Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TOEFL essay

It is important to keep up with the latest fashions.

There are a lot of people who point out that fashion is a way of communicating with others and, to some extent, a nonverbal symbolism of external expression. They act like fashion industry agents, which use all possible methods to convince us that it is important to keep up with the latest fashion. In my opinion, we should not follow the latest trends in fashion and spend our time and money satisfying the greedy interests of the fashion industry.

First, if we all try to keep up with the latest fashion trends it creates a situation in which everyone is wearing the clothing of the same style and color. We may lose our individuality when trying to fit in with the crowd. The latest fashion threatens our creativity and personality. The latest trends simply stifle our way of thinking. Moreover, we should all bear in mind that the very aim of the fashion industry is not to teach us style, but to trick us into buying “fashionable” things--things that may not make you beautiful, but will definitely add some unnecessary expense to your budget.

Secondly, the fashion industry often relies on leather, fur, and other animal products. Many people prefer clothes made from these natural materials. However, they should not forget that they become accomplices in killing of animals when buying a leather jacket, a fur coat, or a pearl necklace. When you purchase such products you also create demand for them and thus encourage the murder of rare and helpless animals.

In conclusion, we should not succumb to temptation to keep up with the latest fashion trends. It does not make sense to abandon your own style and follow a trend just because everyone around you keeps saying you must do it. We should be aware of the fact that the fashion industry is a danger to the environment. You should wear clothes that look good on you and that suit you best. You should keep away from the latest fashion and preserve your own uniqueness.

Monday, September 28, 2009

TOEFL essay

It is acceptable for parents to use physical force to discipline their children.

If asked, most parents would say that they do not use physical force to discipline their children. However, what people say in public does not necessarily reflect what they actually think. Many parents do use physical force when there is no other option left but tend to conceal this fact. To my way of thinking, physical force is not only a good way of disciplining children when they misbehave, but also an important part of sound and healthy approach to raising children. In fact, the harder you hit a child, the more likely the little bastard will listen to you next time around.

First, sometimes children can be unbearable, especially when they ignore their parents and teachers. Children can behave very badly – they can bully other children and break toys. They may be disrespectful to their elders, older siblings, or school teachers. Parents may do their best to try to convince a child that such behavior is inappropriate, but this gentle approach simply does not work. A child does not realize how his behavior affects other people. Nor does he see the extent of discomfort or pain he brings to them. Allowing a child’s misbehavior to go unpunished gives him or her confidence to do it again and again. Thus, this is where a coercive approach comes into place and nips the problem in the bud.

Secondly, people who advocate against the use of physical force often point out that physical discipline somehow may result in serious injuries to a child’s body and may leave scars or other lasting marks. However, you do not need to use a belt or a bat to punish your child. A few slaps would be enough to get the job done. You can use a rod, which is an effective way of making the punishment more memorable without inflicting serious injuries.

In conclusion, there is nothing wrong with using physical force to discipline a child. Physical force, of course, should not be the only means of correcting children’s behavior. It must be used only as a last resort, when words prove to be ineffective. Parents should also take care when using something to spank their children with.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

TOEFL essay

It is not important to study history.

History is a discipline that, at first glance, has no practical application in our results-focused world. This is why some people argue that there is no point in studying history. However, I think that history is worth learning. It has a paramount significance to society and can teach us a lot. It also helps us solve day-to-day problems.

First, history is a very important subject in the education of youngsters. By studying the history of their own country, children learn many facts about the place they happen to live. Many countries have faced both good and bad times throughout their history. When children study their country’s history, they find out about a lot of mighty achievements their country accomplished in the past, achievements they can be proud of. To put it simply, it is a way of fostering patriotisms in the younger generation. It is obvious that history should be included in the curriculum at all high schools. You cannot really consider yourself a citizen of your country if its history remains an unexplored territory to you. This does not mean, of course, that governments should resort to using history as a ‘tool’ for manipulating the masses. Instead, they should use historical records in order to inspire people to understand the national values.

Secondly, history offers a great deal of valuable information that may help us to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. History gives us clues to understanding how we got to the point where we are now. It would not be much of an exaggeration to say that history ensures continued progress. For instance, the social benefits that many people take for granted nowadays were not possible a hundred years ago. In some countries there were no such things as an eight-hour workday and minimum wage. People had to work up to 16 hours a day and were paid so little that they could barely make ends meet. This allowed businessmen to make more money and increase productivity. However, such an exploitive approach to workers was shortsighted and eventually resulted in revolt. The social institutions were destroyed and businesses suffered greatly. History may tell us a lot about how society functions and what human nature is. We should not ignore the lessons history presents but learn them to the benefit of society.

In conclusion, history requires our attention. History is indispensable when it comes to creating and nurturing stable institutions in society. Moreover, studying history is a useful way of preventing society from committing the same mistakes again. We must not downplay the importance of history; we should study it and use it wisely to make our life better.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TOEFL essay

A successful life is a happy life.

It may seem easy to think of a successful life as a happy life. However, there are a lot of stories of people who worked their fingers to the bone to become successful but later found the success did not make them happy. Their seemingly successful life is far from happy.

First, we usually tend to see only one side of someone’s success and quite often overlook any psychological problems involved. There are people who are considered successful by others but, in fact, are still unhappy with their life. Some of these people are not satisfied with their achievements and simply yearn for more – more money, more popularity, or just more everything they already have. Their unrealistic ambition or jealousies of others’ success make them feel unsettled and moody. Their constant obsession with their neighbors’ achievements keeps them worried about their own status in life. They continue working toward reaching more ambitious goals at all cost. This approach to life does not allow them to enjoy life itself.

Secondly, when you become successful and popularity is thrust upon you, it can be difficult to continue living the way you are used to. It may be hard to retain privacy in your life, because everyone tries to delve into your private life. The public literally wants to have a piece of you, and the media shadows you all the time. All this may negatively affect your mental well-being. This is why we have heard so many stories about stars experiencing depression or emotional breakdowns.

In addition, some mighty achievements may create a false picture of a so-called successful life. With all that accompanies a successful life, such as public admiration and wealth, one’s private life may actually be full of tragedy and misfortune. People may find it hard to balance the pressure of being successful with a miserable private life that the public might not be aware of. For instance, Marilyn Monroe appeared to be very successful. Her personal wealth still pays five million dollars a year in interest. However, she failed in her attempts to create a happy family. Her widespread popularity, which so many people dream of, did not make her happy. On the contrary, it eventually killed her.

In conclusion, it is not always possible to equate a successful life to a happy life. In some cases, success often leads people to become obsessed with the thoughts of being more famous and having more money. Moreover, many successful celebrities simply have no freedom, and the scrutiny of the public prevents them from living a happy life. Sometimes people have to pay an immense price for being successful, a price that wipes out any joy and happiness that such success brings.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

TOEFL essay

It's more important to study and learn than to do exercise and play sports.

It goes without saying that education is indispensable for achieving success in many fields. It is easy to assume that exercise and sports come second to studying and learning; however, we should not underestimate the impact which physical activity has on our life. Exercise and sports benefit us in many ways.

First, regular physical exercise helps prevent serious medical problems such as heart attacks, obesity, and diabetes. Scientists have proven that exercising on a regular basis may significantly reduce your blood cholesterol level, which reduces the risk of developing dangerous heart conditions. You can hardly live a happy life if your health does not allow you to enjoy the life around you. You may not be satisfied with an outstanding career at all if you paid for that success with your health.

Secondly, regular exercise not only keeps you healthy, but also keeps you looking good. No matter how many times it has already been said that we should not judge a book by its cover, our society places a lot of value on how we look. The fact of the matter is that an attractive appearance is blessing that makes life easier when it comes to private life or career development. Moreover, scientific research has clearly shown that physical activity is instrumental in prolonging life and maintaining mental acuity. In old age you will be grateful to your wise parents, who got you into the habit of doing sport and thus made your life healthier and longer.

Finally, our body needs strength to cope with everyday stress, and regular exercise helps develop this resistance. When, for instance, we are working out in a gym, jogging, or swimming the level of serotonin in the brain, the substance responsible for boosting your mood or reducing pain, increases. This is a natural way of preventing depression and adverse impact of stressful events that we sometimes experience.

In conclusion, sports and exercises let us lead a healthy life, keep our body in a good shape improving our appearance, and extend the lifespan.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

TOEFL essay

It is not important to know about what a politician does in his personal life.

It may be difficult sometimes for a politician to escape scrutiny of his or her private life. The more popular a politician is the more people want to know how that politician behaves in private. Many people believe that paying such close attention to a politician’s personal life is justified. In my view, the public should not care a lot about how a politician behaves in private life.

For one thing, a politician’s private life does not necessarily reflect what he or she will do when entrusted with power. They think what happens in a politician’s private life has a significant impact on his or her approach to governing. In some cases people who govern us may demonstrate exemplary moral standards in their personal life. They may never have extramarital affairs or do anything that questions their integrity. However, how they use power has nothing to do with family life. Let us take, for instance, the Nazis. Some of them were trustworthy people who never cheated on their spouses. They cared for their families and loved their children but went to work every day to kill and torture those whom they considered inferior to Aryans. Thus, we should not exaggerate the importance of misdeeds somebody demonstrates in his or her personal life.

Second of all, a politician’s achievements may simply outweigh the inadequacies in his or her personal life. The positive impact that a politician has on society may be so immense that people will still like him or her and turn a blind eye to some personal acts that go beyond social norms. For instance, most Canadians praise Tommy Douglas, who set up the free health care system in Canada. Douglas’ popularity towers over all other well-known Canadians. Although I know nothing at all about his personal life, Douglas is a clear example of the extent to which political accomplishments may outshine indecent behavior in private life.

In conclusion, we should not be so judgmental when it comes to politicians. It is important to judge a politician by political achievements in public life rather than by personal shortcomings in private life.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

TOEFL essay

Sometimes it is important to do things that you do not want to do.

It has been noted ironically that almost every medicine or anything that is good for the health tastes bad. In contrast, tasty food usually is detrimental to the health. The same is true for many things we usually prefer not to do. However, we have to do these things because they have a positive impact on our life.

Let us take, for instance, regular medical check-ups. One of the most unpleasant and fearful things, which a lot of people postpone to the last moment, is a visit to the dentist. For many people this fear stems from their early childhood, when a dentist and pain meant the same thing. Nevertheless, it is a very well known fact that regular check-ups keep your teeth in a good condition. If you get into the habit of avoiding regular visits to the dentist, you will soon suffer the consequences. You may end up needing to get some of your teeth removed because they can no longer be saved. Moreover, the cost associated with the treatment of teeth in a neglected condition is usually high. This is a clear example of why some things need to be done even though we look for any possible excuse to avoid doing them.

Going school is yet another example of something we all have to do but sometimes do not enjoy. For example, many students know that not all required classes are always interesting. Sometimes a particular course may be so boring and unrelated to their major that they would like to drop it. However, they still have to take the class and learn the material. It may be very important to learn to appreciate that subject just for a while in order to pass the exam and not hurt your grades. In some cases, good grades are really important. A graduate school may deny you admission because of a not-so-impressive academic performance.

In conclusion, it goes without saying that we all should sometimes do what we do not like doing. The reality of life is not always pleasant, and we are never asked whether or not we like what it has to offer. We would be wise not to shirk important things such as school or health.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

TOEFL essay

An educated person is an intelligent person.

It may be easy to assume that an educated person is always an intelligent person. However, this is not necessarily the case. There are people who are educated but show little or no sign of intelligence. Their intelligence simply does not reflect their education. This is because education and intelligence are two completely different things.

First of all, an educated person is one who has acquired a certain amount of knowledge from books or from other people. This person may have a deep understanding of a particular subject and be able to say a lot about the things she or he has learnt. However, this fact itself does not necessarily mean that you are dealing with an intelligent person. This person may not exhibit intelligence at all. For instance, a friend of mine is an avid reader. He devours books one after another at a remarkable speed. He knows so many things that I can hardly imagine how it is possible for a brain to retain such a vast amount of information. However, his erudition does not help him when it comes to everyday matters. It seems he never applies his knowledge, never takes advantage of it, and never assimilates/uses it in a way to develop something truly original.

In addition, it is obvious that an intelligent person is someone who is capable of solving problems. There are many examples of people who are not well educated yet act in a conspicuously intelligent manner and can find solutions that most educated people have simply overlooked. A lot of educated people are unable to pick up on things that an innately intelligent person can. For instance, Michel Dell, who is, without a doubt, a very gifted businessman, dropped out of university as a freshman when he came up with a new approach to selling personal computers. He has earned billions of dollars. He has taken advantage of an idea that a giant company like IBM simply ignored.

In conclusion, the fact that a person is educated should not be the only indication of his or her intelligence. Intelligence is a characteristic that allows one to capitalize on acquired knowledge and distinguishes him or her from what many people, ironically, call a “walking encyclopedia”.

Friday, September 4, 2009

TOEFL essay

Instant food has improved our quality of life by making it quicker and easier to prepare meals.

The technological advances of the past decades have affected many aspects of human life. Indeed, not even the most mundane of tasks have been left untouched by technical innovation. Food preparation is a good case in point. Nowadays we do not need to spend so much time in our kitchens preparing meals. In my view, this time savings, without a doubt, has made our life better so that we can take full advantage of it.

In fact, it is difficult to imagine how much work was involved in preparing meals a hundred years ago. There were no supermarkets offering different kinds of preprocessed food. People had to buy many basic ingredients such as meat, vegetables, and cereals in the market and then cut, chop, boil, and stew all that stuff to make it edible. It was a tedious and lengthy process. The fate of many women of those times revolved around housework, and cooking was a major reason why they had no opportunity to liberate themselves from their daily chores.

In this day and age, however, modern life is more merciful to a woman. Thanks to the many time-saving solutions that the food industry now offers, a woman does not need to be tied up in the kitchen all the time. A typical everyday meal can be easily prepared from precooked/ready-made food products. Both men and women now can spend more time on more important activities such as building a career, playing with their children, or doing sports.

In addition, simplified food preparation has had an impact on our recreational activities too. People no longer have to take a lot of things with them to prepare their meals when on a long trip. They can rely on canned food and thus have more time to enjoy their holiday/vacation.

To sum up, instant food has changed our life in many ways. It allows us to devote our precious time to more significant business or to the things we like the most. People may now spend more time with their families, concentrate on career development, or have a great time traveling.

TOEFL essay

The government should spend less money on space exploration.

The twentieth century witnessed tremendous breakthroughs in space exploration. Never before has humankind been able to explore our planet and other planets of the solar system with such ability. The progress has been made possible by the only institution that can afford to allocate so many billions of dollars: the government. However, nowadays some people question whether we should continue to throw away that much money on space exploration. They point out that the results are far less tangible than those of investments in other areas, and thus argue that spending on space exploration should be reduced. In my view, curtailing our space programs would be both counterproductive and short-sighted; indeed, I believe we should not only continue funding these programs, but also find ways to expand them.

First, space exploration not only satisfies scientific curiosity, but also changes our perception of life. In the middle ages, people believed that the world was flat. They had a very simple understanding of what our universe looked like. This seriously influenced many aspects of their life, such as religious beliefs, scientific inquiry, and daily activities. They could not comprehend that the structure of the universe is much more complex than their conception of it. We humans could still live in such obscurantism if there was no government funding of space exploration.

Secondly, our expensive space programs have given a lot of benefits to ordinary people. There are plenty of inventions that we are used to using on a regular basis and don’t even realize that they were made possible because of space exploration. Satellite dishes, new composite materials widely used in cars and planes, and life-saving medical devices were all either direct or indirect results of space programs. If the government had not subsidized space exploration, we might not have all the conveniences of life we enjoy today.

In conclusion, the belief that the government should limit the funding of space exploration is shortsighted. Space exploration has enriched our understanding of the world we live in and has made life easier as well. The government should not cut its spending on space exploration even though some people do not understand the benefits it brings.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

TOEFL essay

Extroverts are better leaders than introverts

There is a widely held opinion that an outgoing personality is an indispensable characteristic that every good leader must possess. Many people believe that introverts are not able to take a leadership position in society. Their disposition is simply not suitable for this. I think this is an incorrect assumption and being a successful leader does not necessarily mean you have to be an extrovert.

First of all, there is a misconception that leaders are only those who are capable of assembling people in a group and leading them to a certain goal which not all members of the group are able to understand because they lack the characteristics of a visionary leader. Of course, a person who is talkative and is energized by other people seems to be the right candidate for this task. And this is why extroverts are thriving. They seem to be created for this role. However, I do not think we should limit the notion of leadership to the ability of managing a group of people. We should not overlook the fact that introverts can also lead the people in their own way. Artists, writers and scientists whose work involves creative thinking and requires a great deal of concentration can also establish new trends and pathways for others. These people may act out of their passion and dedication to the work they are doing. They may display signs of aloofness, but people still like them and the values they bring to the table. These inward-looking people may even change the world we live in. This is what makes the notion/idea that extroverts are inherently better leaders so shallow.

In addition, extroverts, without a doubt, outnumber introverts. They are dominant among politicians, CEO, and entertainers. We live in a world run by extroverts. It is likely the very fact that there are so many successful extroverts around has convinced people to consider them better leaders. It is hard for a person who easily gets tired of talking with people to demonstrate his or her talent for leadership. But that does not necessarily mean that this talent is somehow inferior to an extrovert’s.

In conclusion, extroverts outnumber introverts, but introverts may be good leaders too. Their leadership skills may manifest itself in a different way. But this difference should not downplay introverts’ ability to be good leaders.

Monday, August 31, 2009

TOEFL essay

Medical care should be free for everybody.

Many countries have debated issues related to medical care, and in some countries, such as the US, this debate is ongoing. The question is this: should medical care be free or should people have to pay for it?” I think that free medical care is a much better option for several reasons.

First of all, when people have to pay for the medical care it leaves many of them without any medical treatment at all simply because not all of the people can afford it. It goes without saying that rich people have access to any kind of treatment regardless of cost. But people who have much lower incomes suffer greatly and are unable to pay their medical bills. They sometimes have no other choice than to die. There are plenty of examples of people who are denied treatment because they do not have insurance that would cover the cost of the treatment.

Second of all, free medical care is a much more effective way of providing people with treatment. This medical care is actually not entirely free. Such universal medical care is subsidized by taxes. Citizens pay small, affordable sums of money allowing medical care to be free for everybody. In my view, it is quite a fair and efficient system that brings more sense of security to the people and makes the whole nation healthier. Many countries, such as France, England, and Canada, have chosen this type of system, which has made it possible to increase the life expectancy to higher than in the US, where medical care is not free.

In conclusion, I believe that free medical care ensures that people receive medical care in times of need and this is the preferable option. Free medical care saves a lot of people's lives and creates a more humane society.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Developing good English

This is a text from the TOEFL official materials. I find this text extremely helpful in developing one’s ability to express the thoughts in written English. This is an example of how good written language should look like.

In many organizations, perhaps the best way to approach certain new projects is to assemble a group of people into a team. Having a team of people attack a project offers several advantages. First of all, a group of people has a wider range of knowledge, expertise, and skills than any single individual is likely to possess. Also, because of the numbers of people involved and the greater resources they possess, a group can work more quickly in response to the task assigned to it and can come up with highly creative solutions to problems and issues. Sometimes these creative solutions come about because a group is more likely to make risky decisions that an individual might not undertake. This is because the group spreads responsibility for a decision to all the members and thus no single individual can be held accountable if the decision turns out to be wrong.
Taking part in a group process can be very rewarding for members of the team. Team members who have a voice in making a decision will no doubt feel better about carrying out the work that is entailed by that decision than they might doing work that is imposed on them by others. Also, the individual team member has a much better chance to “shine,” to get his or her contributions and ideas not only recognized but recognized as highly significant, because a team’s overall results can be more far-reaching and have greater impact than what might have otherwise been possible for the person to accomplish or contribute working alone.

New online learning resources

Some of the best online resources for English learners I have ever seen:
- http://www.englishdaily626.com
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/
However, the second website is solely devoted to the British English language and contains a lot of idiomatic expressions that may not be intelligible to the native speakers of Northern American English. So, it’s necessary to be aware of that fact when learning and using idioms from that websites.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Ages ago God was bestowing the life to living creatures and every animal had been gifted with fifty years of living on the Earth. Enough. But the man was the last to come. God had only twenty five years left.
The Man resented, - Why so little?
God answered, - It’s enough.
No, the man said, - I need more.
God replied, - Go and ask somebody. Maybe someone has an excess of life and will give you some.
The man left and met a horse on his way. Well, he said,
- I have so short life. Please, give me a bit of yours.
- Ok, take twenty five years.
The man goes farther and meets a dog.
-Dog, give me some of your life.
-Ok, - the dog said, - take twenty five years.
The man goes father and meets a monkey and asks her for another twenty five years.
Then he goes back to God and God tells him.
- So, be it. The first twenty five years you will live like a man. The next twenty five you will work like a horse. The third twenty five you will be barking like a dog. And during the last remaining part everyone will be laughing at you as if you were a monkey.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New words to memorize


in the run-up to the elections

wayward = 1. following one's own capricious, wanton, or depraved
inclinations: ungovernable (a wayward child)
2. opposite to what is desired or expected : untoward
(wayward fate)

haul = 1a. to exert traction on : draw (haul a wagon)
2b. to obtain or move by or as if by hauling (was hauled
to parties night after night by his wife
1c. to transport in a vehicle : cart

peeve = to make peevish or resentful : annoy

vitriol = something felt to resemble vitriol especially in caustic quality; especially : virulence of feeling or of speech

jot down = write down succinctly

genial = marked by or diffusing sympathy or friendliness (your genial host)

deterrence = the inhibition of criminal behavior by fear especially of punishment

circuitous[sə'kjuːɪtəs] = 1 : having a circular or winding course (a circuitous route)
2 : not being forthright or direct in language or action (a circuitous explanation)

rectify ['rektɪfaɪ] = to correct by removing errors

ostensibly = 1 : in an ostensible manner
2 : to all outward appearances
ripple effect = волновой эффект

disconcert = 1 : to throw into confusion (disconcerting measures )
2 : to disturb the composure of

reprehensible = Deserving rebuke or censure; blameworthy

fallout = An incidental result or side effect

girth = a measure around a body (a man of more than average girth) (the girth of a tree)


convalesce[ˌkɔnvə'les] = to recover health and strength gradually after sickness or weakness


complicity[kəm'plɪsətɪ] = 1 : association or participation in or as if in a wrongful act
2 : an instance of complicity


vertigo = dizziness

week's worth of food

sway = To swing back and forth or to and fro; To fluctuate, as in outlook.

slap-up = Brit informal (esp. of meals) large and expensive

saddle = a girthed usually padded and leather-covered seat for the rider of an animal.
Don't try to saddle your dirty work on me!

fungible = being of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in the satisfaction of an obligation (oil, wheat, and lumber are fungible commodities).
For fungible goods and materials producers are not obliged to physically separate stocks from originating and non-originating sources so as to trace back the origin of different sources for origin determination purposes.

Caught red-handed = To be caught in the act of committing a misdemeanour, with the evidence there for all to see.

tempestuous[tem'pestjuəs] Her relationship with Greece may have been as tempestuous as her love affair with Aristotle Onassis.

cohesive group

bode = 1 archaic : to announce beforehand : foretell
2 : to indicate by signs : presage
That doesn't bode well for the sustainability of the current boom. (Newsweek)

aggrieved = 1 : troubled or distressed in spirit
2 a : suffering from an infringement or denial of legal rights b : showing or expressing grief, injury, or offense
But I am aggrieved by their shameful inclusion of American Indians in their lament.

unwieldy = not easily managed, handled, or used (as because of bulk, weight, complexity, or awkwardness) : cumbersome.
Is Apple's App Store Getting Too Unwieldy?

unfetter[ʌn'fetə] = 1. to release from fetters, bonds, etc.
2. to release from restraint or inhibition
Unfetter your mind!

laissez-faire[ˌleɪseɪ'fɛə] = 1 : a doctrine opposing governmental interference in economic affairs beyond the minimum necessary for the maintenance of peace and property rights

indisposition = 1. Disinclination; unwillingness.
2. A minor ailment.
The sudden indisposition of the former Chief Minister S. Bangarappa while addressing an election meeting at Ganganagar in Gulbarga South Assembly constituency led to a minor commotion at the venue and concern among the Congress leaders on Wednesda.

amenable[ə'miːnəbl] = responsible, obedient

do away with = 1. To make an end of; eliminate.
2. To destroy; kill.
So When Does Apple Do Away With Hard Drives?

leery['lɪərɪ] = suspicious, wary —often used with of . Some travelers leery of all Florida beaches, no matter how far from oil spill.

back out of = to withdraw especially from a commitment or contest. Can i back out of a mortgage loan if i already signed the disclosures?

brush aside = Disregard, ignore. Swiss brush aside criticism over gas contract with Iran.

play into the hands of = to give someone an advantage. US tactics in Yemen play into the hands of Al Qaida.

bungle['bʌŋgl] = to act or work clumsily and awkwardly. NATIONAL Australia Bank's plan to move 400-odd IT jobs to IBM has been delayed by the computer bungle that left millions of people out of pocket.

appease[ə'piːz] = to bring to a state of peace or quiet : calm. Churchill was ready to make peace with Soviet Russia on the best terms available to appease the general situation.

ramp up = buildup, increase. to ramp up production to 15,000 units per month. Ramp up is a term used in economics and business to describe an increase in firm production ahead of anticipated increases in product demand

to make the varsity — поступить в университет. I'm in 10th grade and hoping to make Varsity this year for my school.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Contemplating about Learning English 2.

It all begins with the clouds of dust that are countless in our universe. The turbulence that exists inside these clouds results into knots containing high concentration of gases. These knots are so dense that the mutual gravitational forces among the gas molecules led to the growth of the infant star, called protostar, by sucking the substance in it. Through this accretion process the pressure in the center of the new star reaches so high magnitude that the material in the center begins heating up and eventually triggers the nuclear fusion and the release of energy that makes the star shine.

But the stars differ in their glittering abilities. Not all of them can attain sufficient brightness to be visible in the night sky. Some of the stars, named by astronomers brown dwarfs, glow quite feebly. This process of star formation somehow reminds me what the foreign language learners usually experience with their language studies.

We all, human beings, have the ability to speak and thus to learn a new language. Some people are born with natural linguistic aptitude and can master a foreign language remarkably quickly. However, most of us are not endowed with an innate cognitive capacity for learning languages and we begin to penetrate the complexity of a foreign language by assimilating new grammar rules and absorbing new words and phrases. We gradually learn how to pronounce the words correctly and how to write using a good style of language. The new words, expressions, idioms flow into our brain until one day our mind reaches critical mass and we begin confidently speaking fluent language.

The foreign language acquisition takes time and sometimes tremendous exertion. However, some people are not diligent enough and, if become delinquent with their language lessons, usually never come out of the “protolanguage” state (very limited language skills) or just achieve moderate success in foreign language acquisition (just like those dim stars) and can barely express their thoughts with a foreign language.

So, let’s be patient and persistent in learning English and keep a positive attitude on the way towards our goal - which sometimes seems as distant as those stars twinkling through the night – to shine with stellarly fluent English!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Phrases and sentences from English books, articles and movies.

This entry is going to be a place for all useful or beautiful phrases and expressions I find worth memorizing or just reading. All these sentences and phrases are from English books, articles and movies.

I was giving you a call in regards to...
Got some good news for you
The specialist review has come back
And the decision is to overturn the previous denial.
The specialist has approved the appeal for the second Cochlear implant. (from movie "Sicko" by M.Moore)

It was necessary to retroactively cancel this agreement to the original effective date due to the omission of material medical information at the time of application.
All providers will be notified to bill the patient directly.(from movie "Sicko" by M.Moore)

He could barely contain his seething anti-Americanism.

If it persists for more than 24 hours.

There are no points for getting this process almost right.

Put you in direct alignment with everything you need in order to...

There are far too many stories of people failing to live the life they have always dreamed of.

My gray hair afforded me instant rapport with my patients.

Have a realistic appraisal of how competitive you are.

I'm still in to this habit and will be in to it.

I find that a long walk in nature is the best way to block out the busyness of life and open me up to listen to my inner spirit.

They cast the vitrol of their calumny over me.

susceptible of being exercised

Sometimes you know ahead of time...

This drug helped bring the fewer down.

It was all elaborate ruse.

You don't want to get caught in the American health system thing.

Are you in pain?

I put my shoulder out.

He needed to let to go out of his past.

It's really not that much information in the grand scheme of things

...the argument wrongly assumes that issues of educational opportunity, community vitality, and job availability have no bearing on crime.

sizeable layoff at a major nearby factory that pushed countless citizens out of work and onto the streets.

...the argument could be improved by appealing to the city’s history with fighting crime.

the argument wrongly concludes that an increase in the police force will address the root issue behind the crime

Just as it is unfair to pay for a service that is being poorly rendered

when a business or organization adopts a mentality that what matters are not results, it often fails and hurts stakeholders.

As a result of a mindset that what mattered were not results...

On the other hand, some may argue that a focus on results and success breeds corruption.

If anything good can come of the disaster at the power station, it may be to inject a sense of urgency into the renovation efforts..

It is just flat out confusing

-So let us suppose you had moved up the ladder in our pharmaceutical company, what would be your priorities in approaching your job.
-The first would be to make sure that I had the support of the people working underneath me.
The second would be to make sure my immediate boss also understood the role that i was trying to play within the company and third, would be to make sure that the customers were satisfied.

chickens come home to roost = Prov. You have to face the consequences of your mistakes or bad deeds

This type of error can immediately bring down the rating of a response because it shows that the speaker does not have a strong command of English grammar.

Wendy was careful to eat a good diet of foods

Sea bass had almost twice that level of mercury

to grin and bear it

I thought to myself...

Now, a few of these choices support the argument’s conclusion. But only one of them is actually necessary to the argument. Let’s looks at them one at a time.

It’s unfortunate, but hardly surprising, that these avoidable mistakes can result in an application being rejected.

Let’s have a listen now for some of those key phrases.

Rachel: Okay, uh, you let me go grocery shopping, and I buy laundry detergent, but it's not the one with the easy-pour spout.

Chandler: Someone's left a glass on the coffee table. There's no coaster. It's a cold drink, it's a hot day. Little beads of condensation are inching their way closer and closer to the surface of the wood...

it has been slammed by the global recession

The commission balked at freezing electricity rates for San Diegans instead asking for a federal investigation and rebates

I honestly figured I would get a decline letter, but they
called the very same day that I applied for one and I
should be getting it
in the mail by next Wednesday.

They kept going to him = They continued to turn/appeal to him

Having to work at a job that robs them of valuable time they could be using to spend on developing their acting career, auditioning or something else

...but a lot don't vocalize it because you don't want to jinx yourself

His speech was barely intelligible

to singe one's reputation

Full-thickness burns cause the skin to take on a leathery appearance.

I have found myself liberated from any number of damaging misconceptions and stereotypes.

When it comes to weight gain, the timing of your meals may be just as important as what or how much you eat.

bend over backwards

Psychiatrists would like you to believe that there is an epidemic of mental disease—and that psychotropic drugs are the remedy. They market to the public that their drugs are indispensable to the problems of everyday living. Yet psychiatrists admit they do not know the cause of or cure for any mental disorder. In fact, there is a complete absence of scientific tests to confirm a psychiatric diagnosis.

Why, then, should its future rest on its achievement?

It may seem incongruous – it certainly caught me off guard when I first heard it.

and even then you will have no way of knowing that you have hit the target exactly.

The pursuit of admission to medical school and medicine is a bit like having more than 100 pounds to lose.

on Oct. 18, 1969, the government ordered cyclamate removed from all food products.

If these people have no brain function, like you have in a cardiac arrest, I think that is the best, closest model we're going to have to study whether or not conscious experience can occur apart from the physical brain.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Contemplating about learning English.

There are myriad English language courses here in Russia and almost each of these English language schools offers a unique method of learning English. Most of them promise you a magical way to boost your English language proficiency up to an incredible level through an intensive deep immersion (which usually lasts up to one week) into English speaking environment. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Especially when you look at their impressively high prices that try to convince you that their teaching quality is also that high.
What these coaching institutes usually forget to mention is
  • that whom this ambience is comprised of – teachers and English learners with different levels of English competency. Some of these students can even barely speak English. :)

    So, don’t succumb to the temptation of believing in magic. :) Magic doesn’t work with the language! Hard work does. It doesn’t make sense to spend that much money for the opportunity to study English in a pseudo-English environment with pseudo-Native speakers. :) A good teacher, of course, is very important and you need someone who would correct your mistakes. But, even the best teacher in the world will not make your English fluent until you actively begin to work on your language by yourself. And the Internet can help you a lot in your pursuits of mastering a good spoken English. In order to be able to say that your English is fluent you must speak English without any long pauses and awkward phrases. Because even if you know thousands of English words, comprehend 100% of English speech and texts but can hardly speak, you indeed do not know English at all. What you really know is a sort of English Sanskrit :) because this type of English is nothing more than a dead language.

    Recently I’ve come across a blog - http://engspeak.blogspot.com
  • that, which contains very good lessons
  • that provide you with and lots of useful phrases. Such blogs may significantly improve your spoken language if you are doggedly persistent in making your English fluent. Practice, practice and practice, which means you have to speak, speak and speak. There are plenty of web sites out there that can help you and....they are free! And please remember - No pain, no gain!
  • Sunday, August 9, 2009


    Many people, myself included, often find it difficult to write an essay introduction. Most of the TOEFL preparation books advise you to paraphrase an initial essay question, or to put it simply, write it in your own words. I have come across three different sentences (from two different articles) that suggest similar meaning and might serve as a good example of successful paraphrasing.

    1. America is expected to remain the world’s pre-eminent economic and technological power for the next fifty years at least.

    2. Indeed it seems to me very probable that the United States will still be the world’s most powerful nation for one or two decades yet, which, in practical terms is as far ahead as it is reasonable to make predictions.

    3. But, though the position of the United States as the world’s pre-eminent power, is not likely to change, the context in which she holds that position is now certain to.

    Saturday, August 8, 2009


    Some people believe that the best way of learning about life is by listening to the advice of family and friends. Other people believe that the best way of learning about life is through personal experience. Compare the advantages of these two different ways of learning about life. Which do you think is preferable? Use specific examples to support your preference.

    There are many ways of learning about life as well as opinions which one is the most advantageous. I think that there may be no any universal rule for dealing with such types of questions and every person may have its own unique approach to these matters. Some people appeal to family or friends; others believe that personal experience is more effective when it comes to learning life skills. I believe that while family and friends can explain you a lot about life, your own experience provides the best way to prepare you for the life around you.

    First, friends and family can teach you valuable life lessons by sharing their thoughts and views with you. People who are close to us can be the most important our teachers from the very beginning of our life. They can help you avoid making mistakes based on their personal experience and lessons they have learned. If you want to achieve more in you life a little advice may have a significant impact on channeling your aspirations in the right direction. For instance, parents may explain their children that childhood is not only about playing and hanging around with friends but also is the precious time when he or she needs to acquire knowledge and survival skills to thrive in his or her future life. Parents may also warn their children that there are paths in life they should never choose and shy away from drinking, experimenting with drugs or joining a bad company because this may have serious consequences for them.

    On the other hand, family and friends is not the only source of wisdom and sometimes is not the best one. Your friends and family may try to dissuade you from doing what you want to do. They may posses a lot of experience but that doesn't mean that following your family’s or friends’ advices is always right for you. Your friends and family might not be able to see the whole picture or understand that you are indeed making the right choice. Even the best friend may derail your pursuits of a certain career because he or she tried to follow the same path but failed to make his or her dreams come true. So, it does make sense to be discreete and not to rely completely on your peers’ or parents’ experience.

    In addition, your friends’ and family’s experience may not be relevant to modern life. It may be outdated. If you try to live only up to someone’s values you may become a second edition of that person and regret later that you did not fulfill your own desires, did not realize your potential and eventually lost your true self.

    In conclusion, family and friends can pass on their life skills to us but pre-chewed food is not that tasteful as the fresh one. I think we gain courage, strength and confidence by every phase we go through. We should not scorn the value of our friends' or family's experience but should not overestimate it too and should always embrace the challenges the life presents because it forges a strong and capable person.

    Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    I like the way banks are concerned about their customers' safety

    Today I had a phone call from my bank. They said they had blocked my card. I was taken aback for a second. However, the man said that they did it because of the suspicious transaction that had appeared on my card. He said he wanted to ask me some questions before making the final decision of reissuing my card.
    Below is my dialogue with the bank manager:
    - Could you name your secret word?
    - Yes, if I haven’t changed it should be .....
    - Yes, right.
    - So, the reason we have blocked your card is because there is a particular transaction that made us alert. Let’s go through all of the transactions on your card for the last month.
    - Ok.
    - Well…the payment of XXX rubles made to… Do you confirm it?
    - Yes, I do.
    - Then goes the transaction that actually raised our concern and made us block your card. It was done through ATM. It was the balance inquiry.
    - Through ATM of which bank was it done? Bank of ….?
    - Yes, it is.
    - Yes, I remember I did make a balance inquiry but I cannot remember what the reason was for.
    - So, you did this inquiry?
    - Yes, I confirm it.
    - Ok. That’s everything we wanted to know. We are going to unblock your card. You should be able to use it within ten minutes. Thank you.
    - Thank you.

    After a while I thought that this call might be a good candidate for my blog to practice every day spoken language...
    I think if it were happening in an English environment I doubt I would be able to speak fluently. There would be a lot of stuttering and pauses in my speech.

    Saturday, July 25, 2009


    Do you think that it is wrong for people to drink alcohol and then
    drive? Do you think they should be punished?

    There have been a lot of complaints that the road accidents are increasing and the statistics clearly proves it. Many people die because of the reckless driving behavior of those who drive the car after taking some alcohol. I think this inappropriate attitude towards the safety of others should be punished according to the law.

    First of all, such irresponsible deeds should not be tolerated. People who drink and then drive are not concerned about other people. Drunk drivers are not able to think clearly. Their brain cannot process the information properly and there is a huge risk that this may result in an accident. For instance, they may think they are driving in the right direction while actually they are using the wrong lane.

    Secondly, drunk drivers are the real threat to the people around them because there are so many factors that they may not asses or react quickly. In case of bad weather conditions drunk drivers may cause a disaster when their slow reaction leads to deplorable outcomes. It happens all the time. A drunk driver being unable to evaluate the distance correctly hits another car creating chaos on the road and leaving many people injured or even dead.

    In addition, it is necessary for the government to intervene. Such rules as suspension of the drunk drivers’ licenses for a certain period of time should be implemented. Many people drive their own car on a regular basis and cannot run their errands effectively without a car. Therefore, such a punishment may be very helpful in making people aware of the road safety. Not so many drivers would like to have their driver’s license suspended.

    In summary, people should understand that it is absolutely wrong to use car in a state of being drunk. They must hold a responsibility for drunk driving and the law should be made clear about that.

    Let's see the results now...

    It was hard as usual but at least I managed to answer all the questions. Let's wait for the results. However, I will register for another test. Just in case. But why they've increased the price for Russia? It was $185. Now, it costs $225!!!

    Anyway, I think it would be better to separate the speaking section from the whole test. As it once was. It was called TSE (Test of Spoken English). In that case you wouldn't need to spend all that money and retake the sections you are already good at.

    I also think that it's not the best idea that the most difficult part of the test comes at the end of the exam when you've gone through the never-ending reading section and endless listening one and a bit tired trying not to lose the concentration when it's especially needed.

    Friday, July 24, 2009

    Some fun...

    One more way to English fluency

    These are some sentences taken from the article I came across on www.inosmi.ru. I did the following:
    1. I read the Russian sentence and then tried to translate it into English.
    2. Then I compared my translation to the original sentence in English and pasted the original sentence (they are in square brackets) directly below my variant of translation.

    It’s hard work but I find it helpful in polishing up my English.

    These are the links to both Russian and original articles:

    Earlier this month the president Barack Obama visited Moscow and reached a provisional agreement to reduce the number of nuclear and conventional weapons by both sides.
    [Earlier this month, President Barack Obama visited Moscow and signed a preliminary agreement aimed at getting both countries to reduce their nuclear and conventional weapons systems.]

    But the Russians, meanwhile, are playing a tricky game.
    [But the Russians are playing a clever game.]

    Their reduction proposal will not have impact to their defense in anyway.
    [The "cuts" they propose wouldn't actually affect their defenses at all.]

    Obama promised that USA would reduce the number of their strategic carriers, which are capable of getting both nuclear and conventional charges, up to 500-1100 (according to the current deal, USA can have 1600 carriers).
    [Obama has promised that the U.S. will reduce its number of strategic force launchers -- the systems that deliver both nuclear and conventional weapons -- to between 500 and 1,100 (the United States is permitted 1,600 launchers under a current treaty).]

    Moscow has also promised the same but it means a little since the number of Russian rockets will be diminishing without even any treaty.
    [Moscow matched that commitment, but that's not saying much, since the number of Russian weapons is going to plummet with or without a treaty.]

    By 2017-2018 Russia most likely will have less than half of its 680 working launchers, which it currently has, - said Keith Payne – Russia, which GDP is even lower than that of California, is facing the dilemma: how to keep up with the USA taking into account its deteriorating strategic launchers.
    ["By 2017-2018 Russia will likely have fewer than half of the approximately 680 operational launchers it has today," arms control expert Keith Payne recently testified before Congress. "With a gross domestic product less than that of California, Russia is confronting the dilemma of how to maintain parity with the U.S. while retiring its many aged strategic forces."]

    Obviously, the pawns to sacrifice – weapons that do not even exist or not operational – is a good way in exchange to America’s reduction of essential weapons.
    [One way, of course, is to sacrifice some pawns -- the non-existent or inoperable weapons -- to take out vital American weapons.]

    In short, the Russians have agreed to cut their launchers which they will have to dismantle anyway.
    [In short, the Russians agreed to "cut" weapons they were going to have to retire anyway.]

    The Russians do not conceal the fact about the state of their arsenals.
    [The Russians haven't made their declining stockpiles much of a secret.]

    According to Payne, the commander of Russian missile army Nicolay Sokolovcev said in an interview to Moscow news agency Interfax that under the agreement made by Russian leaders, no one missile that had not reached use-by date would not be dismantled.
    [Payne notes that Nikolay Solovtsov, the man in charge of Russian missiles, recently told Moscow Interfax-AVN Online that "not a single Russian launcher" with "remaining service life" would be withdrawn under the agreement reached with Russian leaders.]

    Thursday, July 23, 2009

    Hope it will never happen!

    This article - http://www.bfm.ru/news/2009/07/23/skajp.html - makes me feel that these people are not able to see a situation from a broad perspective. Their greed makes them blind. If they really do this - let mobile operators and Internet providers take control over Skype and ICQ - they are going to end up with millions disappointed users who will stop using Skype and ICQ and switch to alternative instant messengers. Who will win?

    What's next? E-mail???

    Round 4...

    I am going for TOEFL. I haven’t rescheduled my exam - my 4th attempt. I am very determined to pass it this time but when I think about speaking part of the test I feel fear shivering down my spine. I hope that there will be no any puzzling speaking questions that make me freeze up and stare hopelessly at the screen :); like this one – “Talk about an event from the past that you would like to relive.” However, I have worked through such type of questions. But you can never be sure what the test makers have come up with and what a surprise they have for you :)
    Yesterday, I met with my brother’s wife. She came over to Moscow for a couple of weeks to settle some issues with their flat. She said that Dasha (their daughter) did not want to speak Russian. She says that it’s much more convenient for her to use English. She sometimes doesn’t even use the endings correctly, which is not good, of course. However, I wish I had such a total immersion in English…

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    Last week I had a talk with one of my colleges at work. He told me that his friend’s father (who is a colonel in army) offered him to come over to an army base to see military exercises. Moreover, he told him that it was going to be a good chance to drive a tank, try out a submachine gun or throw grenades. I was a bit surprised and asked him how it might be possible for an ordinary person to be there and use the military equipment and ammo that are supposed to be used only by military personnel. I also asked what would happen if the top generals learned somehow that his friend’s father let a civil person enter the place intended solely for military staff and use the ammo…

    Monday, July 20, 2009

    Today I am going to answer sixteen TOEFL speaking questions. I feel that I really need to answer all the questions I have found on the Internet because they seem to be quite similar to the real TOEFL ones.
    I am still not sure whether I should reschedule my test or push my luck. However, luck is the last thing one should count on when dealing with this test. :) Actually, it doesn’t work at all in this case. But I am tired of my incessant attempts to pass this terrible exam. I have tried it 3 times already with moderate outcomes. :( I also think that I have invested too much time in preparing for the TOEFL while GMAT is even harder and actually more important for admission. However, I need at least 100 score on the TOEFL. My current 86 doesn’t look impressive at all. Given the fact that the competition is going to be fierce because many people who lost the job have decided to go back to school, it does make sense not to be satisfied with anything that lower 100 and work harder. Worker bees get the honey. :)

    Sunday, July 19, 2009

    Today I was on my way to the swimming pool when I was exiting from the subway station and witnessed a woman whose right heel of one of her high-heeled shoes got stuck in a kind of gully grating. A policeman that was standing not far from her noticed it and said.
    -You’d better watch your steps. You should have kept your heels high above.
  • As I could notice she was a bit embarrassed as well as frightened to broke that high-heel of the shoe. As I could tell she was a bit embarrassed as well as frightened to have broken the heel of her shoe. I do not know what happened next and how much time passed before she managed to free herself from the trap. I just went past her hurrying up to get to my destination.
    Maybe I am exaggerating and making a mountain out of a molehill but that case made me think that very often people stand just like that policeman saying their banal and pseudosympathetic words that do not help at all. We like to be on the safe side watching someone’s disaster from our vantage point and feeling deep inside that we should be thankful to our fate for being so lucky in comparison to others – others who need our genuine help; not the patronizing attitude which actually gives nothing but makes the situation even worse.
  • Saturday, July 18, 2009

    My name is Dmitri. I have created this blog for improving my English language skills. It is intended for being used as a study aid in polishing my English. I am going to write about anything that comes to my mind on a regular basis. My aim is to achieve the necessary fluency so that I would be able to describe any topic I want to using a perfect and grammatically correct English. These topics may include my own life, my traveling or language learning experiences, local news etc.

    Currently, I am having some problems with writing and speaking (speaking is without a doubt my primary issue). The lack of memorized language constructions for expressing my thoughts (as I call it) often makes me think too much when I want to say or write something in English. I hope that this blog will be a great way of developing the fluidity of thoughts as well as getting rid of grammar mistakes I am still making.