Task 1.

Nowadays lots of young people tend to move to cities in search of better life. On the contrary, many adults consider such a lifestyle quite dangerous for their children. Who is right? Is the life in the city really as harmful as it may seem?

On the one hand, city life has lots of advantages. For example, it is often easier to get prestigious education and to find a well-82

paid job. Besides, there is a wider choice of shops, sports facilities and health centres. What is more, if you live in the city, you can eat in good restaurants, visit museums, and go to theatres or concerts. All in all, city lifestyle is full of variety so you will never feel bored.

On the other hand, we must admit that city life is rather unsafe as there is a lot of crime and violence. What is more, transport and industry are the main reasons for all kinds of pollution therefore city dwellers often have more problems with their health. Last of all, young people living in cities are likely to acquire such bad habits as smoking, drinking alcohol or even taking drugs.

In conclusion, I think that city life has its pros and cons. However, if we try and solve the problems of crime and pollution, then living in the city will be really enjoyable. As for me, I would prefer to live in the city because I am keen on visiting theatres and don’t mind noise and pollution.

Task 2. There are lots of different ways of communication nowadays such as letters and telegrams, telephones and the Internet, but perhaps the most popular one is a mobile phone. While young people cannot imagine their lives without mobiles, adults are getting more and more worried about the consequences of their use.On the one hand, we use mobile phones because they are very convenient. First of all, they are small enough to fit into our pockets so we can easily take them everywhere and always stay in touch. Besides, they allow us not only to phone, but to send small messages, which is very cheap. What is more, with new multimedia mobiles, we can log on to the Internet, pay for things, play games, interact with TV programmes and take photos to send to friends.On the other hand, some people believe that radiation from mobiles influences our health and can even lead to cancer. Besides, psychologists say teenagers are becoming addicted to mobiles. Surveys show that teenagers are reading less and mobile use is affecting the marks of secondary school students. What is more, some students can use mobile phones to cheat on tests, which of course is not honest.To sum up, I want to say that virtually every technology has its pros and cons. I believe we should not reject mobile phones for the bad effect they have. On the contrary, we must learn how to make the best use of them.

Task 3. People have various preferences so it is natural that school students want to study the subjects they are interested in. Yet many teachers are against this, arguing that students must learn all subjects equally.In my opinion, students should be allowed to choose the subjects they want to study because in this case they will probably be more enthusiastic about their school work. In addition, if students are forced to study all subjects obligatorily, they can easily lose interest in education. What is more, if all subjects are compulsory for studying, students will not have enough time to learn all of them properly therefore they will be constantly under a lot of pressure.On the other hand, most teachers believe their subject is of great importance and they will not let it be optional. Moreover, teachers claim that students must be well rounded so they need to study all subjects equally. I am afraid, however, that when we learn a variety of subjects, we get very poor knowledge and we are not able to get an idea of what our interests are. Besides, some subjects can be of no use for us in the future and we will forget everything we learned at school.In conclusion, I strongly believe that being free to choose what to study is an effective form of education. Nevertheless, I must admit that we should not completely reject all the other subjects. Instead, teachers must find an easier form of teaching them.

Task 4. Due to recent technological advances a growing number of people give up the classroom environment and choose to study online. Moreover, some people claim that distant learning will completely substitute traditional ways of education in the not too remote future. But is online education really so effective?At first glance, online learning provides an easier and more comfortable way of obtaining education because there is no need to attend classes and to spend a lot of time getting to and from school. In addition, students have greater flexibility in their schedule and can work at their own pace, taking time when they need it and speeding through courses that are easy. What is more, when students study online, they can specialize in courses they are most interested in. Students take responsibility for their education and become self-motivated and self-reliant.However, online education lacks interactive classroom setting, which promotes the open exchange of ideas and makes it easier to master the subject. Besides, certain subjects like Maths or Physics may be hard to learn without a direct help of a teacher not to mention difficulties connected with the use of computer equipment. Moreover, most online programmes don’t have the fun of traditional school and isolate students from each other, which has a bad influence on their character.In conclusion, I can say that the real effectiveness of online education has not been evaluated yet. I believe that the best teaching method will be a combination of online and classroom learning.

Task 5. The latest advances in information technology make people think that schools of the future will use computers instead of printed books. Although electronic books have not been widely accepted yet, they have certain advantages over traditional paper volumes. But will they be able to replace printed books?In my opinion, students will be widely using computers for studying in the future. To begin with, computers can store lots of books in their memory and modern software allows us to find quickly the necessary information. Besides, with the interactive programmes on computers studying will be much more exciting. What is more, electronic books will not degrade overtime like their printed counterparts.On the other hand, lots of disbelievers argue that computers will not replace printed books because a printed book is better for human eyes than a computer screen. In addition, books are cheaper and easier to use since they do not need electricity or the Internet connection. I cannot agree with this because modern computer screens emit no radiation and allow us to read even in low light conditions. Of course we will have to pay for electricity but I think it will be cheaper than to pay for printed books, which are very expensive nowadays.To sum up, I think computers and printed books will peacefully coexist for years to come, but in the future technological progress will make it possible for students to carry laptops or even palmtops instead of traditional bags with lots of heavy books.

Task 6. In most countries children can be educated at home by their parents and home schooling is becoming more and more popular. However, this way of education has both advantages and disadvantages.On the one hand, home education is ideal for children who suffer from ‘school phobia’ or do not fit in with the school environment. They are unhappy and often play truant. On the contrary, when children are educated at home, they study in an atmosphere of love and understanding. Moreover, this way of education will perfectly suit gifted pupils, who are bored by the traditional school lessons. In this case, parents can make studying more fascinating by choosing an individual curriculum. Finally, home educated children have more flexible schedule and can study at their own pace.On the other hand, parents are usually not qualified enough to teach their children therefore they may not receive an appropriate level of education. What is more, home education is very challenging for students as they have to work harder without a direct help of a qualified teacher. In addition, children lack the opportunity to exchange ideas with their peers, which restricts their intellectual development. They may also miss their friends as they meet only in the evenings.To conclude, I think although the idea of home education is becoming more popular, it might not suit every child and every parent. As for me, I would rather choose school education because it makes me more organised and provides profound knowledge in all subjects.

Task 7. Many parents see pocket money as a way of encouraging their children to do well at school. It cannot be denied that money oils the wheels of the world. But can pocket money really improve school performance?On the one hand, getting pocket money for good school grades teaches pupils that money does not grow on trees and develops a sense of how much has to be done to earn it. Besides, children become more interested in good results at school and try to study better. What is more, for many students studying is really hard work so they consider it fair to be rewarded for their efforts just like adults.On the other hand, it is normal to expect pupils to do their homework properly because it is their duty as are household chores. Another argument against this practice is that children get upset when they do badly at school not because of their poor knowledge but because the will get no money. Finally, getting pocket money may become their main target and students may start cheating so as to get good grades.To sum up, I think that this practice has more bad than good sides. That is why I strongly believe that parents should not give their children any money in order to encourage them to study better. Pupils should be ready to learn for learning’s sake. Of course they may be rewarded but for extra work, not for their duties.

Task 8. Every year thousands of students take important exams which can decide their future. For example, students have to pass exams with excellent grades in order to get a place in a university. However, are exams the ultimate solution to judge one’s knowledge?On the one hand, exams seem fair because the questions are the same for all students. Besides, the exams are marked according to a strict scheme and usually by more than one examiner. Furthermore, students do exams at the same time and under the same conditions. If the examination procedure is strict, students have no opportunity to cheat, that is why the results of exams are quite objective.On the other hand, exams do not truly reflect the knowledge students hold. Despite some students deserving to pass, they might be so nervous on the big day that they make a mess of the exam. In addition, there may be other reasons, such as illness, which affect a student’s performance in an exam. Moreover, exams do not judge your intelligence. What is really evaluated is your self-confidence and your short term memory.To sum up, exams are not the ideal way of testing students therefore the idea of assessing students’ work over a longer period is becoming more popular. In my opinion, the best system would be a mixture of exams and course work, in which students will be able to show their creative abilities.

Task 9. Many roads are open before school-leavers therefore it is not easy for them to make the right choice. Some students believe that it is necessary to get higher education whereas others prefer to earn money.On the one hand, it is better to continue our education and get the necessary knowledge for our future profession. At universities we learn how to learn so that we can make use of this ability in other more practical areas later on in life. Besides, if we have good qualifications, we will be able to find a highly paid job because every company needs well-qualified employees. Moreover, while studying at university, we can make lots of new friends and university life is usually interesting and exciting.However, many students take a gap year after school and start working in order to find out what their interests are and choose their future career. Besides, they can get the necessary experience and it will be a useful introduction to the world of business. Many people nowadays follow the traditional ‘start at the bottom and work your way up’ approach. What is more, they will earn money and become independent of their parents.In conclusion, I want to say that the final choice depends on the person’s attitude to education. Personally, I think that further education is very important and it is easier to study when you are young. So after finishing school I am going to enter a college or university and to continue my education.

Task 10. There are a lot of zoos in the world and millions of people visit them every year. But are zoos harmful or helpful to animals which are caged there?I strongly believe that we should not keep animals in zoos because captivity is not natural for them and it is a constant stress to a wild animal. Keeping animals in zoos harms them by denying them freedom of movement and association. What is more, zoos are like prisons for animals as they live in small cages and do not get necessary food. In addition, animals become very aggressive and unpredictable as they get older and often attack zoo keepers and other people.However, most people think that zoos help endangered species survive. But this is not true because most rare animals are extremely difficult to breed in captivity. Besides, in zoos, it is almost impossible to meet the animals’ natural needs. Another argument for keeping animals in zoos is that people learn something new about these animals. Actually, zoos do not teach us much because animals do not act the way they would in the wild. I think we can learn more about animals by watching wildlife programmes on TV.In conclusion, I would argue that zoos do not seem to help endangered species and keeping animals behind bars only for the sake of our entertainment is not quite fair. In my opinion, people must create nature reserves, where wild animals will be able to live in their natural environment.

Task 11. There is no doubt that the invention of the car changed the world and nowadays we can hardly find a family without a car. Nevertheless, some people are against cars, especially in the centres of big cities.In my opinion, cars should not be allowed into the city centres as they add to pollution and poison the air we breathe. We must also think about the people who live in the centre and suffer from the noise made by cars. Moreover, the streets in the centre are usually narrow therefore people are often stuck in traffic for many hours and, as a result, arrive late at their destination. Finally, with no cars in city centres, there would be no need for large ugly car parks, which would allow more space for parks.However, many people believe we would not be able to survive without cars because most of the products for shops and other businesses are transported by cars. Besides, they are afraid that public transport would be overloaded. I am sure it is possible to solve these problems by introducing a reliable high frequency tram service as well as developing the underground. As for goods, we could use electric vehicles for their delivery.To sum up, I believe that a clean, reliable and environmentally friendly public service would encourage people to use public transport and help smooth the transition to a car-free zone.

Task 12. One-child households have doubled over the last two decades making it one of the fastest growing family units in most European countries. But is it really beneficial to be an only child in a family?On the one hand, if you are an only child, you don’t have to share your room with anybody else. As a result, these children may have friends to stay over on a regular basis. Besides, they have more privacy and no one disturbs them while they are studying. What is more, parents give all their love and care to their only child. Such children also benefit from having the family financial resources focused upon them.On the other hand, if you have a sibling, you have someone to play with or to talk to, and you’ll never feel bored or lonely. And if you get into trouble, you have someone to give you a helping hand or at least some advice. Moreover, children in large families are usually not overindulged by their parents. Kids learn at the very early age that the world doesn’t revolve around them and that they have to share their possessions or wait for their turn.In conclusion, I want to say that one-child families have their pros and cons. Personally, I believe that having a brother or a sister is an amazing feeling, because no matter what happens in life, you will not be lonely and you will always have someone to share your thoughts and feelings.

Task 13. Fast food restaurants are becoming increasingly popular nowadays, especially among teenagers. But have you ever stopped to think how fast food affects your health?On the one hand, fast food is very convenient, because you do not have to wait for a long time until your food is prepared. It is especially useful for people who do not like to cook. In addition, fast food is rather inexpensive, which is very important for teenagers who usually do not have much pocket money. What is more, there are a lot of fast food restaurants such as McDonalds all over the world so you may be sure that you will have good quality meal in almost every country.On the other hand, this kind of food is not nutritious because it is high in fat, which is believed to be one of the major causes of obesity and heart disease. Besides, it is loaded with calories because fries, burgers, nuggets and other items you can find at fast food establishments are usually three times larger than the amount you should be consuming. Moreover, fast food may be addictive as the high levels of salt and sugar content found in most fast food items cause the brain to seek them out.As for me, I think that fast food is rather harmful to our health so I prefer home-made meals. In conclusion, I want to say that everybody should make their own choices whether to eat junk food or healthy food.

Task 14. Nowadays many people think they are too fat even if their doctors disagree. They think the best way to improve their fitness is following a diet. But is dieting really so effective and healthy?On the one hand, if you want to lose weight it is very important to keep your eye on what you eat. To begin with, you should cut out snacks and desserts, which add weight without boosting energy levels. Besides, you ought to cut down on fat as it is believed to be one of the major causes of obesity. Finally, you may count the number of calories you eat every day, which may substantially reduce the amount of food you eat and help to lose weight.On the other hand, strict dieting may be dangerous. Firstly, the lower the calories eaten per day, the harder it is to get the daily requirements of proteins and vitamins. In addition, excessive dieting causes muscle loss and this loss may be from your heart with severe consequences. Moreover, dieting lowers your metabolic rate, so when you return to your normal food intake, you will put on weight even faster than before.To conclude, I believe that to stay healthy everybody should follow a sensible, well-balanced diet that gives their body exactly what it needs. However, I think the best way of keeping fit is doing sports. If you do regular exercise, you can eat and drink whatever you want because you are burning it all off.

Task 15. Genetically modified crops have made a big splash in the news lately. For example, in Honduras farmers are encouraged to produce genetically modified (GM) crops although many people dispute about harmful effects of genetic technologies.On the one hand, genetic technology is one of the best solutions to the problem of world hunger. GM crops are faster and cheaper to grow therefore it will be possible to increase production and lower the cost of food. Besides, these crops could be grown in areas suffering from drought and salt. More than that, many people rely on genetically modified foods for medicines, for example insulin for diabetics.On the other hand, there is a possibility that introducing a gene into a plant may have an unexpected and negative impact on human health, for instance, it may create a new allergen and cause an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals. In addition, since some crops are modified using the DNA from viruses and bacteria, we may encounter new diseases. Moreover, GM crops may also pose a health risk to animals that eat them as they may be poisoned by built-in pesticides.In conclusion, I would like to say that many people feel that genetic engineering is the inevitable wave of the future and that we cannot afford to ignore a technology that has such enormous potential benefits. However, we must proceed with caution to avoid causing unintended harm to human health and the environment as a result of our enthusiasm for this powerful technology.

Task 16. We often hear a statement that the health of modern teenagers is much worse than that of their counterparts who lived fifty years ago. But is it really so?In my opinion, nowadays young people are not as healthy as they used to be. To begin with, young people today eat lots of genetically modified and junk food, which is definitely harmful. Besides, modern teenagers often smoke, drink alcohol and take drugs, which leads to serious diseases. What is more, lots of teenagers are addicted to computers or watch TV all day long instead of walking and doing sports. As a result, many young people are overweight and suffer from heart diseases.However, many people ignore these facts claiming that teenagers’ health is steadily improving due to modern health care and better nutrition. Of course, young people do not die today of such diseases as pneumonia and tuberculosis but their health is definitely getting worse because they breathe polluted air, drink polluted water and eat food with different harmful additives. Additionally, teenagers usually ignore their parents’ advice to eat healthy food and eat what they want or even skip meals. What is more, we must admit that today we are threatened by such incurable diseases as AIDS or hepatitis.In conclusion, I want to say that our society should pay more attention to the health of younger generation because they are the basis of our future development. I strongly believe that teenagers should be actively involved in various health projects.

Task 17. In the USSR almost all medical care was guaranteed by the state and was free of charge. Nowadays only a small part of it is covered by state insurance. In other cases people have to pay for their medical expenses or to buy private health insurance. Is it right?In my opinion, the government should have overall responsibility for people’s health. Firstly, those people who work pay enough taxes for the government to ensure sufficient health care for everybody and the authorities should provide money to keep medical service at a proper level. In addition, disabled people who do not work and have no money to pay for their treatment should not be underprivileged. Finally, medications are getting more and more expensive that is why not all people can afford to pay for the required medical care.However, there are people who think private health insurance will provide better health care than state insurance. I think the quality of health care does not depend on who pays for your expenses but depends on the development of medicine in the country. What is more, private insurance companies may go bankrupt and people will not get any medical help at all.In conclusion, I strongly believe that in a democratic society everybody should have the right to health insurance. Of course, people ought to be responsible for their health and avoid bad habits or do sports. But if they need medical help, the government must provide them with proper treatment and medications.

Task 18. Holidays are an essential part of our culture but not all people understand the importance of their celebrations. They consider any celebration as a waste of time. Are they right?To my mind, we should celebrate holidays because they help to keep up our traditions and to preserve our culture. I also think it is a good chance to bring the family together and to meet all your friends and relatives. What is more, there is a special atmosphere behind each holiday and it is a good opportunity to make people happy.Yet not all people enjoy celebrations. They are not interested in ancient traditions and think that holidays are just an excuse for spending money or making it. I do not think they are right because it is very important that traditions do survive in the country as they help to define who people are. Of course people spend lots of money on presents. However, it is not only the present that counts, but also the fact that people greet each other and share the joy of the day.Personally, I enjoy celebrations. For me, a holiday is not just a day off but a special occasion and I usually prepare for it beforehand. I like the spirit of a holiday and always try and keep the traditions connected with it. To conclude, I want to say that holidays are a very important part of our lives because they help to bring generations together.

Task 19. There is a lot of violence in the modern world. Although prisons keep us safe from dangerous criminals, they do not completely solve the problem of crime.In my opinion, people should find more effective punishments for criminals than prison because imprisonment in fact works adversely against crime. First of all, prisoners face horrible conditions such as inadequate medical care or abuse by guards, which, coupled with an environment of criminal peers, often make prisoners more violent than when they went in. In addition, some criminals learn in prison how to commit worse crimes. What is more, they are released with only a few roubles in their pockets and a perspective of being unemployed. As a result, most ex-prisoners commit a crime again.Yet some people consider prisons to be the most effective punishment for criminals. They also believe that prisons protect people from those who might harm us. Although murderers and other violent criminals deserve being sent to prison, a vast majority of prisoners are locked up for non-violent crimes such as low level property crimes. In this case they only need help finding jobs. Moreover, some people who commit crimes are mentally ill and doctors can help them much more than prisons.In conclusion, I believe that prisons are necessary for criminals who are a real danger to society. It may be better if less dangerous criminals receive different punishments, such as community service or a fine. Rehabilitation programmes cost far less and are more effective than prisons.

Task 20. At one time capital punishment was used in almost every part of the globe, but over the last few decades many countries have abolished it. However, many people consider the death penalty to be the best punishment for murderers.There are several arguments in favour of capital punishment. First of all, the death penalty acts as a deterrent. In other words, people are afraid of committing crimes as long as the death penalty exists. Besides, the punishment should fit the crime therefore the appropriate punishment for murder is death. Finally, capital punishment is truly cost effective when compared with the cost of life imprisonment.On the other hand, killing a person is inhumane and society should show how much it values a life by never killing anybody, even murderers. A second argument against capital punishment is that sometimes innocent people are found guilty. If they are imprisoned, they can be released. This cannot happen if they have already been executed. What is more, criminals can have different reasons for murder so it is unjust to apply capital punishment to all murderers. To sum up, there are several good arguments both to support and oppose capital punishment. Although it seems reasonable to apply death penalty to the most violent criminals, we ought to do it with great caution. I personally believe that people should focus on the reasons of crimes rather than on their punishment.

Task 21. Most people understand that without knowledge of foreign languages it is difficult to survive in the modern world. Therefore they send their children to schools where they can study two or even three foreign languages. However, is it good to study several languages simultaneously?On the one hand, foreign languages are the main part of our culture so they help us to expand our outlook. We cannot broaden our minds if we see the world only from the perspective of our own culture. In addition, learning languages is a good exercise for the intellect. Moreover, if pupils know at least one foreign language, they learn new languages much faster.On the other hand, many pupils find it confusing to learn two or three languages at a time, especially languages that are similar, because children usually mix up lots of words. Besides, some languages are tricky enough to learn. For example, in English there are more exceptions than rules. In this case, children can be overloaded with homework. More than that, some pupils do not know their native language well and learning several foreign languages could prevent them from mastering their own language.In conclusion, I want to say that learning languages is extremely beneficial and I would like to know different foreign languages. However, I believe children should not learn too many languages at the same time so as not to get confused. They ought to get a solid base in one language before they start learning a new one.