July 29, 2014 10:41 UTC

Blogs / Confessions of an English Learner

Writing Prompt: Reasonable, Practical or Fair?

Electrician Ryan Merchant, a diabetic, finds a medical tattoo to be more practical, and safer, than the metal alert bracelet he used to wear. (VOA/A. Greenbaum)

Recently we heard three office workers (a man and two women) talking as they walked on the street in Washington. The conversation was spirited. It sounded like they were discussing a work-related issue. One said "it" -- whatever "it" was -- needed to be "reasonable." Another said it needed to be "practical." The third said it needed to be "fair." Perhaps they were talking about a requirement or a plan.

Surely the best thing is for something to be reasonable and practical and fair. But what if you could only choose one quality? What if something had to be reasonable or practical or fair? In your opinion, which is most important, or does it depend on the situation? Choose a specific example to support your arguments.

This is our writing prompt this week, to give you a chance to practice your writing, and to give other learners a chance to comment on your writing.

TOEFL Challenge: Try Answering This Essay Question

A TOEFL prep class in Boston

Since many of you are likely to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), we thought it might be helpful to use a sample question as our writing prompt this week.

Read the question below. You would normally have 30 minutes to plan, write and revise your essay if you were taking the TOEFL. According to the Educational Testing Service, an "effective response" will contain at least 300 words.

Question: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

A teacher’s ability to relate well with students is more important than excellent knowledge of the subject being taught.

Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

Interesting or Unusual People

A taxi in New York City

Here is our first writing prompt. Describe somebody you recently met who was interesting or unusual. Be descriptive. Use details to help us appreciate and picture what was special or memorable about this person.

For instance, yesterday we took a Washington taxi and were surprised to discover that the driver was 94. He told us he has been driving a cab since 1949. He previously had other jobs, including working in the window dressing business and in the Army mapping office. He also ran a tour business. "I feel good!" he said quite proudly of his health. But he became upset talking about politics -- not national politics, but the politics of the taxi industry in the nation's capital.

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