READING PASSAGE 1 -The Connection Between Culture and Thought

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13, which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.

The Connection Between Culture and Thought


The world’s population has surpassed 7 billion and continues to grow. Across the globe, humans have many differences. These differences can be influenced by factors such as geography, climate, politics, nationality, and many more. Culture is one such aspect that can change the way people behave.


Your culture may influence your clothing, your language, and many aspects of your life. But is culture influential enough to change the way an individual thinks? It has long been believed that people from different cultures would think differently. For example, a young boy from a farm would talk about cows while a boy from New York will talk about cars. If two young children from different countries are asked about their thoughts about a painting, they would answer differently because of their cultural backgrounds.


In recent years, there has been new research that changed this long-held belief; However, this new research is not the first to explore the idea that culture can change the way we think. Earlier research has provided valuable insight to the question. One of the earliest research projects was  carried out in the Soviet Union. This project was designed to find out whether culture would affect peopled way of thought processing. The researchers focused on how living environment and nationality might influence how people think. The experiment led by Bessett aimed to question such awareness of cognitive psychology. Bessett conducted several versions of the experiment to test different cognitive processes.


One experiment led by Bessett and Masuku showed an animated video picturing a big fish swimming among smaller fish and other sea creatures. Subjects were asked to describe the scene. The Japanese participants tended to focus on the aquatic background, such as the plants and colour of the water, as well as the relationship between the big and small fish. American participants tended to focus on individual fishes, mainly the larger, more unique looking fish. The experiment suggested that members of Eastern cultures focus more on the overall picture, while members of Western culture focus more on the individuals.


In another experiment performed by Bessett and Choi, the subjects were presented with some very convincing evidence for a position. Both the Korean and the American showed strong support. And after they were given some evidence opposing the position, the Korean started to modified or decreased their support. However, the American began to give more support to the former argument. This project suggested that in Korean culture, support for arguments is based on context. Ideas and conclusions are changeable and flexible, so an individual may be more willing to change his or her mind. For Americans, they were less willing to change their original conclusion.


Bessett and Ara devised an experiment to test the thought processing of both oriental and occidental worlds. Test subject was given an argument “All animals with furs hibernate. Rabbit has fur. Therefore, rabbit hibernate”. People from the eastern world questioned the argument as not being logical, because in their knowledge some furry animals just don’t hibernate. But the American think the statement is right. They assume the logic deduction is based on a correct argument, thus the conclusion is right since the logic is right.


From these early experiments in the Soviet Union, one might conclude that our original premise— that culture can impact the way we think—was still correct. However, recent research criticises this view, as well as Bessett’s early experiments. Though these experiments changed the original belief on thought processing, how much does it result from all factors needs further discussion. Fischer thinks Bessett’s experiments provide valuable information because his research only provides qualitative descriptions, not results from controlled environment. Chang partly agrees with him, because there are some social factors that might influence the results.


Another criticism of Bessett’s experiments is that culture was studied as a sub-factor of nationality. The experiments assumed that culture would be the same among all members of a nationality. For example, every American that participated in the experiments could be assumed to have the same culture. In reality, culture is much more complicated than nationality. These early experiments did not control for other factors, such as socioeconomic status, education, ethnicity, and regional differences in culture. All of these factors could have a big effect on the individual’s response.


A third criticism of Bessett’s experiment is that the content itself should have been more abstract, such as a puzzle or an IQ test. With objective content, such as nature and animals, people from different countries of the world might have different pre-conceived ideas about these animals. Prior knowledge based on geographic location would further complicate the results. A test that is more abstract, or more quantitative, would provide a more controlled study of how cognitive processing works for different groups of people.


The research on culture’s effect on cognitive processing still goes on today, and while some criticisms exist of Bessett’s early studies, the projects still provide valuable insight. It is important for future research projects to control carefully for the variables, such as culture. Something like culture is complex and difficult to define. It can also be influenced by many other variables, such as geography or education styles. When studying a variable like culture, it is critical that the researcher create a clear definition for what is—and what is not—considered culture.


Another important aspect of modern research is the ethical impact of the research. A researcher must consider carefully whether the results of the research will negatively impact any of the groups involved. In an increasingly globalised job economy, generalisations made about nationalities can be harmful to prospective employees. This information could also impact the way tests and university admissions standards are designed, which would potentially favor one group or create a disadvantage for another. When conducting any research about culture and nationality, researchers should consider all possible effects, positive or negative, that their conclusions may have when published for the world to see.

READING PASSAGE 2 – Eco-Resort Management Practices

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 14-26, which are based or Reading Passage 2 below.

Eco-Resort Management Practices

Ecotourism is often regarded as a form of nature-based tourism and has become an important alternative source of tourists. In addition to providing the traditional resort-leisure product, it has been argued that ecotourism resort management should have a particular focus on best-practice environmental management. an educational and interpretive component, and direct anil indirect contributions to the conservation of the natural and cultural environment (Ayala. I996).

Conran Cove Island Resort is a large integrated ecotourism-based resort located south of Brisbane on the Gold Coast, Queensland. Australia. As the world’s population becomes increasingly urbanised, the demand for tourist attractions which are environmentally friendly, serene and offer amenities of a unique nature has grown rapidly. Couran Cove Resort, which is one such tourist attractions, is located on South Stradbroke Island, occupying approximately 150 hectares of the island. South Stradbroke Island is separated from die mainland by the Broadwater, a stretch of sea .’ kilometres wide. More than a century ago. there was only one Stradbroke Island, and there were at least four Aboriginal tribes living and limiting on the island. Regrettably, most of the original island dwellers were eventually killed by diseases such as tuberculosis, smallpox and influenza by the end of the 19th century. The second ship wrecked on the island in 1894, and the subsequent destruction of the ship (the Cambus Wallace) because it contained dynamite, caused a large crater in the sandhills on Stradbroke Island. Eventually. the ocean bloke through the weakened land form and Stradbroke became two islands. Conran Cove Island Resort is built on one of the world’s lew naturally -occurring sand lands, which is home to a wide range of plant communities and one of the largest remaining remnants of the rare livistona rainforest left on the Gold Coast. Many mangrove and rainforest areas, and Malaleuca Wetlands on South Stradbroke Island (and in Queensland), have been cleared, drained or filled for residential, industrial, agricultural or urban development in the first half of the 20th century. Farmers and graziers finally abandoned South Stradbroke Island in 1959 because the vegetation and the soil conditions there were not suitable for agricultural activities.


Being located on an offshore island, the resort is only accessible by means of water transport. The resort provides hourly ferry service from the marina on the mainland to and from the island. Within the resort. transport modes include walking trails, bicycle tracks and the beach train. The reception area is the counter of the shop which has not changed for 8 years at least. The accommodation is an octagonal “Bure’’. These are large rooms that are clean but the equipment is tiled and in some cases just working. Our ceiling fan only worked on high speed for example. Beds are hard but clean. There is a television, a radio, an old air conditioner and a small fridge. These “Bures” are right on top of each other and night noises do carry. so he careful what you say and do. The only tiling is the mosquitoes, but if you forget to bring mosquito repellant they sell some oil the island.

As an ecotourism-based resort most of the planning and development of the attraction lias been concentrated on the need lo co-exist with the fragile natural environment of South Stradbroke Island io achieve sustainable development.


South Stradbroke Island has groundwater at the centre of the island, which has a maximum height of 3 metres above sea level. The water supply is recharged by rainfall and is commonly known as an unconfined freshwater aquifer. Couran Cove Island Resort obtains its water supply by tapping into this aquifer and extracting it via a bore system. Some of the problems which have threatened the island’s freshwater supply include pollution, contamination and over-consumption. In order to minimise some of these problems, all laundry activities are carried out on the mainland. The resort considers washing machines as onerous to the island’s freshwater supply, and that the detergents contain a high level of phosphates which are a major source of water pollution. The resort uses LPG-power generation rather than a diesel-powered plant for its energy supply, supplemented by wind turbine, which has reduced greenhouse emissions by 70% of diesel-equivalent generation methods. Excess heat recovered from the generator is used to heat the swimming pool. Hot water in the eco-cabins and for some of the resort’s vehicles are solar-powered. Water efficient fittings are also installed in showers and toilets. However, not all the appliances used by the resort arc energy efficient, such as refrigera­tors. Visitors who stay at the resort are encouraged to monitor their water and energy usage via the in-house television systems, and are rewarded with prizes (such as a free return trip to the resort) accordingly if their usage level is low.


We examined a case study of good management practice and a pro-active sustainable tourism stance of an eco-resort. In three years of operation, Couran Cove Island Resort has won 23 international and national awards, including the 2001 Australian Tourism Award in the 4-Star Accommodation category. The resort has embraced and has effectively implemented contem­porary environmental management practices. It has been argued that the successful implemen­tation of the principles of sustainability should promote long-term social, economic and envi­ronmental benefits, while ensuring and enhancing the prospects of continued viability for the tourism enterprise. Couran Cove Island Resort does not conform to the characteristics of the Resort Development Spectrum, as proposed by Pridcaux (2000). According to Pridcaux. the resort should be at least at Phase 3 of the model (the National tourism phase), which describes an integrated resort providing 3-4 star hotel-type accommodation. The primary tourist market in Phase 3 of the model consists mainly of interstate visitors. However, the number of interstate and international tourists visiting the resort is small, with the principal visitor markets com­prising locals and residents front nearby towns and the Gold Coast region. The carrying capac­ity of Couran Cove docs not seem to be of any concern to the Resort management. Given that it is a private commercial ecotourist enterprise, regulating the number of visitors to the resort to minimise damage done to the natural environment on South Stradbrokc Island is not a binding constraint. However, the Resort’s growth will eventually be constrained by its carrying capac­ity, and quantity control should be incorporated in the management strategy of the resort.

READING PASSAGE 3 – The future of the World’s Language

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 27-40, which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.

The future of the World's Language

Of the world’s 6,500 living languages, around half are expected to the out by the end of this century, according to UNESCO. Just 11 are spoken by more than half of the earth’s population, so it is little wonder that those used by only a few are being left behind as we become a more homogenous, global society. In short, 95 percent of the world’s languages are spoken by only five percent of its population—a remarkable level of linguistic diversity stored in tiny pockets of speakers around the world. Mark Turin, a university professor, has launched WOLP (World Oral Language Project) to prevent the language from the brink of extinction.

He is trying to encourage indigenous communities to collaborate with anthropologists around the world to record what he calls “oral literature” through video cameras, voice recorders and other multimedia tools by awarding grants from a £30,000 pot that the project has secured this year. The idea is to collate this literature in a digital archive that can be accessed on demand and will make the nuts and bolts of lost cultures readily available.

For many of these communities, the oral tradition is at the heart of their culture. The stories they tell are creative as well as communicative. Unlike the languages with celebrated written traditions, such as Sanskrit, Hebrew and Ancient Greek, few indigenous communities have recorded their own languages or ever had them recorded until now.

The project suggested itself when Turin was teaching in Nepal. He wanted to study for a PhD in endangered languages and, while discussing it with his professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands, was drawn to a map on his tutor’s wall. The map was full of pins of a variety of colours which represented all the world’s languages that were completely undocumented. At random, Turin chose a “pin” to document. It happened to belong to the Thangmi tribe, an indigenous community in the hills east of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. “Many of the choices anthropologists and linguists who work on these traditional field-work projects are quite random,” he admits.

Continuing his work with the Thangmi community in the 1990s, Turin began to record the language he was hearing, realising that not only was this language and its culture entirely undocumented, it was known to few outside the tiny community. He set about trying to record their language and myth of origins. “I wrote 1,000 pages of grammar in English that nobody could use—but I realised that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough for me, it wasn’t enough for them. It simply wasn’t going to work as something for the community. So then I produced this trilingual word list in Thangmi, Nepali and English.”

In short, it was the first ever publication of that language. That small dictionary is still sold in local schools for a modest 20 rupees, and used as part of a wider cultural regeneration process to educate children about their heritage and language. The task is no small undertaking: Nepal itself is a country of massive ethnic and linguistic diversity, home to 100 languages from four different language families. What’s more, even fewer ethnic Thangmi speak the Thangmi language. Many of the community members have taken to speaking Nepali, the national language taught in schools and spread through the media, and community elders are dying without passing on their knowledge.

Despite Turin’s enthusiasm for his subject, he is baffled by many linguists’ refusal to engage in the issue he is working on. “Of the 6,500 languages spoken on Earth, many do not have written traditions and many of these spoken forms are endangered,” he says. “There are more linguists in universities around the world than there are spoken languages—but most of them aren’t working on this issue. To me it’s amazing that in this day and age, we still have an entirely incomplete image of the world’s linguistic diversity. People do PhDs on the apostrophe in French, yet we still don’t know how many languages are spoken.”

“When a language becomes endangered, so too does a cultural world view. We want to engage with indigenous people to document their myths and folklore, which can be harder to find funding for if you are based outside Western universities.”

Yet, despite the struggles facing initiatives such as the World Oral Literature Project, there are historical examples that point to the possibility that language restoration is no mere academic pipe dream. The revival of a modern form of Hebrew in the 19th century is often cited as one of the best proofs that languages long dead, belonging to small communities, can be resurrected and embraced by a large number of people. By the 20th century, Hebrew was well on its way to becoming the main language of the Jewish population of both Ottoman and British Palestine. It is now spoken by more than seven million people in Israel.

Yet, despite the difficulties these communities face in saving their languages, Dr Turin believes that the fate of the world’s endangered languages is not sealed, and globalisation is not necessarily the nefarious perpetrator of evil it is often presented to be. “I call it the globalisation paradox: on the one hand globalisation and rapid socio-economic change are the things that are eroding and challenging diversity But on the other, globalisation is providing us with new and very exciting tools and facilities to get to places to document those things that globalisation is eroding. Also, the communities at the coal-face of change are excited by what globalisation has to offer.”

In the meantime, the race is on to collect and protect as many of the languages as possible, so that the Rai Shaman in eastern Nepal and those in the generations that follow him can continue their traditions and have a sense of identity. And it certainly is a race: Turin knows his project’s limits and believes it inevitable that a large number of those languages will disappear. “We have to be wholly realistic. A project like ours is in no position, and was not designed, to keep languages alive. The only people who can help languages survive are the people in those communities themselves. They need to be reminded that it’s good to speak their own language and I think we can help them do that—becoming modem doesn’t mean you have to lose your language.”


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