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The State of the Nation


Discuss with your partner:

1. Are you an optimistic or a pessimitic person? Can you give an example.
2. Are you optimistic or pessimitic about the future of Singapore? Why?
3. How about for your own country?
4. What problems is your country facing?

The State of the Nation

VOCABULARY The government, economics and society

Read these sentences. Are there any words that you don't understand? Check with your partner.

1 The government's made a huge difference since they came to power. They've done a lot to help the poor.
2 There's too much bureaucracy. Businesses spend half their time dealing with official paperwork!
3 There's a recession. The economy's in a total mess.
4 The government is soft on drugs. They should introduce stricter penalties.
5 A lot of companies have gone bankrupt recently, so unemployment's going up.
6 The economy's booming. Lots of new businesses are starting up and plenty of new jobs are being created.
7 With so little rain, there are a lot of water shortages.
8 The government's policies for the protection of the environment have boosted our reputation in the world.
9 Their policies are undermining national unity. They've created divisions and made society less stable.
10 People are really struggling because wages are so low and the cost of living's so high.

2 Work in groups. Discuss whether you think the sentences in Exercise 1 are true or false for your country. Explain why.
Number 1 isn't true in my country. Actually, the opposite is true. The government hasn't made any difference to most people's lives. They've done a lot for the rich – and nothing for the poor.

3 (20) Listen to two students talking about their countries. Take notes on the political and economic situation in each country. Whose country sounds like it's in a better situation – the man's or the woman's? Why?

5 Work in pairs. Discuss the questions.
- Have you ever voted? What did you vote in?
- Why do you think people choose not to vote in elections? What could be done to encourage them?
- Do you know of any recent election controversies?
- How bureaucratic is your country? Give some examples.
- Have you heard of anyone who has had problems with bureaucracy and administration?

6 Look at these examples from the conversation in Exercise 3. Complete the rules below.

so and such
So and such are often used to link cause and result.
The opposition are so busy fighting among themselves, they're not going to make any difference.
There's such a skills shortage that companies are paying really good money now.

1 Use so before an adjective, adverb or words like much or many.
2 Use such before a noun or adjective + noun.
3 You don't have to start the result clause with that — especially in spoken English.

7 Complete each sentence starter with so or such.
1 The government is __________________ worried about its falling popularity ...
2 Food prices have gone up __________________ quickly ...
3 Most people have to work __________________ long hours ...
4 The police made __________________ a mess of the investigation ...
5 The area ended up being __________________ polluted ...
6 The government minister was involved in __________________ a terrible public scandal ...

8 Work in pairs. Write a possible ending for each sentence in Exercise 7. Compare your ideas with those in Exercise 3. Do you understand your partner's ideas? Ask your partner to explain why they wrote this.

9 Discuss with your partner. Have you heard any news stories similar to the ones in Exercise 7? What happened in the end?


Showing understanding
To show we agree and understand when someone is talking about problems, we can use expressions such as:

I know! Tell me about it!

and then add a comment.

If we disagree or don't feel sympathy, we often soften our response:

I know what you mean, but ... Yeah, I guess. Mind you ...

10 Match the problems 1–6 with the responses a–f.

1 I don’t know how people can make ends meet.
2 The job market is so competitive at the moment.
3 The pace of life is so fast here.
4 There’s so much crime, you can’t go out at night!
5 They haven’t done anything to boost tourism.
6 This country is so bureaucratic!

a I know! It’s exhausting. I feel like I spend my life just rushing around.
b Tell me about it! I can only just get by and I’ve got a good job.
c Tell me about it! I had to fill in four forms in three different places to get a work permit!
d I know what you mean, but if you’re prepared to be flexible there’s plenty of work.
e Yeah, maybe. Mind you, it's not like that everywhere. If you avoid certain areas, it's perfectly safe.
f Yeah, I know what you mean. Mind you, look what they’ve done to improve poor areas. That’s great.

11. Write 5 opinions about Singapore, Singaporean food, learning English, living in your country, bringing up children, doing housework etc. Try to think of opinions that your partner will agree with.

Have conversations like this:

A: Singapore is very bureacratic.
B: Tell me about it! I had to fill in 3 forms to import some cheese.

Try to continue the conversation as long as possible.

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