off at will. Having said that, even those who seek fame still deserve the protection of the law and the media should be prevented from harassing them.

Other public figures, on the other hand, have not chosen to be famous. Members of royal families are born into fame, as are the children of celebrities. Ordinary people in the news often become well-known through no fault of their own. It is my opinion that the media have no right to intrude into these people’s private lives. I would even go so far as to say that I support an extension of the law to guarantee their privacy. The media should be prevented from reporting on things that should be private matters.

As the media continue to become more and more powerful in our society, so the question of privacy becomes more important. Everyone deserves a private life, although perhaps some deserve it more than others.

It is generally believed that the Internet is an excellent means of communication but some people suggest that it may not be the best place to find information. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Using the Internet has become a normal part of everyday life for many people. They use it to book airline tickets, or to access news about world events, or to follow the fortunes of their favourite football club. Millions of people across the world belong to social networking groups where they keep in touch with their friends and if they live away from them, their family. In my opinion these are all good ways to use the Internet.

When it comes to finding out information there are some very good sites where it is possible to check, for example, someone’s biographical details or statistics about global warming. However, information from the Internet should be used with caution, because although there are many reliable sites, such as academic journals and well-known newspapers, there are also unreliable ones, so it is important to check where information originates from before using it.

Some students use websites which offer ready-made assignments. This is not a good idea, even if you ignore the fact that it is cheating, because such websites may contain factual errors or biased views. In a recent case, a student found herself in serious trouble when she submitted an essay from one of these sites only to discover that it was about Austria, not Australia, but had an error in the title.

Nevertheless, it is nowadays possible for people all over the world to study or do business on an equal footing, in a way that was unimaginable only a few years ago. On the whole I believe that the Internet is an excellent way both to communicate and to find information, as long as it is used intelligently.