Task 2A in the Engelsk fellesfag exam from spring 2020 requires you to create a text in which you discuss a current social or cultural issue which was discussed during your course.
Possible issues to discuss
As we do not know which current social and cultural issues you have discussed during your course, we will focus on the texts in the preparation material. Therefore, based on the preparation material, some of the issues you could talk about in your text are:
- Discrimination (Texts 1a, 1b, 2a, 3, 4, 5b) - refers to people being treated unjustly based on the social group and/or class they belong to. The most common forms of discrimination are based on gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Also, many people experience discrimination as a result of belonging to more than one minority or group that is typically discriminated against.
- Gun violence and gun control (Texts 4-A1 and A2) - an issue in countries such as the US, where rules for gun ownership are more relaxed. Multiple mass shootings have taken place in the US in recent years, sparking debates about the need for stricter laws and regulations on gun purchase and use.
- Brexit (Texts 4-C1 and C2) – refers to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, following a referendum in 2016.
- Environmental issues (Texts 4-B1, B2, D1, D2, 5a, 5b) - refers to the negative impact that human activity has on the environment. Such issues include global warming, air and water pollution, heavy deforestation, and meat consumption.
- Access to sex education (text 7)– typically refers to having access to a broad range of topics related to general and sexual development and health, sexual behavior, relationships, sexuality, etc.
Explain and discuss opposing views
Text 1a and 1b suggest that one current issue is discrimination against girls and women in general and in sports in particular. The use of Maori words in Text 1b could also signal that, in New Zealand, a current issue is discrimination against native Maori female athletes. The opposing views are implied in both texts, as it is suggested there are people who look down on girls and women for their gender, their age, or their ethnicity (l. 14).
Text 2a suggests that people with vocational education can also experience discrimination, as they are perceived as having a lower social status than those with an university degree (ll. 13-14). The opposing view on vocational education is presented in Text 2b. It includes statistics showing that people in Australia who pursue vocational education have a bigger salary, a better chance at finding a job, and better future job prospects than university graduates. The text also includes a statistic that shows that there are jobs available in various trades for vocational training graduates.
Text 3 explores discrimination against African Americans in the US. It focuses on police bias and violence against black people, and especially against those who live in neighborhoods where drug-dealing and gang activities take place. Additionally, the character in the extract addresses the issue of the media’s bias against black people (ll. 37-38). The text also points to some people’s belief that those involved in criminal activities deserve to be punished severely and that their killing is justified. Starr also mentions that “not all cops are bad (…) they risk their lives” (l. 51). Note that these arguments are also used often by those who do not believe that police discrimination and violence against African Americans is an issue.
Both Text 5b and Text 4-A1 show discriminatory attitudes against young people and people with mental disorders whom some perceive as vulnerable to manipulation and unreliable.
Gun violence and gun control
Text 4-A1 focuses on American legislators’ inaction concerning gun violence in the US and suggests that people, rather than organizations with special interests, should influence law-makers’ decisions. The text disclaims two popular arguments against stricter gun control – that stricter gun laws do not decrease gun violence, and that armed guards or teachers are needed in schools to stop shooters. These views are reflected in Text 4-A2 , where the main argument is that children are in danger and that armed guards are needed to protect them from school shooters. Text 4-A2 also warns that laws that ban guns in schools will attract shooters because they know no one will be able to oppose them.
Text 4-C1 shows how the Leave campaign portrayed Brexit as a solution to the country’s problems, with a focus on the health services crisis. The text also notes opposing views to the Leave Campaign, showing that it received criticism both from the press and from officials who believed that the campaign misrepresented the actual sum owed to the EU and did not take into account the money received from the EU.
Text 4-C2 focuses on the efforts made by the group “Brexit: Is it worth it?” to bring to the public’s attention the costs of Brexit, which they claimed would be much greater than the sum that the Vote Leave campaign claimed Britain gave weekly to the EU. However, the group’s claim that Brexit will cost £2,000 million a week was also investigated by journalists. They discovered that this is an estimated cost that depends on many unknown factors, making the claim unreliable.
Text 4-B1 discusses the positive impact of a vegan diet, and the negative impact of a meat diet on the environment. However, Text 4-B2 suggests that eating locally raised meat is better for the environment than eating imported fruit and vegetables. However, this is not necessarily the case, as meat rearing is typically very carbon intensive.
Text 4-D1 states that electric cars are emission-free, which can help improve air quality and help avoid health problems caused by air pollution. On the other hand, text 4-D2 argues that electric cars are good for the environment only if they use electricity from renewable sources. It also links electric cars with environmental and social issues.
Text 5a focuses on world leaders not putting enough effort into stopping climate change. The speaker, Greta Thunberg, addresses this issue from the perspective of her generation, who will have to deal with the consequences of today’s world leaders’ inaction. Text 5b features two responses to Greta Thunberg’s speech and, implicitly, to the issues she presents. Michael Knowles suggests that climate change is not a real issue, because it is not led by scientists. This is contrary to the fact that most climate scientists agree on the existence of climate change and its consequences. The text also includes a tweet that reflects the position of climate-change deniers who also believe that climate change is a political conspiracy created to control people.
Access to sex education
Text 7 presents opposing views related to access to sex education. Because Mississippi’s sex education law forbids teachers from showing teenagers how to use condoms, Mississippi teacher Sandford Johnson explains the process by showing them how to use socks to protect their feet. Access to sex education is a controversial topic in the US. Sex education is taught in almost every state, but the information made available in each state varies and is not always based on scientific facts. Clearly, Johnson is an advocate of safe sex and contraception. However, in states such as Mississippi and other states where religion plays an important role in the community, sexual education typically focuses on advocating sexual abstinence rather than on providing information about sex and related issues.
For this part of task 2A in the Engelsk fellesfag exam from spring 2020, Text 8 in the preparation material might help you in writing your text.
How the opposing sides get their message across
Text 2a suggests that a university degree is better than vocational education.
To get its message across, the text uses the pronoun “you”, speaking directly to readers and getting them involved. A similar effect is achieved by using questions: “Would you rather wear fancy suits or boiler suits to work each day?” (l. 12), offering a negative perspective on vocational education. Text 2b also uses direct address, involving the readers: ”If you take a vocational course in one of these trades, then these jobs can be yours!”
In Text 41-A, Gonzalez also ends her speech with a call to action, showing...