Урок №18

В этом уроке мы представляем анализ сочинения в виде воображаемой беседы между студентом, который готовится к сдаче экзамена TOEFL, и его преподавателем.

Сначала прочитайте сочинение (TOEFL writing question # 115), по поводу которого состоится данная беседа.

Should governments spend more money on improving roads and highways, or should governments spend more money on improving public transportation (buses, trains, subways)? Why? Use specific reasons and details to develop your essay.

If I were king for a day, there would be no more cars. I despise cars and I hate the fact that they are the most common means of transportation. Therefore, if the question should arise of whether government funds should be spent on improving roads or improving public transportation, I would definitely choose the latter. My strong opposition to cars can be explained in a few simple examples of the harm they cause to society.

First of all, cars are the number one polluters of our environment. Harmful emissions from cars are largely responsible for the giant holes in the ozone layer. Cars also pump harmful toxins into the air which form acid rain – rain which is laden with deadly chemicals that destroy our lakes, rivers, and other water reservoirs. If we do not stop the kind of pollution caused by car exhaust, we may soon be unable to live on this planet.

Secondly, the production and operation of cars waste a huge portion of the earth’s natural resources. The amount of metal, plastic, rubber and other materials required to meet production demands each year is phenomenal. Worst of all, cars are eating up our reserves of nonrenewable fuels like oil. Once all the earth’s supply of oil is gone, it cannot be replaced. No wonder wars around the world are being fought over the control of oil deposits.

On a more personal level, car exhaust affects the individual’s health and safety in frightening ways. In some modern cities, a person cannot even go jogging without doing serious damage to his or her lungs. It is no longer an uncommon sight in some major world cities to see people wearing gas masks in the city center. Above all, driving cars can be deadly: the number of traffic fatalities that occur every year are enough to rival the number of soldiers killed in war.

Some of the damage cars have caused to the earth and to the lives of many people is already irrevocable. However, by breaking our dependence on cars, we may be able to stop polluting our environment at such a terrifying pace. Thus, it is critical that we spend money on improving public transportation – or even offering free public transportation! – so that people will prefer riding subways, buses, commuter trains, etc., to traveling in their cars.

А теперь обратимся к анализу сочинения, который представлен в виде вопросов студента и ответов преподавателя.

(S – Student, T – Teacher)

S: What is the writer’s primary purpose?
T: To answer all parts of the question asked.

S: What are the parts of the question?
T: In this case, three things are involved: the two sides of the transportation issue (private and public means of transportation); saying which approach the writer would prefer; giving reasons for this choice.

S: Does the writer respond to all these?
T: Yes. The introduction mentions the disagreement on this issue and indicates the writer’s opinion, which consists in his or her strong opposition to cars because of the harm they cause. It also indicates that the writer’s choice will be supported with some specific examples. Thus, the introduction responds to all three parts of the question. It clearly shows the general topic of the essay and the plan of its discussion. Paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 respond to the third part of the question. The last paragraph responds to the second part. It includes a summary of the arguments and a conclusion to the discussion.

S: But surely the task is not only to simply answer the question?
T: Of course. The first essential is to make sure you address all parts of the question, but that is only the first step. The real objective is to show that you can express your opinion in writing in a clear and logical way.

S: How does the writer do that here?
T: In the first place, the structure of each paragraph is clear and easy to follow.

S: What makes you say that the structure of each paragraph is easy to follow?
T: Firstly, each paragraph has a topic sentence (the first sentence in each case, as it happens). And each topic sentence is supported by an explanation. Then, there is a clear relationship between all the parts and the whole essay. For this purpose, the writer uses logical indicators to the reader ("first of all" , "secondly" , "on a more personal level" ), which show how the writer changes from one subject to another when he or she changes paragraphs. These transitions also show how the new topic is related to the old and to the essay as a whole.

S: All right. The structure is clear. What about the level of English?
T: That’s important, of course. But remember that only two of the six criteria for scoring your essay refer to the language itself. It is certainly not necessary for your essay to contain English as complex as this writer uses. The secret is: think clearly and use only a level of language you feel confident with.

В следующем уроке мы продолжим знакомство с общими принципами написания сочинений и с критериями их оценки.

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