Reading, Thinking and Writing (2)

 

Andy  http://wyxy.hunnu.edu.cn/lh


 

Contents

 I. Introduction

   1. News

   2. Journalistic language

 II. Reading, thinking and writing

   1.Education: The Pleasures of Learning

   2.Culture: Go Ahead, Learn Mandarin

   2.Environment: The Great Melt

                  How Virtuous is Ed Begley Jr.?

   3.People: Michael Jackson

   4.High-Tech:In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History

   5.People:China's internet godfather

   6.China:THE DRAGON STIRS

   7.International Relations: Obama's Remarks in Shanghai

   8.World/Society/Culture: How Europe sees America?                   

   9.Culture: Shanghai's Four Hot Tables

   10.Sports: Soccer's influence: Why the world 'turns around a spinning ball'

   11.International politics: US, Russia spy swap: Why London is a hotbed of spies
 

 


 

 

The Pleasures of Learning

 

By Gilbert Highet

 

1] As more schools are set up today, learning is compulsory. It is an Ought, even worse, a Must, enforced by regular hours and rigid discipline. And the young sneer at the Oughts and resist the Musts with all their energy. The feeling often lasts through a lifetime. For too many of us, learning appears to be a surrender of our own will to external direction, a sort of enslavement.

 

2] This is a mistake. Learning is a natural pleasure, inborn and instinctive, one of the essential pleasures of the human race. Watch a small child, at an age too young to have had any mental habits implanted by training. Some delightful films made by the late Dr. Arnold Gesell of Yale University show little creatures who can barely talk investigating problems with all the zeal and excitement of explorers, making discoveries with the passion and absorption of dedicated scientists. At the end of each successful investigation, there comes over each tiny face an expression of pure heartfelt pleasure.

 

3]  When Archimedes  discovered the principle of specific gravity by observing his own displacement of water in a bathtub, he leaped out with delight, shouting, "Eureka, Eureka!"(I have found it, I have found it!) The instinct which prompted his outburst, and the joy of its gratification, are possessed by all children.

 

4] But if the pleasure of learning is universal, why are there so many dull, incurious people in the world? It is because they were made dull, by bad teaching, by isolation, by surrender to routine, sometimes, too, by the pressure of hard work and poverty, or by the toxin of riches, with all their ephemeral and trivial delights. With luck, resolution and guidance, however, the human mind can survive not only poverty but even wealth.

 

5] This pleasure is not confined to learning from textbooks, which are too often tedious. But it does include learning from books. Sometimes when I stand in a big library like the library of Congress, or Butler Library at Columbia, and gaze around me at the millions of books, I feel a sober, earnest delight hard to convey except a metaphor. These are not lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice, as inaudible as the streams of sound conveyed by electric waves beyond the range of hearing, and just as the touch of a button on our stereo will fill the room with music, so by opening one of these volumes, one can call into range a voice far distant in time and space, and hear it speaking, mind to mind, heart to heart.

 

6] But, far beyond books, learning means keeping the mind open and active to receive all kinds of experience. One of the best-informed men I ever knew was a cowboy who rarely read a newspaper and never a book, but who had ridden many thousands of miles through one of the western states. He knew his state as thoroughly as a surgeon knows the human body. He loved it. Not a mountain, not a canyon which had not much to tell him, not a change in the weather that he could not interpret. And so, among the pleasures of learning, we should include travel, travel with an open mind, an alert eye and a visit to understand other peoples, other places, rather than looking in them for a mirror image of oneself. If I were a young man today, I should resolve to see—no, to learn ?—all the 50 states before I was 35.

 

7] Learning also means learning to practice, or at least to appreciate, an art. Every new art you learn appears like a new window on the universe; it is like acquiring a new sense. Because I was born and brought up in Glasgow, Scotland, a hideous 19th-century industrial city, I did not understand the slightest thing about architecture until I was in my 20s. Since then, I have learned a little about the art, and it has been a constant delight. ...

 

8] As for reading books, this contains two different delights. One is the pleasure of apprehending the unexpected, such as when one meets a new author who has a new vision of the world. The other pleasure is of deepening one's knowledge of a special field. ... Learning extends our lives (as Ptolemy said) into new dimensions. It is cumulative. Instead of diminishing in time, like health and strength, its returns go on increasing, provided ...

 

9] Provided that you aim, throughout your life, as you continue learning, to integrate your thought, to make it harmonious. If you happen to be an engineer and also enjoy singing in a glee club, connect these two activities. They unite in you; they are not in conflict. Both choral singing and engineering are examples of the architectonic ability of man: of his power to make a large plan and to convey it clearly to others. Both are aesthetic and depend much on symmetry. Think about them not as though they were dissociated, but as though each were one aspect of a single unity. You will do them better, and be happier.

 

10] Much unhappiness has been suffered by those people who have never recognized that it is as necessary to make themselves into whole and harmonious personalities as to keep themselves clean, healthy and financially solvent. Wholeness of the mind and spirit is not a quality conferred by nature, or by God. It is like health, virtue and knowledge. Man has the capacity to attain it; but to achieve it depends on his own efforts. It needs a long, deliberate effort of the mind and the emotions, and even the body.

 

11] During our earthly life, the body gradually dies; even the emotions become duller. But the mind in most of us continues to live, and even grows more lively and active, enjoys itself more, works and plays with more expansion and delight.

 

12] Many people have played themselves to death, even eaten and drunk themselves to death. Nobody has ever thought himself to death. The chief danger confronting us is not age. It is laziness, sloth, routine, stupidity—forcing their way in like wind through the shutters, seeping into the cellar like swamp water. Many who avoid learning, or abandon it, find that life is drained dry. They spend 30 years in a chair looking glumly out at the sand and the ocean; on a porch swing waiting for somebody to drive down the road. But that is not how to live.

 

13] No learner has ever run short of subjects to explore. The pleasures of learning are indeed pleasures. In fact, the word should be changed. The true name is happiness. You can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning.

 


Task 1 Answer the following quesions

 

1. Do you agree with the author's descriptions of schools today?

   What does the author mean by saying that learning is a Must

  Is learning necessarily a painful experience?

2. What is the central idea in the second paragraph? In the author's opinion, what should learning be? Do you agree with him?

   How does he try to prove his point of views?

   Do you agree that interest in learning is natural or inborn, rather than cultivated or implanted?

3. How does the author develop his idea in the fourth paragraph?

4. When the author says that learning is a pleasure, what kind of learning does he have in mind?

   Have you experienced pleasure from learning a foreign language?

5. What does the author mean when he says that learning extends life?

 

Task 2 Questions for discussion:

 

1. What is the chief source of pleasure in human life?

2. Have you found any pleasures in learning?

3. Some people say “Pleasure of learning is missing in the current system.” Do you agree, why or why not?

 

Here are some comments from online for your reference:

Present education system is skill-oriented and not knowledge-oriented. This has taken away most of the pleasure of learning.

While today's education system tests the ability of students to mug up a book and reproduce its contents, it does not provide the right initiative to improve their knowledge.

Today's education, specially school education, improves only memory power not knowledge. Syllabus has remained unchanged for the last one decade. It must be updated with the latest technological advancement.

Task 3 Writing assignment

Choose any of the topics in Task 2, and write a passage about 300 -400 words.

 

 


Get Ahead, Learn Mandarin


China's economic rise means the world has a new second language—and it isn't English

 

By Austin Ramzy


1]
It's Friday night in Ikebukuro, a Tokyo entertainment district full of cheap bars and pachinko parlors. As the office workers head to their favorite watering holes, three salarymen split from the crowd and enter a decrepit building that stands between a karaoke lounge and a tavern. Ignoring the sounds of sirens, drunken crooning and breaking glass outside, Hidetoshi Seki, Takashi Kudo and Yuji Yano huddle in a tiny room just big enough for a table for four, and open their Chinese textbooks. For the next 50 minutes the trio, all from a small trading company, practice describing their favorite foods and hobbies in Mandarin. Despite their crumpled shirts and five o'clock shadows, they are having a blast. The young female instructor at B-Chinese Language School indulges them as they crack jokes and make fun of each others' muddled pronunciation. Their language classes are the first lessons that any of them have taken since childhood, says Yano, 39. "We sort of unanimously agreed that Chinese would be a useful skill to acquire."

 

2] No kidding. The urge that drives those salarymen to pass up karaoke on a Friday night is increasingly common. In the past, when people set out to improve themselves by learning another language, those that didn't already speak it usually picked English. But while English may be the only truly international language, millions of tongues are wagging over what is rapidly becoming the world's other lingua franca: Mandarin. Seen as a key skill for people hitching their futures to China's economic rise, Mandarin is becoming common currency, particularly in Asia where trade ties with the Middle Kingdom are supplanting those of the region's longtime primary partner, the U.S. Indeed, because English is spoken so universally, it no longer offers companies and employees the edge it once did, according to a recent report by British linguist David Gaddol. If you want to get ahead, learn Mandarin. "In many Asian countries, in Europe and the USA, Mandarin has emerged as the new must-have language," Gaddol notes.

3] To an extent, this is a case of history repeating itself—with a twist. Just as Americans started studying Japanese in droves in the 1980s, when Japan's economy was ascendant, so today, as China rises, the world is embracing Mandarin. (It doesn't hurt that Chinese is spoken by an estimated one out of every six people on earth.) In South Korea, 160,000 high school and university students are studying the Chinese language, an increase of 66% over the past five years. The number of Japanese secondary schools offering Mandarin more than tripled between 1993 and 2005, and in Japan it's now the most taught foreign language after English. Mandarin is even being pushed within China itself, where hundreds of Chinese dialects can make communication tricky. The central government has promoted standard Mandarin, or putonghua, since the 1950s. Growing internal migration has boosted that effort, and putonghua is now commonly heard on the streets of Shanghai and Guangzhou, cities with their own dialects.

4] Outside Asia, the ranks of students studying Chinese are small but growing rapidly. From 2000-2004, the number of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland doing Advanced Level exams (those normally taken at age 18) in Chinese climbed by 57%. In the U.S., Chinese still lags far behind traditional foreign languages like French and Spanish, but China is the fastest growing destination for college students studying abroad. "I thought about what I was going to do after I graduated from college," says Kim Ku Jin, a 26-year-old from Pusan, South Korea. "How am I going to earn money? How am I going to eat?" The answer: buckle down and learn Mandarin. When Kim completed his obligatory two-year military service, he headed to the Chinese capital to pursue a language degree at the Beijing Language and Culture University. "In China I will definitely have opportunities," he says. Claudia Ross, a Chinese-language professor at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, says she's hearing the same things from her pupils. "Students who enrolled in Chinese used to tell me their parents would say, 'Why on earth are you studying this?'" says Ross. "Now students regularly come in saying, 'I'm taking Chinese because my parents say I should.'" At Holy Cross, enrollment in first-year Chinese doubled last year. "There are dollar signs attached to it," says Ross.

5] Mandarin was not always so trendy. It's daunting to learn, especially for Westerners, because of the tones used in speech to shift meaning—to say nothing of the thousands of characters that must be memorized to achieve true literacy. Politics threw up another impediment. During the Cold War, when China was sealed off from the rest of the world, fluency in Chinese was considered, at best, an arcane academic pursuit for diplomats and students of acupuncture or Tang poetry. At worst, it was considered the language of the enemy. Despotic right-wing governments in some Asian countries, fearing their regimes would be toppled by the spread of communism, thought of Chinese-speakers as Maoist revolutionary threats. In Indonesia, Suharto banned Chinese-language publications and closed almost all Mandarin schools. But after then President Abdurrahman Wahid lifted the ban in 1999, six universities added Mandarin courses, as did dozens of smaller language centers.

6] Now, students who can put "fluent in Mandarin" on their résumés are seeing the payoff. Jakarta resident Imam Fanani, 26, was initially discouraged when he began hunting for work last year because many of his friends had been unable to find good-paying jobs. But a day after he submitted his résumé to several employment websites, he had three job offers. His edge? A degree from the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. "There is no discrimination against the language anymore," says Imam, who now works at a conglomerate owned by an Indonesian Chinese. "In fact, you could even say it's become kind of fashionable."

7] It's in vogue even in the backwaters of Asia's least developed countries. In 2004, China became Cambodia's biggest foreign investor, and some Cambodians now think Mandarin is as useful as English. The Chea family in Phnom Penh decided to spread its bets: Rotha, a 13-year-old boy, studies English while his 12-year-old sister, Sophea, learns Mandarin. Spending money on language lessons has earned their parents, Chea Song and his wife Sotheary, the ridicule of neighbors, who point out that the Cheas don't have a proper house—they live in their open-air coffee-and-noodle shop. "Some people criticize me, saying I have no home to live in but I send my daughter to learn Chinese," says Chea Song. "But even if I'm poor, I want the best education for my children." English may help his son find a job with one of the many aid agencies working in Cambodia, or allow him to pursue medical studies, Chea reckons. His daughter's Mandarin skills may land her a job in a private business or as a translator. As he sees it, "The whole world is speaking Chinese."

EXPORTING MANDARIN

8] eager to assert itself internationally, the Chinese government is itself on a drive to promote Mandarin abroad in hopes of putting it on a par with English. "Promoting the use of Chinese among overseas people has gone beyond purely cultural issues," said Hu Youqing, a National People's Congress deputy and Chinese-language professor at Nanjing University, in an interview with the government-owned China Daily. "It can help build up our national strength and should be taken as a way to develop our country's 'soft power.'"

9] To that end, over the past two years Beijing has opened language and cultural centers called Confucius Institutes—modeled on Spain's Instituto Cervantes or Germany's Goethe-Institut—in more than 30 countries, including Australia, Japan, Kenya, the U.S. and Sweden. China has also deployed more than 2,000 Peace Corps-like volunteers to teach Mandarin overseas, mostly in Asian nations such as Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea. Meanwhile, back home, China has been rapidly upgrading Mandarin-language schools to handle a rising influx of overseas students. In Beijing, for example, Capital Normal University's North Number 1 campus features a pair of new gray steel and glass towers with polished stone floors and an indoor swimming pool. China's vastly ambitious goal is to have 100 million foreigners studying Mandarin by the end of the decade. "China is like an imperial civilization, or the U.S. or Britain or France. It tends to view the world on its own terms," says Nicholas Ostler, the British author of Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World. "In China, people talk in Chinese. More and more, they expect others to speak to them in Chinese, too."

10] China's efforts to spread Mandarin are managed from the 17th floor of an office building in the northwest corner of Beijing. There, school officials from around the world come to talk with Xu Lin, a voluble woman with an intense gaze who heads the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. On a hot, smoggy day last fall, she hosted a delegation of American educational and business leaders, including a former assistant secretary of education and school superintendents from New York and California. They sat at attention as Xu outlined her agency's plans for teaching Chinese to the world. To close the meeting, Xu signed an agreement with the commissioner of education in Kentucky to help his state develop a Chinese-language program. Xu and the commissioner, Gene Wilhoit, shook hands and Xu presented him with a gift: a digital wand that reads Chinese characters aloud when dragged across text. Wilhoit tried it out. An uncomfortable silence followed. "I think it's broken," one of Xu's subordinates muttered. Someone fiddled with the gadget, and Wilhoit tried again. There was a pause, and then a mechanical voice droned out one of the phrases that Xu deemed critical to survival in China: "Ganbei!"

11] Kentucky may have to rely heavily on such technology to teach students to say "cheers" in Chinese. The state has only a handful of Mandarin classes, such as a program that started up in January at a Louisville elementary school, because there aren't enough trained Mandarin teachers. The problem is widespread in the U.S. According to a 2004 survey by the College Board, a nonprofit organization that conducts college placement exams, 2,400 high schools wanted to offer Advanced Placement classes in Chinese, far more than the few hundred schools the organization expected. "The level of interest is high, but the level of expertise is low," says Scott McGinnis, an academic adviser at the Defense Language Institute in Washington. In January, U.S. President George W. Bush announced plans to spend $114 million next year to boost the number of instructors and augment educational programs for "critical need" languages including Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Hindi and Farsi.

12] For now, Kentucky educators are relying in large part on young Chinese volunteers such as Zhao Jing, a 29-year-old from the northern coastal city of Tianjin. A year ago, Zhao's knowledge of Kentucky was limited to visits to Ken De Ji—the Chinese name for Kentucky Fried Chicken. But after being recruited by the Kentucky Department of Education to develop the state's Mandarin curriculum, she drives hours to rural towns to talk with students and teachers about China. At noon on a recent Monday, Zhao carried her laptop to an audio-visual studio in the state education building in Frankfort, set up a PowerPoint presentation on an octagonal table, and waited for her students. One by one, department employees filed into the room and took seats around the table for the twice-weekly Chinese class. "Ni hao," they said, and then they began a lesson on the Chinese New Year and signs of the zodiac. When Zhao asked department policy advisor Debbie Hendricks, 51, to say her birth animal, Hendricks laughed, "I'm in over my head."

SETTING THE PACE
13] The rest of the world isn't going to wait for people like this to catch up in the race to learn Chinese. East Asians have a head start, due to the long history of interaction between China and its neighbors. China is now South Korea's biggest trading partner—having surpassed Japan in 2002 and the U.S. in 2004—and its people are signing up for Chinese lessons with zeal. South Koreans are the largest group of foreigners studying in China, representing about 40% of the 110,800 total last year. This trend is boosted by cultural ties, both new and old. Korean music and drama are among the most popular offerings on the mainland today, while 60% of Korean vocabulary comes from Chinese (similarly, written Japanese has several thousand characters borrowed from China). While that language transfer took place over centuries, Chinese now spreads across Asian borders at the speed of an instant message. Woo Jae Hoa, a 22-year-old student in Seoul, practices Mandarin by chatting online with a Chinese girl he met on the Internet. He types phonetically as he has yet to learn many Chinese characters. His new pen pal responds with simple, out-of-a-textbook answers, though they also delve into lighter topics, such as Korean pop music.

14] But a shared history can also be a curse. The widespread popularity of Chinese-language study in Japan has been hindered by the sensitive relationship between the former enemies. Last year there were 24 students in Mitsuko Yajima's Mandarin courses at Asia University. This year, following anti-Japanese demonstrations in several large Chinese cities, there are just 14. "Japan is slow to nurture a population of Mandarin students," says Yajima, who has taught Mandarin at the university for 30 years. "We are way behind South Korea."

15] That's not just an academic concern. As China's economic clout grows, the ability to reduce frictions and misunderstandings in business communications offers a strategic advantage. Even enthusiastic promoters of Mandarin aren't predicting that it will ever overtake English as the world's common language. But just as knowing English proved a key to getting ahead in the 20th century, learning Chinese will provide an edge in the 21st. It won't be easy, though. Acquiring the language requires hundreds of hours of study, countless early mornings memorizing characters, or, if you're a salaryman in Tokyo like Hidetoshi Seki and his pals, practicing sentence patterns while everyone else is out having fun. "We deal with a lot of Chinese clients," says Seki, 39. "But we weren't sent here by the company. We're drinking buddies, and decided to do something more constructive with our time than guzzling beer." Getting ahead sometimes requires a little sacrifice.

With reporting by Theunis Bates/London, Kevin Doyle/Phnom Penh, Theo Emery/Frankfort, Chanyong Kim/Seoul, Toko Sekiguchi/Tokyo and Jason Tedjasukmana/Jakarta


I. Find out the main idea of each paragraph.

 

II. Read the passage and answer the following questions.

 

1. What does the first paragraph suggest?

 

2. Why do many people begin to learn Maderin?

 

3. What is the purpose of listing the example of studying Japanese?

4. Why is it difficult to learn Manderin?

5. How do you understand “soft power”?

6. Why is the phrase “Ganbei” deemed critical to survival in China?

7. Summarize the reasons for Chinese mania.

III. Explain the following phrases/sentences in your own words.

2] millions of tongues are wagging over what is rapidly becoming the world's other lingua franca: Mandarin

 

2] Mandarin is becoming common currency

 

4] There are dollar signs attached to it

 

7] His daughter's Mandarin skills may land her a job in a private business or as a translator

 

9] It tends to view the world on its own terms

 

12] When Zhao asked department policy advisor Debbie Hendricks, 51, to say her birth animal, Hendricks laughed, "I'm in over my head."

 

13] East Asians have a head start, due to the long history of interaction between China and its neighbors.

 

15] As China's economic clout grows…

 

15] Getting ahead sometimes requires a little sacrifice.

 

IV. Writing

 

Write a passage based on the question: What do you think of English mania in China? (about 300-400 words).


 Chinese gov't school grant divides SoCal community

Published April 24, 2010

| Associated Press

1]HACIENDA HEIGHTS, Calif. –  HACIENDA HEIGHTS, Calif. (AP) — Bobby Fraker is taking a stand against what she perceives to be a sinister threat from across the Pacific, right here in her suburban Southern California community of tree-lined streets and stucco homes.

 

2]At a recent school-board meeting, Fraker and a dozen or more older, mostly white opponents of a Chinese government program that will fund a middle-school language class delivered fist-shaking denunciations.

 

3]"These children have young brains that are very malleable and they can be indoctrinated with things that America would not like," Fraker, a diminutive woman with tight auburn curls, implored board members, who approved the plan in January.

 

4]Communities across the United States, from Smithfield, R.I., to Medford, Ore., have welcomed with open palms the so-called Confucius Classroom grants from the Chinese government, like the one proposed here for Cedarlane Middle School.

 

5]But Confucius is not going down smoothly in Hacienda Heights, a middle-class town about 16 miles east of downtown Los Angeles with a history of racial tensions between longtime residents and relatively recent Chinese newcomers. Ethnic Chinese comprise the majority of the school board.

 

6]The Cedarlane student body, meanwhile, is overwhelmingly Hispanic, with three out of every five students at the school qualifying for free or reduced-price meals, a poverty indicator, according to state data.

 

7]The dustup may portend trouble for China's efforts to expand its cultural clout by bankrolling language programs in primary and secondary schools across the United States.

 

8]"I'm sure this will become a standard dispute," said University of Southern California public policy professor Nicholas Cull, who tracks China's efforts to shape its image abroad through programs like Confucius Classrooms. "People in America are very suspicious of ideas from the outside."

 

9]Chen Zhunmin, who directs the Chinese consulate's education office in Los Angeles, insisted the program has nothing to do with communism, as come of the local critics contend. He said Confucius Classroom and other programs were created to address misunderstandings about his country.

 

10]"I feel that the concerns of the neighbors are mainly caused by lack of understanding of Chinese history and culture," he wrote in an e-mail.

 

11]There are 60 Confucius Classroom and university-level Confucius Institute programs in the U.S., according to the Web site of China's language-teaching agency, the Hanban. Each is administered through a patchwork of educational organizations and universities that have deals with the agency.

 

12]The New York-based Asia Society plans to help set up another 80 Confucius Classrooms over the next two years. An additional 45 are separately planned in North Carolina alone.

 

13]The expansion into more communities could expose existing cultural and political fault lines, as it has in Hacienda Heights, a community that has undergone demographic change in recent decades.

 

14]In 1970, Hacienda Heights was less than 2 percent Asian and otherwise almost entirely white, according to state figures. By 2008, after decades of Chinese immigration into the region, Asians made up more than a third of the population, the same portion as the city's non-Hispanic whites.

 

15]The new ethnic and racial makeup has provided a backdrop for a spate of community disputes.

Some neighbors opposed construction of a massive Buddhist temple complex on a city hillside in the late 1980s to serve the growing Asian community in the San Gabriel Valley. Opponents feared animals would be sacrificed on the site and temple-goers would disturb the peace by banging gongs.

 

16]Racial tensions played a role in a failed 2003 ballot campaign to have the unincorporated part of Los Angeles County recognized as a city, with opponents whispering that an incorporated Hacienda Heights would be dominated by Asian-Americans.

 

17]The dispute over the Confucius Classroom program appears to be another such clash.

 

18]"China already owns and changed most of the shopping centers in Hacienda Heights," resident Sharon Pluth wrote in a letter to the town's closest newspaper, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. "Do we really want them to change our kids' minds, too?"

 

19]Under the deal with the Hanban, the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District is receiving $30,000 a year for language and culture programs at Cedarlane school, along with some 1,000 textbooks, CDs and other educational materials.

 

20]The city originally planned to accept an offer to have the Chinese government place a teaching assistant in Cedarlane and pay his or her salary, an overture that stoked strong resistance.

 

21]An editorial by the Tribune called the plan "tantamount to asking Hugo Chavez to send his cadres to teach little American kids economics."

 

22]School board member Norman Hsu said it wasn't worth pushing the issue, since, without California credentials, the teacher would not have been permitted to operate as a full-fledged instructor anyway.

 

23]"Why do we need to pour oil in the fire?" he said.

 

24]Hsu said the district accepted the Chinese government's offer because it knew that money for a needed expansion of its language program at Cedarlane would not be forthcoming from the cash-strapped state government.

 

25]But opponents, who have been attending school board meetings with signs bearing such slogans as "America, Not Confucius," say they'll keep pushing the district to abandon the program completely.

 

26]They also say they'll seek to unseat the four members of the five-person board that voted in January to accept the Hanban's offer.

 

27]Teresa Macias, one of those who voiced concerns at a recent board meeting, insisted her objections were not rooted in race.

 

28]Like other critics, Macias said she has no children in the school system, but feels the need to protect the community's youth from communist propaganda that could be hidden in textbook passages unreadable to non-Chinese speakers.

 

29]She said she's also concerned about the program's identification with Confucius and his 2,500-year-old philosophy.

 

30]"When you Google it, it comes up as a religion," she said. "It just seems wrong on so many levels."

 

31]Chen, from the Chinese consulate, dismissed that concern. "It is a well-known fact that Confucius is basically a philosopher and educator, not a religious figure," he wrote.

 

32]Cecile Cowan, whose daughter is about to attend Cedarlane, understands critics' concerns, but plans to review the Confucius teaching materials with an open mind. She'd like her daughter to learn an important skill.

 

33]"I believe the whole idea behind it was sort of bringing our cultures together and exposing children to languages," she said. "It only adds to their intelligence and their marketability as they get older."

 

34]Jane Shults, a Cedarlane history teacher, supports the program on her campus because she can use the free texts to teach about ancient China, as mandated by the state.

 

35]"The community has changed. It could be that it's a way of protesting that," she said. "It's jingoistic, it's xenophobic, it's not overly rational and it's really shades of McCarthyism all over again."

 

 


The great melt

Alun Anderson


For scientists, nowhere will be hotter than the Arctic

 

1] It will be a busy year for the Arctic. Thanks to International Polar Year, a programme involving more than 60 nations in over 200 research projects, the region will swarm with more scientists than at any time in history. And the Arctic certainly needs urgent attention.

  

2] Everyone has seen those iconic pictures of polar bears sitting on tiny ice floes amid blue open water and knows that global warming is hitting the Arctic. The vast frozen seas are melting away at a staggering rate. In 1987 there were 7.5m square kilometres (2.9m square miles) of sea ice left at the end of the summer melt but by 2007 only 4.1m square kilometres remained. An area of ice equivalent to a third of the land area of America had vanished and the Northwest Passage opened for the first time. Some computer models predict that all summer ice will be gone by 2040. But accurate models are proving hard to make. Frighteningly, the actual pace of ice loss continues to outpace even the gloomiest forecast—and changes in the Arctic might have catastrophic consequences for the rest of the planet.

  

3] But there will be scientists in the Arctic in 2008 interested in more than sea and ice. Geologists will be searching for the oil, gas, minerals and diamonds that the melting ice might reveal. Geophysicists will be busy mapping the sea bottom as the circumpolar powers—Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and America—try to prove that the Arctic sea floors are natural extensions of their own lands and thus belong to them. Already, in an opening gambit, Russia has planted a titanium flag on the sea bed beneath the North Pole. And there are squabbles over new shortcuts for shipping around the Siberian coast and the Northwest Passage.

  

4] It is hard to predict where the great melt will lead because the Arctic is incredibly dynamic. The ice is not just melting away as temperatures rise. Vast currents and winds push the ice around the ocean, some of it remaining trapped in the huge Beaufort Gyre off the coast of Alaska, where it ages and thickens, and some being spat out between Greenland and Siberia in the great Transpolar Drift Stream. As the Earth’s climate has changed, once-regular oscillations in these systems have become unpredictable.

 

5] The problem is made even more difficult because the frozen ocean is layered. Snow on top of the ice insulates it and slows melting. Under the ice, cold, fresh water from the huge rivers that ring the Arctic insulates it from warmer waters that leak in from the Pacific and Atlantic. Any changes to these insulating layers can bring melting. The melting will itself generate more warming. Ice is pure white and reflects sunlight back into space. But leads of open sea are black and absorb heat. Once melting begins, more heat pours in and ever faster melting results.

 

6] To understand all this, satellite pictures of the shrinking ice are not enough. Scientists need to get out there to collect data. And some of them have adventurous plans for 2008. A French team working with German scientists will travel by airship from Paris to Svalbard, then on to the North Pole and across to Alaska. Special instruments suspended from the airship will measure ice thickness and create the longest profile of the sea ice ever made. A Russian expedition will go to the pole in 2008 too, but more slowly, drifting for eight months on a station built on an ice floe and studying the sea ice all the way.

  

7] Much more data will come from cruises by ship, plane and helicopter and, increasingly, from automated sensors that send data back south by satellite. There are “ice buoys” that drift through the Arctic on floes, and send probes into the water below, measuring temperature, salinity and other critical factors. There are robot vehicles that can travel under the ice, and buoys anchored to the sea floor to measure flows of water into and out of the Pacific and Atlantic. Sensors on land and sea will measure clouds and winds. Many scientists will also be looking at the impact of climate change on the animals and plants of the region as well as on the way of life of its 160,000 Inuit and other indigenous peoples.

  

8] Meanwhile other scientists will seek a global-warming silver lining. In 2008 data from the United States Geological Survey will boost estimates that 25% of the world’s undiscovered hydrocarbon reserves are in the Arctic. Exploitation has already begun. Norway will start shipments of gas from its “Snow White” field in the Barents Sea in early 2008. Gazprom of Russia and France’s Total will start work on a daunting new frontier for the oil industry: the Shtokman gas field, 600km (370 miles) out into the Arctic from Russia’s northern coast.

 

9] While the race is on to find oil and gas in the melting Arctic, it is the greenhouse gases that came from burning fossil fuels which caused the big melt in the first place. So the treasure-seekers should beware that the Arctic may take its revenge. One threat is of sea levels rising. Another comes from the lakes of floating fresh water amid the sea ice. If Arctic circulation patterns change, this fresh water could travel out into the Atlantic, and turn off the ocean currents that bring warm weather to Europe. Yet another is the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Let’s hope that 2008’s scientific explorers give us the knowledge to understand the risks.

 


 

I. Read the passage and think about the following questions.

 

Task 1 General questions about global warming:

1.What is global warming?

2.Why does it matter?    

3.Is global warming just a natural cycle?

4.Can we stop the warming of the earth?

5. What do you know about Kyoto Protocol?

6.Do you consciously do anything on a regular basis to reduce your carbon footprint or to become "greener"? If yes, what do you do and why do you bother to do so? If not, why not?"

 

Task 2 Specific questions about the article:

1. Why is Arctic hotter than other places?

2. Why are those numbers are mentioned in the second paragraph?

3. How do people view the melting of the Arctic?

4. Why do some scientist have adventurous plans?

5. What is the real reason for the melting of the Arctic?

6. What are the possible consequences brought about by the melting of the Arctic?

 

II. Get online to do more reading about global warming and write about Task 1: question 6.

 


 

I. Read the passage and think about the following questions?

 

1. What has caused the death of Michael Jackson?

2. How do people think of Michael Jackson?

3. Did MJ have a happy childhood?

4. How do you understand the sentence “he transfixed the world”?

5. List facts to show that he