Thursday, November 16, 2017

Practice/example for Question # 3, TOEFL Speaking

Please read this letter to the school newspaper from a person who lives near Urban College.

Dear Editor at UC Student News,

I live in your neighborhood. Your students are a real asset here; I wish we could interact with them more often and more meaningfully.

Has your administration ever thought of building student housing on campus? UC is DEAD from 5pm Friday until 9am Monday. This is such a shame. If you had campus housing I think this whole neighborhood would develop around UC and you'd have bars, music venues, art galleries, better restaurants, bowling alleys, cafes, you name it. Right now there are so few places to eat or have fun here.

Student life would be so much more enriched!!!! The neighborhood would be so enriched!!!! Think of the new jobs you would create!

Right now you've got a commuter college - and that kind of sucks. College is so much more than getting on a bus and schlepping to and from school. Also, getting to UC is such a pain in the behind. It is necessary to take a bus to the nearest subway. If you had student housing, it would FILL UP in no-time, especially if, unlike other colleges/universities, you did not price gouge students. Create nice, affordable housing and the lives of students and the whole neighborhood would be improved.

Please consider this?

Joe, a guy who lives near UC.


Dialogue between students:

Jon: Hey, Tess, I'm so glad that someone from the neighborhood is proposing student housing at UC. He's right, I like the school and students but this place is just dead most of the time.

Tess: Well, Jon, I have to agree to disagree with you on this issue. I say leave UC alone, it's good enough.

Jon: What the heck! I thought you were kind of open-minded and open to seeing things change?

Tess: Well, I am, but not in this case. First of all, look around this neighborhood. It's all middle class housing. I don't see any room, any physical room for development. What are they going to do, tear some houses down to bring in art galleries and bowling alleys? I think the people here might be happy with a nice, quiet domestically-oriented neighborhood. They want houses, not a party atmosphere. The whole area around the school is just filled with houses.

Jon: Well, nobody said there's going to be a party atmosphere, just more things to do, more businesses, more jobs! 

Tess: Also, a commuter college is not, in itself, a bad thing, for one, it's cheaper. Let's be realistic, student housing is always much more expensive than off campus housing. Price gouging is almost inevitable. You and I know that colleges are a business, they'll build student housing, charge a fortune for it, and only the wealthiest students will live on campus and the rest of us will commute from home. This way, as it is now, everyone is in the same boat and everyone can save money. I eat breakfast and dinner at home, and save a ton in rent. I'm sure that I'm not alone. There are enough of us who like the situation as it is that we need to keep it this way. Also, I live in a giant city, I don't need a college campus to have fun, I have the entire city to explore. 

Jon: Yeah, let's agree to disagree on this one. I think you are way wrong, but that's cool. Let's get some Chinese take-out at the only place near campus for lunch today - can we agree on that?

Tess: We sure can!   


Sample answer:

In this letter to the student newspaper, someone from the Urban College neighborhood proposes that student housing should be built at Urban College. He thinks this would benefit the school and neighborhood.

However, in the dialogue, the female student disagrees.

First, she points out there is literally no room for student housing in the neighborhood. It is filled with middle-class housing. She also feels some of this housing might have to be destroyed for student housing or to build places to benefit the students. Basically she feels the residents have a right to a peaceful neighborhood as it already is.

She also feels that commuting to school is just fine. In fact she saves money this way. Furthermore, she doesn't need lots of fun places around campus because she lives in a huge city and can move about freely.

So student housing might benefit both the neighborhood and the school, but the current situation for students and the neighborhood might not warrant change.


Just for fun, one of my favorite 90s bands: