Wednesday, May 30, 2012


 Today, most people believe that sexual abuse is one of the worst crimes. A person who is subjected to such a crime may have psychological and physical problems in his/her life. Some people argue that a person who commits sexual abuse deserves to be punished by castration which is the removal of the sex glands and is normally defined as a chemical process, using hormones to render them impotent. Although our legal system works on the basis of non-physical punishment, perpetrators of sex crimes must be punished with castration.


To begin with, it can undeniably be said that a sexual offence is one of the worst of crimes. Because it damages its victim both physically and psychologically, these offenders deserve to be punished with suitable punishments. Victims of sexual abuse may not confront the situation and this may lead to many psychological problems. Such a horrific crime mainly stems from physical and psychological urges and thus it is not possible to free offenders from the desire to reoffend without a suitable punishment. In this situation, castration is definitely a suitable response to such a crime.


Moreover, it must be taken into consideration that most offenders want to be free from the desire to reoffend and to be free of these urges. However, like drug addicts, they can not manage to control these urges. Therefore, they find themselves committing sex crimes over and over again. Because no rational counseling will solve the problem, a chemical cure for such urges will prevent a repetition of the crime.


On the other hand, people who are against castration argue that physical punishment is barbaric and has no place in a modern legal system .They believe that our legal system works on the basis of non-physical punishment for crimes committed. However, if a jail term or counseling is not a real solution, considering castration as a strong deterrent is a must.


In conclusion, castration is definitely a suitable punishment which would end public anxiety and prevent a repetition of the crime. It is a suitable method that will eradicate the problem of sexual abuse. As it will end both the sufferings of the offenders and the victims, it is a perfect solution for this problem.
                                              Çağla Gün / Advanced, May


Monday, May 28, 2012


Published: March 31st, 2012; The Economist,

Level of Difficulty: ***

Note to the reader: Firstly, this reading activity has been designed as a precursor to “Why We Lie”; also on this blog. Secondly, the word “die” is not a spelling mistake but an accepted plural form for the word dice.


Read the whole of this little text carefully annotating and underlining as you go. When you have done so, answer the following three questions. When you have checked your answers, move right on to “Why We Lie”

1.       What exactly was the initial purpose of the experimenters?

2.       The first experiment proved that ……………………………………………………………………………………………

3.       After reading the second experiment, what would you say is the take home point concerning cheating? Use your own words.


I discovered this little gem just after completing work on “Why We Lie” and couldn’t believe my eyes. They are a marriage made in heaven and should be done on the same day in tandem with an appropriate video and a writing task.

1.       To find out whether people were more likely to lie about the result of a dice roll when asked the result immediately or when given time to think.

2.       Both groups lied but those who had had more time for reflection lied less.

3.       Possible answer: Cheating is inborn, original a natural tendency or a similar answer


By: Dan Ariely

Published: May 25, 2012; The Wall Street Journal: The Saturday Essay;

Level of Difficulty: ****


1.       How frequently do you believe people lie and cheat on a small scale?

2.       Have you ever lied or cheated? This includes so called white lies.

3.       Why do you think people lie or cheat? Are the reasons personal, social or what?

4.       How do you think people can be encouraged to be more honest?


1.       Read the explanation the locksmith provides concerning the use of locks. This explanation proves that …………………………………………………………… Now state clearly what the implication is for society as a whole.

2.       What does “this” refer to in the phrase “If this were true” in paragraph 3?

3.       What does “that” refer to in the phrase “But that is not how dishonesty works”?

4.       Read the account of the experiment concerning matrices in paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 in the text. Now state clearly what discovery was made concerning cheating as a result.

5.       The higher the amount of money offered for a solved matrix, …………………………………the cheating. The reason for this is ……………………………………………………………………………………..

6.       Read the factors that facilitate cheating in paragraphs 11, 12 and 13 and state clearly what they have in common?

7.       What conclusion can we draw from the methods of combating cheating listed in paragraph 14? Use your own words.

8.       What does “the thought” refer to in the phrase “Inspired by the thought”?

9.       From the experiment described in paragraphs 18 and 19 we can draw the following conclusion: the greater ……………………………………… the less the cheating.

10.   Explain in your own words why putting your name at the top of the tax form seemed to reduce cheating.

11.   If you were asked to place the subtitle “conclusion” somewhere in the text, where would you place it?

12.   What is the implication of the conclusions drawn from all the experiments concerning cheating?

13.   What is the function of the last paragraph of the text? Could we have left it out? Why or why not?


Write an essay discussing the factors that facilitate lying and cheating based on the notes you made while reading both texts. In your conclusion, suggest solutions – which can again be based on the notes you made while reading.


This text should follow the previous little text out of The Economist. Students should be encouraged to make notes on the factors that facilitate lying and also the factors that reduce lying and cheating from both texts as they read in preparation for a writing task to round things off. These points are answers to the questions anyhow so finding them should not present a problem. It would be a good idea to shop around for a video to include in your lesson plan as well.

1.    The Purpose of Locks is to... Society's efforts to deal with dishonesty are misguided.  

2.       If most people were virtuous but a few bad apples spoilt the bunch.

3.       We tend to think that most people are either honest or dishonest.

4.       Lots of people cheat just by a little.

5.       The less; it was harder for people to cheat and still feel good about their integrity.

6.       These facts have everything to do with the balancing act we are constantly performing in our heads.

7.       They are ineffective.

8.       Being reminded of moral codes has a significant effect on how we view our own behavior.

9.       The reminders of morality.

10.   It forced the person into the same position as when faced with a moral dilemma or some such answer.

11.   Just before paragraph 22

12.   Although it is obviously important to pay attention to flagrant misbehavior, it is probably even more important to discourage the small and more ubiquitous forms of dishonesty.

13.   It expands on the basic conclusion which is the answer to the previous question. It looks better to have it.


   It is widely believed that sexual abuse is one of the worst crimes a person can commit. As a punishment of sexual abuse, we can recommend castration by using a chemical process. Chemical castration is to render hormones impotent by using medicines. There are many reasons to believe that men found guilty of sex crimes should be chemically castrated.

     First of all, sexual abuse is one of the worst crimes. The offender damages his victim both physically and psychologically. Such a horrific crime deserves a suitable punishment. When the offender is chemically castrated, he will no longer have physical urges to commit such a crime again. Therefore, chemical castration would stop further crimes by the offender.

     Secondly, chemical castration would also benefit the offenders by freeing them from their urges that motivate them to commit such a crime. There are many sexual criminals who would clearly like to be free of these urges, but can not control their actions. Thus, freeing the offenders with a chemical cure would also help the sexual criminals.

     On the other hand, there are many people who strongly believe that men found guilty of sex crimes should not be castrated because it is barbaric and has no place in a modern legal system. However, chemical castration is not a physical punishment that can be classified as a barbaric punishment. It is a chemical process that makes sex offenders free from their urges. In addition, chemical castration vaccines are effective for only 6 months. Therefore, when the offender is free of his urges, he can stop having shots and can have a normal life.

     To sum up, sexual abuse is a very horrific crime and it deserves a suitable punishment. Chemical castration is a suitable punishment for sex offenders. Thus, chemical castration should be applied in order to prevent sexual abusers.

                                                  By Elif Ceyda Çekmeci / Advanced May

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Me: You’ve got an awful lot of stuff there; you planning to stay the night?

 I just picked these up at that photocopy place. They’re pretty cool. Want to take a peak?

Me: Sure. Sample essays; a whole book of them! You serious? You are supposed to be the internet generation. How much did you pay for this?

Well it wasn’t cheap but they are proficiency type essays… You know the sort we need to write on the test.

Me: Oh I see. And how are those different from “TOEFL type essays” and “IELTS type essays” or any good essay for that matter?

These are written according to the correct plan with all those transition words and markers we have to use. Other essays are different.

Me: Different? Different how? Are they written in a different language?

 Don’t be silly of course not. They have to be written in good English; I know that and all those other texts you were talking about don’t use the same markers and plans. I am going to memorize them and Bob’s your uncle’s live in lover so to speak.

 Me: So we agree they have to be written in good English; that’s a start I suppose. Let’s start with the essence of an essay. What is it that is being tested here? What is being tested is your ability to produce, on your own, a piece of academic writing on a given topic. What your proficiency marker will be looking for is signs you can do that; you know accuracy, a variety of types of sentences of varying degrees of complexity, a command of vocabulary and basic reasoning skills. Do the essays you just bought and paid through the nose for fit the bill do you think?

What about all those markers and phrases and the type of essay you know. Look!

Me: These look as if they have been mass produced by some kind of automated system; you could probably write a computer program to produce what you call proficiency type essays. There is not an original thought in sight or any indication that the writer has much more than a rudimentary grasp of the language. A geriatric newt could write these.

But there aren’t any errors.

 Me: Well think again. There are plenty of uncorrected errors. Have you any idea who wrote these? More importantly though, they are not essays and if you think any essay corrector on the proficiency would be fooled by a page of this jargon you have another thing coming. I would personally mentally delete the pat phrases and clichés and focus on what is left. Sometimes there isn’t much left.

 What do you do then?

Me: I will give you one guess. Can’t very well pass someone if I have no clue whether they can write decent English can I? The proof of the pudding is in the eating; check grades in the last few years. If your system worked, we’d know wouldn’t we?

What do I do now then?

 Me: First of all, stop trying to stick essay writing in the same category as preparing for the OSS. Essays can’t be decoded, broken down into their constituent parts, analyzed and then randomly put together again; you know like Legos or building blocks. Each essay is a well reasoned unit addressing a specific task. Basically, there is only one type of essay: the well reasoned one. Some would say there is only one type of essay the argumentative essay; I am fine with that. Another thing, there are countless ways to organize argumentative essays for instance; you were only taught one. This doesn’t mean other ways are not OK too.

I don’t know what you mean…

Me:  What is your purpose when writing an argumentative essay? To defend your own point of view and refute the counter arguments leaving anyone who disagrees without a leg to stand on. So long as you achieve this, you’re free to do as you like. Do you imagine we penalize people for doing this? Not at all. For one thing, not everyone has had the training you have had and secondly, it is a welcome change. Originality is good, it breaks the monotony, it signals original thought and the idea that there is probably a human being writing the essay and not a zombie and believe you me, that is what you want to go for. We dig originality!

 What about those markers?

Me: How many texts have you read this winter? Have you ever seen a text that has markers interjected anywhere and everywhere? Let me let you into a secret: native speakers don’t use them. They are another cover up for the inability to produce a well reasoned essay. Avoid them.

 How about the points?

 Me: You aren’t compelled to use them either. In fact, I will even go further and urge you to stick in points of your own; give some hint that thought has been put into the essay. Naturally, it is too late in the year for anything radical so stick with the English you are comfortable with but no clichés, no markers and ditch all those pat phrases.

 What about sample essays?

Me: Try my blog or the web. Ever tried Googling sample essays? Let’s do it now. Hand me your phone.  Look at all those sites. And free I might add. Now show me those other books you have.

They are for reading and listening.

 Me: You actually paid for all this when the internet is full of websites that can do the job equally well? Every conceivable site now has a video or podcast section. Not to mention (Voice of America) tedtalks or YouTube.

 They don’t have questions though

Me: No, most don’t but there is a way round that: take notes as you listen. That would be a wonderful substitute for questions. Also you can have subtitles in English on tedtalks, print out the lectures on Voice of America… If you do enough of this kind of listening, it will make an enormous difference I assure you. Plus, there is bonus: you will enjoy yourself!

What about reading? Aren’t these useful?

Me: You don’t expect me to look through all three volumes do you? Past experience tells me they are partly our old stuff, some have mistakes… I remember not being too impressed. One thing I can tell you for sure though is this: our question types have changed. The questions now presuppose an in depth understanding of the content of the text; they are much more analytical. Gone are the days when you follow a verbal cue like a terrier, home in on the synonym for a word and cut and paste an answer without understanding a word.

What do I do then?

Me: There is a secret to this: READ THE B……. TEXT! You can’t seriously expect to be able to answer questions on a reading passage without reading do you? No need to look so surprised; you hardly need to be Einstein to figure this out. As for the questions, try my blog. All my questions are as analytical as the texts will permit. It is like the Leviathan now so it should keep you occupied until D day.

What is D day?

Me: Long story… Tell you if we meet again. There is my stop. You could always Google it of course. Help get your hand with this whole internet lark. Have a good week.


By: George Friedman

Published: April 11, 2012; Stratfor ; May 15,2012 .  Alternatively, Google the title along with the writer’s name.

Level of Difficulty: *****


Read the first three paragraphs of the text.

1.       What is it that holds these three paragraphs together as a meaningful and coherent unit? Analyze to provide specific reasons.

Read “Iran as a Regional Power”

2.       Read the account of the shah’s and Ahmedinejat’s policies. What conclusion can be drawn from this information?

3.       The writer reaches the following conclusion in the second paragraph in this section: “Both acted within the traditions of Iranian strategic subtlety”. Use your own words to state how he reaches this conclusion. Be as brief as possible.

4.       What does “this maneuvering” in the sentence “As a result of this maneuvering, Iran achieved two goals.” Refer to?

5.       Iran regarded getting the US out of Iraq as necessary to avoid ……………………………………………

6.       An opportunity was created for Iran in the region due to the elimination of two other threats as well. They were: ………………………………………………………………………………………………...............

Before moving on, provide a brief summary of this section.

Read “Iran’s Opportunity

7.       Iran’s current strategy involves a fine balancing act which is basically …………………………………

8.       The long standing fear Iran is trying to exploit is ………………………………………………………………….

9.       Read the information concerning North Korea. What specific aspect of North Korean policy did Iran adopt? Be very specific.

10.   What is the advantage of the above policy for Iran?

11.   Read the information concerning Israel. What conclusion can we draw concerning Iranian policy from this information?

Before you move on, provide a brief summary of this section.

Read “Syria’s importance to Iran”

12.   The first paragraph in this section ends with the following sentence: “And this is why the United States is currently obsessing over Syria”. Why exactly is the US obsessing over Syria? To prevent …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

13.   What are the three advantages to Iran of the above strategy? Be brief and to the point.

14.   In the conclusion of the text, the current Iranian strategy is summarized State clearly what it is.

Last of all; provide a brief summary of this section also.


This activity is also based on a brilliant George Friedman analysis of Iran and the country being a neighbour, should interest our students; that and the fact that the essay is again beautifully planned, concise and insightful. This essay lent itself to more challenging comprehension questions and by default, to more challenging summary exercises. I hope it is useful. As with every activity I post, check for related videos on to get the ball rolling; on tedtalks for instance…

  1. The topic sentence: Though always weaker than these larger empires, Iran survived for three reasons: geography, resources and diplomacy. The concluding statement: Whether ruled by shah or ayatollah, Iran’s strategy remained the same: deter by geography, protect with defensive forces and engage in complex diplomatic maneuvers. The first paragraph deals with geography and diplomacy, the second with diplomacy.
  2. We see substantial continuity in Iran’s strategy since WWI. The following sentence is support: Iran dreams of achieving regional dominance by breaking free from its constraints the threats posed by nearby powers. This second sentence is not really the best answer. The reason should be explained to the students.
  3. Possible answer: Both the shah’s and Ahmedinejat’s foreign policy centered on the US which it tried to manipulate.
  4. A sophisticated disinformation campaign helping many factions in Iraq resist Americans, paralyzing the country after the Americans withdrew.
  5. War with the US.
  6. The Ottoman Empire and the USSR.
  7. Solidifying its regional influence while not triggering US retaliation.
  8. The US concern with nuclear weapons
  9. Having a deliverable nuclear weapon
  10. It causes the US to simultaneously take them more seriously and increase its caution while dealing with them.
  11. An attack by Israel, successful or unsuccessful, would cost Iran little and create substantial opportunities. OR: The Iranians want a program not a weapon but having the Israelis attack the program would suit Iran’s interests quite nicely.
  12. An Iranian sphere of influence stretching from western Afghanistan to Beirut.
  13. The Us would abandon ideas of destroying Iran, it would legitimize the regime, Iran could force shifts in the financial distribution of revenues from oil.
  14. To avoid any sudden moves; to create a diversion through its nuclear program.


By: George Friedman

Published:  May 1, 2012; Geopolitical Weekly, Stratfor

 Alternatively, go to, or just Google the title and the writer’s name.

Level of difficulty: ***** (Due to the content, summary exercises and question 16)


Read the introduction and answer the following questions.

1.       Why exactly does Rudyard Kipling describe British imperial power as recessional?

Read “The Rise of Britain” and answer the following questions.

2.       What does “This” refer to in the phrase “This gave Britain dominance in the North Atlantic” and what was its ultimate significance?

3.       The elimination of France as a contender for power was not the only stroke of luck Britain enjoyed. There were two other facts that aided in Britain’s rise as a military and industrial power. They were:

4.       What conclusion can we draw from the information in the fourth paragraph in this section?

5.       Britain was more similar to Rome than Nazi Germany in that it was not ………………………This was the case because ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Before continuing, summarize the section you have just read in a few sentences.

Read “German and US Challenges” and answer the following questions.

6.       The text states: “The window of opportunity that had opened with the defeat of Napoleon was closing”. The two reasons why this was the case are:

7.       A possibility of major political change occurred as a result of WW I. What was it?

8.       Why exactly did Britain’s management of the empire undergo a change in this period?

9.       It is stated in the fourth paragraph in this section that “WW II, the second round of the German war, broke Britain’s power”. Which statement in the same paragraph best qualifies this statement?

10.   What does “this” refer to in the phrase “But the US had no interest in this”. Use your own words.

Before continuing, summarize the section you have just read in a few sentences.

Read “From Suez to Special relationship” and answer the following questions.

11.   The withdrawal of Britain to the British Isles was precipitated by: ……………………………………….

12.   The twist Britain added to its inclusion in the Bretton Woods is termed: ……………………………..

13.   What were the three benefits Britain derived from the above policy?

14.   What led Britain to opt for a policy of maintaining a balance between the US and Europe rather than providing complete support for US policies?

15.   Read the last paragraph in this section and state clearly what conclusion we can draw from it?

Before continuing, summarize the section you have just read in a few sentences.

Read “Keeping its Options Open” and answer the following question.

16.   After reading this last section, decide which sentence in the section best summarizes it.


This activity is based on another concise and well written little gem. The activity is designed to give maximum practice in analytical questions – to the extent which the text permits – and fill in some more gaps in the students’ general knowledge. I can see the whole task, including the summaries, taking 75 minutes. It could be done with intermediate classes in May and advanced classes earlier in the second term. As with every reading activity I post, check for related videos to get the ball rolling; on tedtalks for instance…

1.       Because it controlled about one fourth of the Earth’s land surface and one fifth of the World’s population. Fifty years… I need to apologize for the lengthy answer but some pieces of information are key points that can’t be skipped.

2.       The elimination of France as a significant naval challenger to Britain for several generations; it gave control over trade routes in the Indian and Pacific oceans.

3.       Napoleon’s devastation of continental Europe; the underdevelopment of the US.

4.       The British Empire was foremost a trading block

5.       Exploitative; the Napoleonic wars having crippled most European powers, Britain was not under military pressure for most of the century.

6.       The unification of Germany and the rapid industrialization of the US.

7.       The Empire could be broken.

8.       Because Britain became more dependent on its Empire.

9.       Britain emerged from the war vastly weaker economically and militarily than the US

10.   Britain’s strategy of remaining aligned with the US and trying to find a foundation for the US to underwrite the retention of the Empire.

11.   The US political intervention against the British, French and Israeli attack on Egypt in 1956.

12.   The lieutenant strategy.

13.   Guide the students to formulate answers as follows: special concessions and considerations, the ability to influence US policy, the ability to prompt the use of US forces.

14.   The cost of maintaining the force relative to the benefits, the danger of being drawn so deeply into the US orbit that Britain would lose its freedom of action.

15.   Britain has been able to retain options while limiting its dependency on either side.

16.   The British strategy represents a classic case of a nation accepting reversal, retaining autonomy and accommodating itself to its environment while manipulating it.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


By: George Friedman

Published: Stratfor, Geopolitical Weekly; May 8, 2012

Level of Difficulty: **** (Due to subject matter; the questions themselves, with the exception of the summaries, are easier)

Location: It is suggested you Google the title along with the word Stratfor or the writer’s name to access the article. If you are a subscriber, go straight to


1.       Why will Putin have to adjust Russia’s approach in Europe?

Read: Putin’s Plans for Russia and Beyond

2.       When he first came to power, Putin’s strategy entailed……………………………………… Achieving this was very difficult because………………………………………………………………………………………………..

3.       Read the information in paragraph three carefully. What was the ultimate result of the policies described?

4.       What does “this tactic” refer to in the phrase “it could not use this tactic everywhere in its periphery”?

5.       What foreign policy tool, other than the military, does Putin share with Czarist Russia?

6.       What is the essence of Putin’s method of forming partnerships with countries he considers important?

Before moving on, attempt a brief summary of this section

Read: Putin’s Personal Approach

7.       Closer relations with Russia suited Germany because ……………………………………………………………..

8.       Provide on example of Chancellor Schroeder’s service to Russia on the international front.

9.       What conclusion can be drawn from the information concerning Gazprom?

10.   Why exactly did France respond to Putin’s overtures?

11.   Give one example of a service Chirac provided for Putin’s Russia.

12.   What advantages did Russia gain thanks to Putin’s friendship with Berlusconi?

13.   Give one example of the advantages Russia gained thanks to Prime Minister Putin’s continued friendship with France, Italy and Germany.

Before moving on, attempt a brief summary of this section.

Read: Changes Across Europe

14.   Why is Europe not currently concerned with Russia?

15.   What conclusion can be drawn from the information in the second paragraph in this section?

16.   Read the story of the US ballistic defense plans. How is the reaction of the current Italian government different from what it would have been in the past?

17.   What does “this” refer to in the phrase “this strategy has been cut back”?

18.   What is Russia’s main objective according to the text? Why are personal relations not the best way to achieve those objectives?


This concise yet superb account of Putin’s strategy should closely follow Russia’s Strategy – also on this blog – to complete the picture. I plan to spend one morning on both texts. The brief summary exercises should be checked orally.  It should be noted that these summary exercises are harder than the questions but they should be done as they provide such vital practice of an important cognitive skill.

1.       Because an anti-incumbent trend is developing in Europe.

2.       Stability and security; Russia is the world’s largest and also internally diverse country and is surrounded by potentially hostile powers.

3.       Russia was strong and steady.

4.       The first tactic or mobilizing Russia’s military to push out foreign influence.

5.       Creating alliances of convenience.

6.       Building personal relations.

7.       Russia is the world’s largest energy producer and exporter and also a place for potential heavy investment.

8.       Schroeder was alone among Western governments in not vociferously supporting Ukraine’s Orange Revolution OR Schroeder led European opposition to US efforts to begin the NATO accession process for Ukraine and Georgia.

9.       Schroeder’s ejection from office in 2005 did not end their friendship OR Schroeder’s usefulness to Putin.

10.   France has an interest in making sure it is not left out when Russia and Germany meet.

11.   Putin and Chirac allied politically against the US led war in Iraq. Chirac lobbied against NATO’s expansion to include the Baltic states of…

12.   The relationship between Russian and Italian energy companies.

13.   Complicating NATO expansion, pushing Moscow’s agenda with NATO, expanding military relationships and becoming capable of invading Georgia without European or NATO intervention.

14.   Because it is focused on keeping itself and some form of European alliance intact.

15.   Putin’s tactics of using personal relationships to help strengthen Russia’s position in Europe seem to be outdated.

16.   In the past, it would have supported Russia’s position.

17.   Germany, France and Italy would invest heavily in Russia’s economy and financial sector.

18.   To keep European powers divided while extracting what Moscow wants financially and technologically; because they are fleeting.