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My Favorite Pastime

Sample 1

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My favorite pastime is writing. You may not think it is a pastime. But to me it is, because it is a form of relaxation that takes my mind away from other things when I feel tired.

I began to like writing when I was a pupil in primary school. I was imaginative and created many interesting stories at that time. When I told my stories to my friends on our way home from school, they enjoyed them. Then telling a story I wrote on the way back home soon became my regular practice. That made me really happy. I had never thought of writing as entertainment before. Sometimes I wrote down my stories and passed them around among my classmates.

When I was in high school, I began to like poems. This was because of the influence of my best friend. She liked poems very much, so gradually I learned to appreciate poems. When I am writing poems, I can concentrate for a long time, totally losing myself. No matter whether I am happy or sad I start writing poems to express myself.

Let me tell you a little secret. Now I'm writing a science fiction about time travel. I'm sure it is original and interesting. However, writing definitely takes time, and how I wish I could have more time to pursue this hobby. I may not become a professional writer, but I will always enjoy writing. (238 words)

Sample 2

I usually spend my leisure time on various things such as watching TV, reading, swimming and playing table tennis. But if you ask me what's my favorite pastime, I woulddefinitely say that it is playing computer games.

I like computer games and surfing on the Internet. Many people believe playing computer games is harmful to one's health, especially to the eyes. But I don't quite agree. I think playing computer games benefits me. First, as a way of relaxation , it also gives me a sense of accomplishment. Secondly, I gain a lot of knowledge I cannot find in textbooks. For instance, when I played Civilization II, I began to realize the importance of science, because it was impossible to defeat the enemy in the game if you didn't develop science. Finally and most importantly, I have to use an English-Chinese dictionary from time to time because most of the games are in English. So the more games I play, the greater progress I make in English. The games are entertaining and

instructive.

I also like surfing on the Internet. There is a huge amount of information there. It has become more and more popular and important. It is said that those who control the Internet will conquer the world in the future. That is perhaps an illusion but I want to be a master of the future.

In a word, I like playing with my computer very much. It appeals to my curiosity and my desire to escape from the limited world of my room. (255 words)

How People Spend Their Leisure Time

Sample 1

Many people are often very busy with various things at work or at home so they have no time for entertainment . But this is really bad for one's health. So we should make an effort to look for relaxation . A proverb says, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

People in different regions may have different forms of activities. In China one of the most popular activities is traveling, especially going to the remote areas which are not seriously polluted. These isolated locations appeal to travelers who want to get close to nature because they are tired of stressful city life.

Other people who can afford neither the time nor the money for travel will stay at home, watching TV, going to the movies or concerts , or inviting some friends over for a party. Children like to go to the park, play computer games, and participate in sports. Young women like to go shopping while young men prefer to stay at home, watching TV and drinking tea.

The popularity of pastimes varies according to age, sex, personality and financial situations. Whatever one's pastime is, I'm sure that after it he or she will feel relaxed, more refreshed and ready to start a new day's work. Pastimes offer a way to take one's mind away from the stresses of everyday life. (220 words)

Sample 2

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Nowadays leisure activities are popular not only with wealthy people but also with people with low incomes. There are entertainment pages in the newspapers that give information on how you can spend your leisure time.

Different people prefer different types of entertainment depending on the season, their personality and income. Some people like to spend their leisure time relaxing indoors, pursuing their hobbies. Others look for outdoor relaxation .

In the spring when it is warm, nature becomes more and more beautiful with trees and grass turning green and flowers blossoming. It is a good time for people to go sightseeing, boating, and picnicking. In summer, it is too hot outdoors, so they like to stay at home, enjoying cold watermelon or ice cream.

People who like reading will go to the library instead of visiting scenic spots. For them, books are everything. They'd like to bury their heads in books, ignoring everything else. Contrary to these people, there are always individuals who require more exciting activities like rock climbing, bungee jumping, ballooning and so on. These attractions appeal to the sense of adventure that is typical of them. (190 words)

Is Writing Better than Calling?

Sample 1The conventional way of sending messages is writing a letter. Though it takes a lot of time, it is one of the most commonly used ways of communication. With the development of science and technology, the telephone emerged and it becomes so popular that it is indispensable in our daily life.

It is difficult to say which is better. Every means of communication has its advantages and disadvantages. Writing a letter is not only a means of communication, but also a kind of pleasure. What is more, the letters can be kept and read again and again. Sometimes they are inspiring , and sometimes they are encouraging . You can write a lot of things in a letter and it does not cost you much to mail it. But it is slow, and you have to wait a long time to get a response from your friends. On the other hand, making telephone calls is much faster, so they are more appropriate when you need a quick reply. They also enable you to hear your friends' voice, which gives you a wonderful feeling. It is so easy just to pick up the phone and call whereas writing takes more energy. But telephoning is expensive, and sometimes you cannot remember all the comments that are made because calls are transient, and cannot be kept for reading later like treasured letters.

So it is very hard to say which is better. The only thing we can do is to make a wise choice between writing and calling according to the situation. (258 words)

Sample 2Are letters better than telephone calls? My answer is yes.

My first reason is that letters can be kept for a long time. I treasure all the

letters from my friends and reread them in my spare time. To me they are the symbols of friendship. Every time I feel exhausted or lonely, they give me encouragement and strength. Letters are an inspiring source of courage.

My second reason is that the words in the letters are written after rumination, while calls are not. When you write a letter you have enough time to think about how to express your ideas, so you won't say anything that shouldn't be said. But when you are talking on the phone, sometimes you say something unconsciously that you may regret, or you may make a comment that is misunderstood or that hurts your friend.

For some cases, such as love letters, writing is more romantic. Words on a page seem more expressive . Sometimes you feel more confident writing your feelings than conveying them over the phone. (172 words)

Words I Will Never Forget

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Sample 1Whenever I listen to the inspiring song "Cordial Hero", I escape into the past. I think about many extraordinary days I went through. In those days when I was pessimistic, overwhelmed with difficulties, the song would summon up my courage and uplift me. Then, I could feel that my strength was reinforced and that my body had a renewed source of energy. I would be more confident and ready to handle everything.

The following words gave me great encouragement: "How can we see a rainbow without a storm? No one can succeed without effort." When I was worried about tests, when I was misunderstood or criticized by others, or when things went against my expectations, the song seemed to say to me: Listen, life isn't a wide smooth road, there will be some muddy paths ahead. No one can avoid this. Instead we should be grateful to difficulties because they enable us to mature. With each challenge being overcome we learn to get over our problems more easily.

Many years have flown by, and many things have passed. But this beautiful song and its expressive words are always around me and encouraging me to brave the storm. (195 words)

Sample 2I was raised in the countryside by my grandmother. She was a very courageous and inspiring woman and was very beautiful, too. In comparison with her and some of my classmates, I always felt that I was not pretty. In fact, when I was in middle school, I thought I was ugly and because of these negative feelings I was not very confident . I often felt self-conscious .

One day when I was walking with my grandmother, we met one of her friends. We talked for a few minutes. Just as my grandmother's friend was about to leave, she turned to me and said, "Xiaowen, you look very beautiful today in that green dress."

No one had ever made a comment like that to me before. It was so encouraging . Suddenly I felt confident and happy. I couldn't believe that some one would describe me as beautiful. It's true that those words turned my life around. And I admit that I treasured that green dress for a long time. (171 words)

Who Are Teachers' Pets, Boys or Girls?

This is a difficult question that I can't really answer on my own, so I made a survey among 30 other students for their opinions. There were 9 boys and 21 girls among them. I gave them each two statements and asked them whether they agreed or disagreed and why. I have chosen some of the interesting comments .

"The teachers' pets are the top students. That's fair ." Seventeen students agreed with this opinion. They said it was natural because people always like the best things or the best people. In addition, it is easy for the top students to draw the teachers' attention. Average students have fewer chances to have close contact with teachers, let alone to be their pets.

"Male teachers tend to like girls better and female teachers tend to like boys better." Five students agreed with this statement . They said that which gender will be the teacher's pets depends on the teacher's gender. Obviously, it is all because of the attraction between the sexes.

Four students didn't agree with either statement because teachers like boys more than girls. They said that teachers always think boys are smarter than girls. Teachers are used to asking boys to answer questions and letting them do hands-on work. One person said it was not because teachers liked boys better, but because they think girls are afraid of losing face.

Finally, there were four students who thought teachers like girls more than

boys because girls are more obedient and neat. They can, and will, help teachers do things. They also said that girls generally got higher marks.

I think teachers in China are fairer than those in the West. When I read "Boys Are Teachers' Pets" I was surprised. I never thought girls would be ignored even if they were good students. Perhaps some teachers prefer girls in primary school and boys in middle school. But, all in all, I think the top students are always teachers' pets.

Sample 2

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Who Are Teachers' Pets, Boys or Girls?

To answer this question, we designed a questionnaire and gave it to 30 students. They just had to put a mark in the square that corresponded to their opinion. We then analyzed the results of our survey . The results of the survey are shown in the following table:

According to the results of the survey , we can see that in primary school girls are thought of as teachers' pets. When they are very young, boys are naughtier than girls, and the latter are generally very well-behaved.

As they get older, boys are more likely to be teachers' pets. In middle school, boysperform better in subjects like math and physics. Boys are thought to be cleverer than girls. As teenagers, both girls and boys are well-behaved. Since boys are no longer naughty, it is easier for them to become teachers' pets.

Most students feel that neither boys nor girls become teachers' pets in college. Teachers don't know their students as well as teachers in junior or senior middle school, so they don't have pets.

According to the results of our survey, we can conclude that whether boys or girls are teachers' pets depends on their age.

How to Encourage Creativity in Students?

Sample 1Success has often been linked to creativity. However, more and more evidence proves that school education seems to discourage creativity in students. First, students should be allowed to free their imagination. Students also have rights to produce strange drawings and ask foolish questions, for they can sometimes lead to creativity.

Don't look down on children's tricks and games. Play is an important step on the road to the success of the greatest scientists and artists. According to research on the human brain, the two halves of the human brain do different kinds of work in everyday life. The left half manages tasks related to logical reasoning and language skills. The right half controls things such as drawing, music, imagination, and even dreams.

Of course, praising good ideas and encouraging unusual points of view are important ways to encourage creative thinking. However, the real answer lies in encouraging students to think in pictures and to express themselves in simple drawings. It might be a good way to let the right half of their brains do exercises. Besides, letting students do imaginative assignments like making up stories and encouraging them to daydream when they are free are also effective ways to wake up their creativity. (203 words)

Sample 2

First of all, students should be encouraged to have hands-on experience as much as possible. If a student is interested in machines, let him/her make car models, for example. If a student likes clothes, he/she should have the opportunity to sew a garment for himself/herself. Students can also be encouraged to design something they have never seen before. In brief, they can use their imagination and knowledge to do whatever they can and whatever they like.

Of course, when they encounter difficulties, as their teacher, I'll be ready to help them if they need my help. But it doesn't mean I will do everything for them. Instead of telling them the answer right away, I will engage them to solve the problem themselves. When the student manages to solve the problem, he will gain more confidence and will be more willing to rely on himself/herself for solutions in the future. Thus the student will become more and more creative.

At the same time, students should read, think and discuss with others. This process will enable them to gain inspiration from other people. For example they can read about famous inventors and examples of creativity. In addition,

students should be allowed to have foolish ideas and make mistakes. This will help create a good atmosphere for creative thought. (225 words)

Directions : Write a composition on either of the following topics. Use at least 6 of the words or phrases from the box below.

1) The Athletes I Admire Most

2) Athletes Should (Not) Be Role Models

Sample 1

The Athlete I Admire Most

The athlete I admire most is Burgcamp. He is a world famous soccer star. He has comprehensive skills, so he shines as a forward. He always lives up to his fans' expectations. He enabled his club team to win the British Championship. He is a fair player and isn't violent. So he is welcome anywhere and at any time. Perhaps you think the performance of soccer stars such as Ronaldo and Michael Owen is also excellent and you wonder why I admire Burgcamp most. Now let me tell you the reasons.

First of all, he is Dutch. I like Holland very much. It is a very small, beautiful and civilized country. I think the Dutch are full of wisdom and courage. They filled the sea with soil and constructed dams to keep the sea water out. Burgcamp is a hero in the eyes of Dutch people because he has brought glory to their nation and contributed to the positive image of the Dutch people.

Secondly, I like the Dutch National Team very much. The members wear orange sportswear. Orange is the color I like best, because it means passion,

energy and intensity. The members of the Dutch National Team give you these feelings. I think the Italians are too conservative, while the Brazilians are so rash that they lack cooperation. But the Dutch are very brilliant. They are well-organized, and Burgcamp is the soul of the team. He is a true role model. That's why I admire him the most. (249 words)

Sample 2

The Athletes I Admire Most

Although we were asked to write about the athlete we admire most, I would like to write about two athletes: Shen Xue (申雪) and Zhao Hongbo (赵宏博). They are Chinese pair skaters and have won many championships. Their performances have thrilled audiences all over the world. They are now among the top athletes in figure skating and will probably win a medal at the next Olympic Games.

I admire them for many reasons. First, the beauty and intensity of their skating has contributed to the popularity of figure skating in China. Many young skaters will follow their lead. Second, I admire their indomitable spirit. If they fall, they get up and continue skating. They are hardworking and courageous. I also admire their teamwork. Pair skaters have to be strong individual skaters and at the same time they must be in harmony with each other and with the music. Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo are my role models. (155 words)

Sample 3

Athletes Should Be Role Models

Whether they like it or not athletes are role models. If they participate in national or international sports and win, we admire them. We don't necessarily worship them, but we think about their courage and determination when we are discouraged.

Most athletes are examples of good qualities. They aim for perfection and they have a lot of self-discipline. These are positive characteristics that I would like to have. Since we live in a competitive world today, we need the qualities that athletes have in order to succeed.

Some athletes, however, do not measure up to our expectations. They become greedy and selfish. Perhaps they think that because they are famous they can do anything they want. Some athletes become very rich and powerful. But the Chinese athletes I admire are not in that category. They are positive role models.

The role models we choose can come from any walk of life. In a sense, athletes are the center of attention, we can watch their performance on television or we can read about them in the newspaper. We can talk about them with our friends. Athletes are like public heroes that can inspire us. (193 words)

Sample 4

Athletes Should Not Be Role Models

Athletes are specialists in physical performance. They excel in athletic skills but they cannot be expected to be excellent or knowledgeable in other areas. They train all the time to be competitive and to win games.

I am not interested in sports and I am not an athlete, so I do not see how athletes could be role models for me. I hope to become a scientist, therefore my role models are not sports stars.

How can one admire athletes like Mike Tyson? He is greedy and selfish and he is actually a criminal. Many athletes have so much money that they believe they don't have to care about other people. They do not give back anything to their community. They do not accept their social responsibility but enjoy being put on a pedestal by fans who worship them. They think they are above other people in society. I admire people who contribute to the society, not people who think they are superior to others.

Indeed ,Michael Jordan is a very famous basketball player. He worked very hard to reach perfection. Everyone in the world knows him because he is a star and he is in many advertisements. He has become very rich not only because he is a professional athlete but also because he endorses many brand names like Nike. But I never value all these things, so why should I choose him as a role model? (238 words)

Directions : Write a composition entitled "Are Environmental Risks Worth Taking?" basing on the results of your discussion in Activity 5 in Part Three.

Are Environmental Risks Worth Taking?

Sample 1

It seems that environmental risks are worth taking. China is a great nation and she must develop her economy to improve the living conditions of the people. In order to do this, she has to take risks of all kinds. Pollution is one of the major consequences of technological and economic growth.

If stricter controls are placed on companies and if laws are made to help limit pollution, we can minimize the risks on the environment. Unfortunately, installing anti-pollution devices on chimneys and cleaning up the rivers and lakes are very costly. And very often people are near-sighted when they make their choices.

It is too late to turn back. The market economy has brought many good changes that have improved people's lives. Progress of any kind has always involved risks. We must be prepared to take risks in order to move ahead. However, we must not move blindly. We must remain vigilant with regard to the environmental consequences of our economic development. We must not proceed so quickly that we put the health of the population at risk. (179 words) Sample 2

I don't think environmental risks are worth taking. Man has already done too much damage to the planet. We will all suffer the consequences of increased global warming, massive pollution of rivers and oceans, and continuous destruction of forests. We must start looking for more ways to improve the environment rather than continuing to damage it.

Of course, we all want to have a more comfortable life. We want all the modern devices such as refrigerators, television sets, air-conditioners and other household items that bring us convenience and comfort. We want cars instead of bicycles so as to travel faster and over longer distances. We want to be able to buy more and more things. But at what cost? If we produce more garbage, if we pollute the air, the land and the great rivers more seriously, we will not be able to breathe fresh air or drink clean water. Health risks will increase and our life span will decrease.

So the environmental risks are not worth taking at all in the long run. The short-term gains can't outweigh the long-term pain and suffering. We shouldn't use our own hands to destroy the place we are living in and our future generations will depend on for their living. (208 words)

1) Directions : Write a letter or essay as a response to Bob Greene's "Those College Finals". Explain why you agree or disagree with him.

A possible outline:

A. Summarize Greene's points

B. Comment on each of his main points

e.g. Can one always bring a book along in real life?

Is real life an open-book test?

Is real life much easier than college life?

C. Conclusion

2) Directions: Write an anecdote about your school life that you think is funny. Read it to your classmates next time you have an English class.

1) Sample

Dear friend,

After I read your essay "Those College Finals", some questions pop into my mind. You said that the most miserable moment of a college student's life is during final exam week, that real life is an open-book test, and that real life is much easier than college life.

However, I don't quite agree with you. Firstly, the purposes of finals are to show how students are getting on with their studies, help them find their weaknesses and have a better grasp of what they have learned. If one works hard at other times, one shouldn't be afraid of finals. The final exam week is thus by no means the most miserable moment. Secondly, in real life, we can't anticipate what will happen tomorrow and don't know what should be prepared for. So it is not easier. On the contrary, it is much more difficult than college life.

So I think you need to take a closer look at college life and real life, gain a better understanding of both so that you won't go to extremes. I hope you'll be more positive towards the world. (189 words)

Yours sincerely,

2) Sample

When the National Entrance Exam was approaching, simulated tests became more frequent. One morning, we had a math test first. It was very difficult and we were all very depressed. The physics test would soon follow. We all begged the teacher not to give it, but he wouldn't listen. We could do nothing but take it. It was even more difficult. You can imagine how frustrated and exhausted we were when we left the classroom around noon.

That afternoon, we had two hours of English. To our despair, the English teacher had a pile of papers too! Perhaps she saw we were all tired, she didn't distribute the papers at once. Instead, she asked us, "Wouldn't you like to have an English test today?" We were almost paralyzed by too many tests and too many failures, so we shouted in chorus, "No!" She was astonished. A few seconds later, she said, "No, we won't have the test today." (160 words)

Directions : Write a description of an event when time seemed to pass extremely fast or slow. Try to focus on your perceptions of time and describe as vividly as possible. The following are occasions when time seems to pass very slowly or quickly.

Occasions when time seems to pass very slowly:

Standing in a long queue/line; waiting for something important to happen or some important results to be announced; attending a boring lecture; sitting through some meetings; washing clothes; having nothing to do; riding the bus or train on the way home; working in the field on a hot, sunny day; staying in the hospital; running a long-distance race

Occasions when time seems to pass very quickly:

During an exam; working on the computer; playing video games; playing cards; at the end of the year/term; telephoning parents/friends; visiting friends; approaching a deadline; enjoying a holiday; doing fun work

Sample 1A Race Against Time

Sometimes time passes slowly, and sometimes it passes quickly. For

example, it happened to me on the playground one day. We were having a PE lesson and timing a 1,000-meter race. When my turn came, I became nervous and I knew I would have a hard time. After a while, I dropped to the last. I tried my best to keep up with the rest of the group, but the distance between them and me became longer and longer. I said to myself, "I am the last one!" I became increasingly nervous. Soon I was out of breath and worn out. My legs seemed so heavy that they moved very slowly and I couldn't control them. At the same time I was thirsty and got a stuffy nose. I thought of quitting, but I couldn't. I had no choice but to continue.

I finally finished the race. A classmate asked me, "How do you feel?" "Terrible," I said. "The past few minutes seemed like an hour." Almost at the same time, I heard the teacher's voice, "The last runner's time: 4 minutes and 27 seconds." I couldn't believe my ears. (190 words)

Sample 2

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Time Flies

We bought a computer for our dormitory a month ago. At first we all promised not to play computer games, but later, we all broke our promises.

Last Sunday evening, I was going to do some homework. It was 5:30 p.m. and I thought I had plenty of time to finish it that evening. At that time, my roommates were playing the game "Need for Speed III". They cheered when they won the game and attracted my attention. I couldn't resist the temptation and said, "Let me have a try." How exciting it was! I sat in front of the computer as if I were in a racing car. I ran into a corner and stepped on the gas and rushed ahead and won. Sometimes I made a mistake and the car turned over, but I didn't lose heart. Again and again I played. Again and again I wanted to play again… I didn't care what time it was. I thought it was still early.

Time flew and four hours passed before I knew it. I was astonished when I looked at my watch. It's impossible, I thought, because it seemed to me like only a little while. I jumped off the stool and started at once to do my homework. I tried my best but couldn't finish it as I had planned to. (224 words)

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