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.