Module 1 Reading
The City of the Future What will the city of the future look like? No one knows for sure, and making predictions is a risky business. But one thing is certain—they
are going to get bigger before they get smaller. In the future, care for the environment will become very important as earth's natural resources run out. We will use lots of recycled materials, such as plastic, aluminium, steel, glass, wood and paper, and we will waste fewer natural resources. We will also have to rely more on alternative energy, such as solar and wind power. All this seems certain, but there are plenty of things about city life in the future which are not certain. To find out what young people think about the future of urban life, a teacher at a university in Texas in the United States asked his students to think how they would run a city of 50,000 people in the year 2025. Here are some of the ideas they had: Garbage ships To get rid of garbage problems, the city will load huge spaceships with waste materials and send them towards the sun, preventing landfill and environmental problems. Batman Nets Police will arrest criminals by firing nets instead of guns. Forget smoking No smoking will be allowed within a future city's limits. Smoking will be possible only outside cities, and outdoors. Forget the malls In the future all shopping will be done online, and catalogues will have voice commands to place orders.
Telephones for life Everyone will be given a telephone number at birth that will never change no matter where they live. Recreation All forms of recreation, such as cinemas, bowling, softball, concerts and others, will be provided free of charge by the city. Cars All cars will be powered by electricity, solar energy or wind, and it will be possible to change the colour of cars at the flick of a switch. Telesurgery Distance surgery will become common as doctors carry out operations from thousands of miles away, with each city having its own telesurgery outpatient clinic. Holidays at home Senior citizens and people with disabilities will be able to go anywhere in the world using high-tech cameras attached to their head. Space travel Travelling in space by ordinary citizens will be common. Each city will have its own spaceport. Cultural Corner Famous Last Words Not all predictions come true. Many of them are wrong, and some are very wrong. Here are just a few of the bad predictions people made in the twentieth century about the twenty-first century: AIRPLANES "No flying machine will ever fly from New York to Paris." Orville Wright, 1908. COMPUTERS "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." Thomas Waston, chairman of IBM, 1943.
CLOTHES "Thirty years from now people will be wearing clothes made of paper which they will be able to throw away after wearing them two or three times." Changing Times Magazine, 1957. MEN ON THE MOON "With the first moon colonies predicted for the 1970's, work is now in progress on the types of building required for men to stay in when they're on the moon." Arnold B. Barach in The Changes to Come, 1962. THE BEATLES "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962. ROBOTS IN THE HOUSE "By the year 2000, housewives will probably have a robot shaped like a box with one large eye on the top, several arms and hands, and long narrow pads on the side for moving about." New York Times, 1966. KEYS "By the mid-1980's no one will ever need to hide a key under the doormat again, because there won't be any keys." Computer scientist Christopher Evans, The Micro Millennium, 1979.
Module 2 Reading Getting Around in Beijing Taxis Taxis are on the streets 24 hours a day. Simply raise your hand, and a taxi appears in no time. They are usually red, and they display the price per kilometre on the window. You should check the cab has a business permit, and make sure you ask for a receipt. Buses and trolleybuses Public transport provides a cheap way to get around in Beijing. There are 20,000 buses and trolleybuses in Beijing, but they can get very crowded. It's a good idea to avoid public transport during the rush hour (6:30 a.m.–8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.–6:30 p.m.). Fares are cheap, starting at 1 yuan. Air-conditioned buses cost more. Buses numbered 1 to 100 are limited to travel within the city centre. Higher numbers have destinations in the suburbs. Tourists shouldn't miss the 103 bus which offers one of the most impressive routes, past the Forbidden City and the White Pagoda in Beihai Park. If you get on a double-decker bus, make sure you sit upstairs. You'll have a good view of the rapidly changing city. Most buses run from about 5:00 a.m. to midnight. However, there is also a night bus service, provided by buses with a number in the 200s. Minibuses Minibuses with seats for 12 passengers offer an alternative to expensive taxis and crowded public transport in some areas. They run regular services and follow the same routes as large public buses. And in a minibus you always get a seat even in rush hours.
Underground There are four underground lines in Beijing, and several lines are under construction. Trains are fast and convenient, but rush hours can be terrible. A one-way trip costs 3 yuan. Station names are marked in pinyin. The underground is open from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Pedicabs Tourists like these human-pedalled "tricycle taxis", but they can be expensive. You should talk to the driver, and make sure you know the price before you begin the journey, for example, if it is per person, single or return. Tricycles are worth using if you want to explore the narrow alleys (hutong) of old Beijing. Cultural Corner The London Congestion Charge Beijing isn't the only city with traffic problems. You can get stuck in a traffic jam anywhere in the world. The worst problems occur in cities which are growing fast, such as Sao Paolo in Brazil and Lagos in Nigeria. But even cities in developed countries such as the US suffer. Los Angeles, which was built with the motor car in mind, and is famous for its six-lane highways, is now the USA's most congested city. In Europe most capital cities were planned and built before cars, and city centre traffic jams have been part of daily life for a long time. The situation in central London, where drivers spent fifty percent of their time in queues, became so bad that the local government decided to do something about it. In February 2003 the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, introduced a "congestion charge"—a tax for cars entering the centre of the city.
The idea is simple: every car coming into the centre has to pay ? 5 a day. Drivers can pay the charge at any of 10,000 pay points in the capital before 10 p.m. As the cars come into the centre, video cameras record their registration numbers, and these are checked with a list of drivers who have paid the charge for that day. People who do not pay the charge will face a fine of ? 80. Most Londoners are not happy with the idea. They agree that London has a traffic problem, but the congestion charge is expensive, and limits their freedom ... But does the congestion charge work? A survey carried out at the end of 2003 suggests it does. After only six months, traffic coming into central London was reduced by about 30 percent, and journey times by 15 percent. More people used public transport to get to work, and bicycles were suddenly very popular. What's more, central London shops did not lose business even though there were fewer cars. But there are a few people who think the charge should be much higher, for example rich businessmen who work in the city centre and can easily afford it. This would keep even more cars out of central London, and the roads would be nearly empty. However, there are no plans to increase the charge.
Module 3 Reading Greetings Around the World If you say the word "communication", most people think of words and sentences. Although these are very important, we communicate with more than just spoken and written words. Indeed, body positions are part of what we call "body language". We see examples of unconscious body language very often, yet there is also "learned" body language, which varies from culture to culture.
We use "learned" body language when we are introduced to strangers. Like other animals, we are on guard until we know it is safe to relax. So every culture has developed a formal way to greet strangers, to show them we are not aggressive. Traditionally, Europeans and Americans shake hands. They do this with the right hand—the strongest hand for most people. If our right hand is busy greeting someone, it cannot be holding a weapon. So the gesture is saying, "I trust you. Look, I'm not carrying a threatening weapon." If you shake hands with someone, you show you trust them. We shake hands when we make a deal. It means, "We agree and we trust each other." Greetings in Asian countries do not involve touching the other person, but they always involve the hands. Traditionally in China, when we greet someone, we put the right hand over the left and bow slightly. Muslims give a "salaam", where they touch their heart, mouth and forehead. Hindus join their hands and bow their heads in respect. In all of these examples, the hands are busy with the greeting and cannot hold a weapon. Even today, when some people have very informal styles of greeting, they still use their hands as a gesture of trust. American youths often greet each other with the expression, "Give me five!" One person then holds up his hand, palm outwards and five fingers spread. The other person raises his hand and slaps the other's open hand above the head in a "high five". Nowadays, it is quite a common greeting. Body language is fascinating for anyone to study. People give away much more by their gestures than by their words. Look at your friends and family and see if you are a mind reader!
Cultural Corner Clapping
Why do we clap? To show we like something, of course. But we don't clap at the end of a television programme or a book, however good they are. We clap at the end of a live performance, such as a play, or a concert, to say thank you to the performers. First they give, and then we give. Without us—the audience—the performance would not be complete. The custom of clapping has early beginnings. In classical Athens, applause meant judgement and taking part. Plays were often in competition with each other, and prolonged clapping helped a play to win. The theatre was large —it could hold 14,000 people, half the adult male population of the city, which meant that the audience could make a lot of noise. Applause was a sign of being part of the community, and of equality between actors and audience. The important thing was to make the noise together, to add one's own small handclap to others. Clapping is social, like laughter: you don't very often clap or laugh out loud alone. It is like laughter in another way, too: it is infectious, and spreads very quickly. Clapping at concerts and theatres is a universal habit. But some occasions on which people clap change from one country to another. For example, in Britain people clap at a wedding, but in Italy they sometimes clap at a funeral.
Module 4 Reading The Student Who Asked Questions In a hungry world rice is a staple food and China is the world's largest producer. Rice is also grown in many other Asian countries, and in some European countries like Italy. In the rice-growing world, the Chinese scientist, Yuan Longping,
is a leading figure. Yuan Longping was born and brought up in China. As a boy he was educated in many schools and was given the nickname, "the student who asks questions". From an early age he was interested in plants. He studied agriculture in college and as a young teacher he began experiments in crop breeding. He thought that the key to feeding people was to have more rice and to produce it more quickly. He thought there was only one way to do this—by crossing different species of rice plant, and then he could produce a new plant which could give a higher yield than either of the original plants. First Yuan Longping experimented with different types of rice. The results of his experiments were published in China in 1966. Then he began his search for a special type of rice plant. It had to be male. It had to be sterile. Finally, in 1970 a naturally sterile male rice plant was discovered. This was the breakthrough. Researchers were brought in from all over China to develop the new system. The research was supported by the government. As a result of Yuan Longping's discoveries Chinese rice production rose by 47.5 percent in the 1990's. There were other advantages too. 50 thousand square kilometres of rice fields were converted to growing vegetables and other cash crops. Following this, Yuan Longping's rice was exported to other countries, such as Pakistan and the Philippines. In Pakistan rice is the second most important crop after wheat and will be grown in many parts of the country. The new hybrid rice has been developed by the Yuan Longping Hightech Agricultural Company of China. Its yield is much greater than the yield of other types of rice grown in Pakistan.
Rockets Today rockets are very advanced machines which we can use to send astronauts into space. They are also used in firework displays to celebrate great events, such as the end of the Olympic Games or the beginning of the new millennium in the year 2000. Rockets were probably invented by accident about 2,000 years ago. The Chinese had a form of gunpowder which was put in bamboo tubes and thrown into fires to make explosions during festivals. Perhaps some of the tubes jumped out of the fire instead of exploding in it. The Chinese discovered that the gas escaping from the tube could lift it into the air. The idea of the rocket was born. The first military use of rockets was in 1232. The Song Dynasty was at war with the Mongols. During the battle of Kaifeng, the Song army shot "arrows of flying fire". The tubes were attached to a long stick which helped keep the rocket moving in a straight direction. Soon the Mongols learned how to make rockets themselves and it is possible that they introduced them to Europe. Between the 13th and 15th centuries there were many rocket experiments in England, France and Italy. They were used for military purposes. One Italian scientist even invented a rocket which could travel over the surface of water and hit an enemy ship. But not everybody wanted to use rockets in battles. Wan Hu, a Chinese government official, invented a flying chair. He attached two big kites to the chair, and 47 rockets to the kites. The rockets were lit, there was a huge explosion and clouds of thick smoke. When the smoke cleared Wan Hu and his chair had disappeared. No one knows what happened. Did Wan Hu die in the explosion? Or was he carried miles into space, becoming the world's first astronaut?
Module 5 Reading A Trip Along the Three Gorges In August 1996, Peter Hessler, a young American teacher of English, arrived in the town of Fuling on the Yangtze River. He and a colleague were to spend two years there teaching English at a teacher training college. They were the only foreigners in the town. The first semester finished at the end of January and they had four weeks off for the Spring Festival. They could go anywhere they wished. They decided to take a boat downstream.
We decided to buy tickets for the Jiangyou boat. Our colleagues said, "You shouldn't go on those ships. They are very crowded. They are mainly for goods and people trading along the river. They don't stop at the temples and there won't be any
other foreigners." That sounded fine to me. We just had to show our passports and they let us get on the boat. We left the docks on a beautiful afternoon. The sun was shining brightly as we sailed downstream through a hilly region. Men rode bamboo rafts along the river's edge and coal boats went past. As the sun set we docked at Fengdu. We could see the sun setting behind the white pagoda. It was beautiful. We slept through the first gorge, which is called the Qutang Gorge. The gorge narrows to 350 feet as the river rushes through the two-mile-high mountains. "Oh, well," my friend said, "at least we have two more left." At Wushan we made a detour up the Daning River to see some of the smaller gorges. The next day we went through the big gorges on the Yangtze River. It was a lovely morning as we went through the Wu Gorge. We passed the Xiang River, home of Qu Yuan, the 3rd century BC poet. There was so much history along the Yangtze River. Every rock looked like a person or animal, every stream that joined the great river carried its legends, every hill was heavy with the past. As we came out of the third gorge, the Xiling Gorge, we sailed into the construction site of the dam. All the passengers came on deck. We took pictures and pointed at the site, but we weren't allowed to get off the boat. The Chinese flag was blowing in the wind. On a distant mountain was a sign in 20-foot characters. "Build the Three Gorges Dam, Exploit the Yangtze River," it said.
Cultural Corner Postcards to Myself In 50 years of travelling Colin McCorquodale has visited every country in the world, except three. And everywhere he goes, he sends himself a postcard. He always chooses a
postcard with a beautiful view, and sticks on an interesting stamp. Usually he writes just a short message to himself. His latest one, from the Malvinas islands, reads Good fishing. On a wall in his home in London there is a large map of the world. There are hundreds of little red pins stuck in it. "It's good to get a pin in the map," says Mr McCorquodale, "but I follow the rules. I'm allowed to stick one in only if I've been in a place for more than 24 hours." Naturally, Mr McCorquodale has his favourite places. New Zealand he describes as "wonderful". In Europe, Italy is a favourite place. "There's a saying in the travel trade that all tourists are ripped off. Well, at least the Italians rip you off with a smile." Of China he says,"This is one country in the world which is completely different. There's no European influence. It's been around for 6,000 years, yet it's a country of the future." Wherever he goes, Mr McCorquodale takes with him a photo of his wife, a candle, a torch, a shirt with a secret pocket, and a pen for writing his postcards. So why does he do it? For the postcards or the travel? Mr McCorquodale laughs. "I do it for the journey," he says. "I get a kick out of travelling. And all the planning."
Module 6 Reading The Monster of Lake Tianchi The "Monster of Lake Tianchi" in the Changbai Mountains in Jilin province, northeast China, is back in the news after several recent sightings. The director of a local tourist office, Meng Fanying, said the monster, which seemed to be black in colour, was ten metres from the edge of the lake during the most recent sighting. "It jumped out of the water like a seal—about 200 people on Changbai's western peak
saw it," he said. Although no one really got a clear look at the mysterious creature, Xue Junlin, a local photographer, claimed that its head looked like a horse. In another recent sighting, a group of soldiers claim they saw an animal moving on the surface of the water. The soldiers, who were walking along the side of the lake, watched the creature swimming for about two minutes. "It was greenish-black and had a round head with 10-centimetre horns", one of the soldiers said. A third report came from Li Xiaohe, who was visiting the lake with his family. He claims to have seen a round black creature moving quickly through the water. After three or four hundred metres it dived into the water. Ten minutes later the monster appeared again and repeated the action. Mr Li Xiaohe said that he and his family were able to see the monster clearly because the weather was fine and the lake was calm. There have been reports of monsters in Lake Tianchi since the beginning of the last century, although no one has seen one close up. Some photos have been taken but they are not clear because it was too far away. Many people think the monster may be a distant cousin of the Loch Ness monster in Scotland. They also think that there might be similar creatures in other lakes around the world. Scientists, however, are sceptical. They say that the low-temperature lake is unlikely to be able to support such large living creatures. Lake Tianchi is the highest volcanic lake in the world. It is 2,189 metres high and covers an area of about ten square kilometres. In places it is more than 370 metres deep. Cultural Corner The Universal Dragon
Dragons can be friendly or fierce, they can bring good luck or cause death and destruction, but one thing is sure— people talk about them almost everywhere in the world. For a creature that doesn't actually exist, that's quite something. In Chinese culture, dragons are generous and wise, although they can be unpredictable. The dragon was closely connected to the royal family: the emperor's robes have a symbol of a gold dragon with five claws. Other members of the royal family were allowed to wear dragon symbols, too, but with fewer claws and of a different colour. According to popular belief, if you were born in the year of the dragon, you are intelligent, brave, and a natural leader. But in the west, dragons had a different reputation. The very first text in English, the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, tells the story of a Scandinavian hero, Beowulf, who fights and kills a dangerous dragon but is himself killed in the fight. However, across the border in Wales, the red dragon which appears on the Welsh flag is a positive symbol, indicating strength and a sense of national identity. Why should the dragon have a different character in different parts of the world? Some experts believe it is due to the animals the myths grew out of. In the west, the idea of the dragon probably came from the snake—an animal which people hated and were afraid of. But in China, the idea of the dragon may have come from the alligator —a shy animal which lives in rivers, but which is usually only seen when there is plenty of water—a good sign for agriculture. So the Chinese dragon was a bringer of good fortune.
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