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:
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 -
  • 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.