Monday, December 12, 2016

TOEFL Speaking Question #3 - Sample

A Notice from the Dean's Office:
The Office of the Dean wishes to announce that our university will now participate in Safe Space programs. A "Safe Space" is a place on campus where communities of agreement may meet without worrying about people of other opinions creating conflict or arguments. We are experimenting with these safe spaces since this seems to have become a trend on contemporary US campuses and the university administration has been approached by various student populations who wish for this program to exist. 
The point of a "Safe Space" is to ensure that like-minded individuals, or individuals of similar identities and experiences can come together in a space where self-respect and dignity are protected. If a Safe Space is violated, this will be considered a violation of the student code of conduct and severe disciplinary measures, including expulsion from school may result. 
To apply for a Safe Space for your group, please fill out a proposal form which can be obtained from the Dean's Office and submit it by December 1st for the opportunity to have a Safe Space by the January term. 

Now listen to a dialogue between two students as they discuss this Notice:
Barry: Can they do this? I don't think they can do this. 
Angela: Do what?
Barry: Did you read the Notice from the Dean? They want to create Safe Spaces on campus where you can't argue about things. Everybody who goes to the space has to have the same opinion ahead of time on the issue or topic or be from the same identity group or share the same experience. So if I create a group called "Polish guys who like cats" and some Russian guy who likes dogs shows up, I can have him thrown out of my Safe Space and get him into a lot of trouble.
Angela: Well, that's going to suck. What's the point of that?
Barry: I don't know, it sounds kind of stupid to me. But legally can they do this? Don't we have a right to disagree with people and to express that?
Angela: This is a private university, so the U.S. Constitution doesn't apply here. You are protected from the government taking your right to speak freely away, unfortunately, this university can definitely stop you from exercising your freedoms and rights. You basically lose all your rights when you agree to be admitted here.
Barry: It's stupid. What's the point of going to a university if you are not going to learn how to argue with civility or express opinions freely? We supposedly have a free country and my university doesn't seem to want to prepare me for it. Nuts.
Angela: I'm with you there. Such a nutty idea. Safe Spaces. Nuts.
Barry: Furthermore, these spaces aren't even necessary. Let's say that I have my Polish guys who like cats group and a Russian dog lover shows up and deliberately causes trouble. He doesn't just express an opinion, but he tries to cause conflict and trouble. We already have the right to call Security and get the guy thrown out. 
Angela: Yep, I hear you loud and clear. It's a really tragically stupid idea and probably people will wake up and realize this sooner or later.

What is Barry's attitude toward the Dean's Notice concerning Safe Spaces?
For the reading passage, it might be a good idea to simply talk about what is happening and why. ***So when you read, just read for what is happening and why.*** For this answer we also want to explain what a Safe Space is.

In this announcement from the Dean's Office, we learn that Safe Spaces on campus will be created. This is being done because it is a new trend around the US and various student groups have requested it.In a Safe Space, students who agree with each other or are like each other will not be bothered by people who are different from themselves or who hold different opinions.

Now transition into the listening section.

However, Barry, in the dialogue, strongly objects to this new program.

Now explain why he is upset.

First of all, he is upset because he feels students need to be able to argue well and to discuss important issues with civility. He believes that an important function of a US university is to provide this experience. Safe Spaces are not preparing students for a democratically free society in which people have to argue about issues.

Secondly, he believes that these spaces are totally unnecessary. As he points out, if someone deliberately disrupts a student meeting, that person can be removed by Security. So every student group is already protected and safe from uncivil conflict. 

Do you need a conclusion? Probably not (based on what I've seen elsewhere), but here's a quick one anyway:

Obviously the university is trying this program as an experiment but both students express strong concerns that this program might be counter to legitimate educational purposes and restrictive of a type of freedom of speech which should be occurring on all US college campuses.

Do you like the Blues Brothers?

Funny video:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.