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TOEFL Writing Samples - Agreeing or Disagreeing (1 & 2)

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Parents are the best teachers. Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

 

Obviously, the first teachers we have in our lives in most cases are our parents. They teach us to walk, to speak, and to have good manners before we reach "the real world." More than even the professional teachers that we have in school, parents are generally the most involved in the development and education of children.

 

Almost for sure our parents are the best teachers at the beginning of our lives, which actually corresponds to the parents' role in nature. Parents are most committed and involved in teaching their children; they have a kind of instinct to sacrifice a part of themselves for the betterment of their children. They love us and have great patience while passing down their knowledge to us. They wish us a success and thus will not teach us bad things. And of course, implicit learning occurs when children unconsciously copy some of their parents' habits and styles of behavior.

 

During the second stage of child development, adolescence, parents can still be in the best position to offer advice even though the children might not accept it. In this case, perhaps the child's friends would be the best teachers. Adolescents are notoriously rebellious in many cultures and may automatically reject any advice from their parents. My first marriage for instance, was solely a matter of doing the opposite when my parents tried to intrude in offering their advice. So in such matters, parents should be much more flexible and be rather the partners with their children. So we can see that being a teacher of growing child become more and more complicated case as the time passes and many parents are simply not able to meet the increased demands.

 

On the other hand, I would say that parents are not professional teachers and they tend to be very biased by their love of their children. So wishing good things and an easy life may prevent children from maturation. In any case, parents usually can present only one viewpoint of the world, while good teaching should be based on different attitudes. Thus, when children go to school and have a great diversity of teachers, they learn much more than their parents could probably give them. Furthermore, once our parents get older, they become more conservative and cannot always be objective in regard to modem trends and fashions. Thus we need to take their advice with caution during that period. However, some kind of intuition, which I believe, shared between relatives about what everybody needs and great love, which exists in families, still makes our parents very good teachers and advisers at any time.

 

In conclusion, while parents are not the ideal teachers, and well-rounded children will generally need a great diversity of teachers in their lives in order to have a more accurate view of the world, parents are generally the most committed of all teachers and have the greatest emotional investment in their children and their future.

 

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Television has destroyed communication among friends and family. Use specific reasons and examples to support your opinion.

 

Television is undoubtedly one of the most powerful means of communication in the history of humankind, rivaled only by such other forms of communication as the Internet, the telephone, movies, and, of course, simple, low-tech speech. Television, with its wide availability and rich media with image and sound, is difficult to ignore and even seductive in its appeal. Television is as much a part of our lives as are our meals, work, or school; studies consistently show that the average American child spends almost as much time watching television as she does in school. Furthermore, because television is so rich in its media, it often requires our full attention or is more attraction to us than are our daily lives. Naturally, the more time one spends watching television, the less time she has with her family and friends. Thus, we can clearly see why some have claimed that television has been harmful for communication among family and friends. However, I believe that, while television has been somewhat harmful in its effects, it has hardly "destroyed" communication among family and friends for most people, although for some, this may be true.

 

Most people much prefer spending time with their families and friends to spending time watching television. Television is of course an important part of many people's lives, but most people would gladly choose family and friends over television were they given the choice. Furthermore, most educated people are aware of the deleterious effects of too much television and either avoid excessive time watching television, or actually do not enjoy it. I, for example, after a long day at work, would much rather spend time talking with my wife and playing with my children than I would watching some unrealistic portrayal of life on television. For my family, and me our time together is precious and beautiful, and could never be replaced or hurt by television.

 

Furthermore, the effect of television is simply not so great that it could be said to have "destroyed" communication among family and friends. Granting that communication among family and friends in industrialized countries has decreased in recent years, it might be tempting to blame this problem on television since its rise roughly coincided with the decrease in time we spend with our families. However, I believe this situation is more likely due to increased pressures relating from work, school, and the economy. In my case, for example, I find that my pressures from work are so great that I must often sacrifice time at home so that I can meet the challenges of running my own business. Many of my friends are in similar situations--my best friend, for example, has just finished law school, which took about sixty hours a week of his time. In a word, people nowadays have very little time for anything, but television is not the cause--it is increased desire to succeed.

 

In some situations, however, television has surely contributed to a decrease in communication among family members. In my childhood in the countryside, I often saw parents and children watching television for hours on end, rarely speaking with one another. It seemed for them that television was a way to escape from their sad, miserable existence. However, even in this case, I would say that television merely contributed to the bad situation, but did not cause it; were television not existent, surely these people would have found other escapes, alcohol or gambling, for example. In other words, people always find a way to do what they want to do.

In short, I do not believe that television has destroyed or even harmed interpersonal communication among most people. Most people realize that television is merely a temporary diversion and do not use it to replace interpersonal communication. I believe that the damage attributed to television is greatly exaggerated and that such damage is most likely attributable to other more powerful social factors.