Saturday, September 25, 2010

Technologically Lonely

There has been a growing debate about whether, in this technologically advanced world, the development of technological tools and how people use them is the underlying reason why the modern society is overwhelmed by increasing loneliness. However, I can not fully agree with his contention.

First of all, it is true that modern gadgets provided people with a way to busy themselves anywhere, anytime, thus they can simply ignore people around them. I remember my teacher told me that when he was young, people used to talk to others they did not even know in London cafes. Nowadays he would only find people set up barriers from others by indulging themselves with cellular phones or laptops, leaving him with no chance to talk to anyone. This attitude toward technological tools indeed contributes to the increasing loneliness mentioned.

Despite the fact pointed above, the actual purpose of developing technological devices is to facilitate various aspects of our life, including communication. Telephone was invented to allow people to speak to friends without getting out of their houses, so why only the newest form of communication channel—the Internet installed in laptops or other devices—is blamed for it making people lonely. In spite of limiting its users in respect of contact with others, the Internet is actually aiding people to send messages and documents cheaper and faster. The same reason is applicable to mobile phones. Therefore, the assertion that the development of technological tools has plunged humanity to loneliness is unconvincing.

Moreover, the growing loneliness is not directly caused by the advancing technology. With the ever increasing competitive work force, it is more reasonable to accuse financial demands as the reason why people have less chance to connect themselves to family and friends. Even if someone argues that the overwhelming competition is incited by the increasing speed of the most recent devices, it is again how people use them which result in the lack of leisure time to communicate with others.

To sum, it is not the advancing technology that makes people lonely. The development of such devices itself was instead intended to facilitate people to connect themselves with others. Even if the speed following the advanced technology caused some professions to be more demanding, the culpable side is again the uses that humanity has put to it.

GRE Argument Task 6

No comments:
Six months ago the region of Forestville increased the speed limit for vehicles travelling on the region’s highways by ten miles per hour. Since that change took effect, the number of automobile accidents in that region has increased by 15 percent. But the speed limit in Elmsford, a region neighboring Forestville, remained unchanged, and automobile accidents declined slightly during the same six-month period. Therefore, if the citizens of Forestville want to reduce the number of automobile accidents on the region’s highways, they should campaign to reduce Forestville’s speed limit to what it was before the increase.

The speaker recommends that the citizens of Forestville should tell the authorities that they want the speed limit in Forestville’s highways to be reduced to what it was before the ten-mile increase six months ago. The recommendation is made based on the fact that since the new speed limit was enacted, there were more automobile accidents in that region, increasing by 15 percent. The speaker also points out that a neighboring region did not change its speed limit, and its rate of automobile accidents declined slightly during the same period. Although the argument seems plausible, a careful examination upon it reveals its flaws, leaving it unconvincing as it stands.

To begin with, the speaker’s assumption that the decline of automobile accidents in Elmsford was a direct result of the region’s speed limit remained unchanged is specious. It is very possible that there were other factors contributing to the decrease, for example, the neighboring region had been helding an intense campaign on the issue of driving safely. Failing to give such possible explanations, the speaker could not make his argument cogent.

Even if it was true that Elmsford enjoyed slight decline of automobile accidents in its region, the speaker does not mention how slight it was nor did he provide any information about the actual number of speed limit. The speed limit in Elmsford may be irrationally low, and its citizens may actually crave to increase it. Furthermore, it means that Forestville has to reduce its speed limit to the same level. Meanwhile, if the decline was extremely slight, say 0.5%, then reducing the speed limit in Forestville to the same level may not yield a satisfactory result, and annoy its citizens instead.

Eventually, since the rise of Forestville’s speed limit itself did not necessarily cause a higher rate of automobile accidents, the speaker has to look for the actual reason why Forestville endured the increase. There might be some new citizens who provoked the young to drive carelessly. Therefore, the speaker would be able to make a better consideration about whether returning the speed limit to what it was is an effective measurement.

GRE Argument Task 5

“So that we can improve the quality of education for our students, we should merge the Fort Ann school district with the Hudson Falls school district. Scores on standardized tests for students in the Hudson Falls district rose an average of 25 percent in the past six years. Hudson Falls has five times the number of students as Fort Ann and four times the number of teachers, so they’re able to field more athletic teams and offer more enrichment programs, such as music and art. Three times as many graduates of Hudson Falls High go on immediately to four-year colleges as Fort Ann. Plus, the state aid reimbursement ratio for Hudson Falls is higher than that for Fort Ann.”

The speaker proposes that the Fort Ann school district should merge with the Hudson Falls school district to improve its quality. The proposal is followed with an argument containing some points to support it. Although the argument seems reasonable, it is actually plausible and has many flaws.

If Hudson Falls has five times the number of students as Fort Ann, having only four times the number of teachers means that the previous school has a lower ratio of teachers compared to students as the latter. Therefore, although those teachers can provide more options in the enrichment program, they might not be able to handle the students sufficiently. Eventually, it is doubtful that they can nurture the students’ potentials to the fullest.

Another weakness pertaining to the ratio of students is the fact that there are only three times as many graduates of Hudson Falls High who go immediately to four-year colleges as the Fort Ann. We have to remember that the number of students of the school in the Hudson Falls district is five times larger than the Fort Ann. Thus, if the previous school was indeed better than the latter, it should be expected that there are more than five times as many graduates do.

The last careless assumption is concerned with the state aid reimbursement. Whether it is true that the Hudson Falls school district receives a bigger ratio of aid reimbursement does not matter. There is no guarantee that merging the school with the Fort Ann would agglomerate the funds for both schools. The state might only give on portion, instead of two, of aid reimbursement for the unified schools. In the end, the merging would only encumber both schools.

All in all, if Fort Ann High is looking for a way to improve the quality of its students, merging it with the Hudson Falls is not a good solution. It is more practical to find out how the Hudson Falls High succeed in increasing their students’ average scores in the standardized test and consider to apply it in For Ann.

How to Tackle the Paper-Based IELTS Reading Comprehension

No comments:
The basic rule is DON’T SKIM. You just have to do everything in moderate speed. As long as you don’t slack while doing the test, you’ll be fine. Surely, it is advised that you get adequate practice to improve your so-called “moderate” speed.

If you have some difficulties in understanding the reading passage, well, those in the paper-based IELTS are actually simple. A paragraph consists of a main sentence and some supporting sentences. Meanwhile, a sentence’s core has a subject and a verb. Have yourself some exercises to mentally break the passage in this way. Don’t get confused with long paragraphs or seemingly endless sentences, because they are all basically the same.

1. Read the first three sentences, look if there is any question related to what you’ve found there. Make a temporary answer if it is possible.
2. Read the rest of the paragraph, look again at the questions. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to answer most of them by then.
3. Repeat step 1 for the next paragraph(s).
4. After reading the whole passage, check the answers you’ve made so far. There may be something you misunderstood when you only had read the first paragraph.

This way, you would not waste your time reading without answering any question (and likely to forget what you’ve just read). Moreover, it would be safer than getting lost in the passage when you try to answer the questions directly.

Dealing with the vocabulary questions is tricky when you have very little knowledge in the area. The best way to prepare yourself is reading everything and make sure that you look for the difficult words (and memorize them, of course). Books specifically telling you about what and how to memorize the most popular words occuring in IELTS would also help you much.

However, if your time is running out, go get yourself a lot of IELTS practice tests. Coin new words there, find their meanings. Make sure that you learn something from the answers’ explanation because experience would make you remember at best.


life (37) hobby (22) movie (21) review (20) GRE (16) poem (12) study (12) work (11) game (8) social (8) translation (7) business (6) dream (6) economy (6) novel (6) music (5) Facebook (3) friendship (3) linguistics (3) manga (3) marketing (3) self-actualization (3) IELTS (2) language (2) money (2) culture (1) gender (1) leadership (1) literature (1) name (1) peace (1)