PART ⅢREADING COMPREHENSION ［40 min］
SECTION A READING COMPREHENSION ［30min］
In this section there are four reading passages followed by a total of fifteen multiple-choice questions. Read the passages and then mark your answers on your COLOURED ANSWER SHEET.
Do you ever feel as though you spend all your time in meetings?
Henry Mintzberg, in his book The Nature of Managerial Work, found that in large organizations managers spent 22 per cent of their time at their desk, 6 per cent on the telephone, 3 per cent on other activities, but a whopping 69 per cent in meetings. There is a widely-held but mistaken belief that meetings are for "solving problems" and "making decisions". For a start, the number of people attending a meeting tends to be inversely proportional to their collective ability to reach conclusions and make decisions. And these are the least important elements. Instead hours are devoted to side issues, playing elaborate games with one another. It seems, therefore, that meetings serve some purpose other than just making decisions. All meetings have one thing in common: role-playing. The most formal role is that of chairman. He sets the agenda, and a good chairman will keep the meeting running on time and to the point. Sadly, the other, informal, role-players are often able to gain the upper hand. Chief is the "constant talker", who just loves to hear his or her own voice. Then there are the "can t do" types who want to maintain the status quo. Since they have often been in the organization for a long time, they frequently quote historical experience as an excuse to block change: "It won t work, we tried that last year and it was a disaster." A more subtle version of the "can't do" type, the "yes, but ……", has emerged recently. They have learnt about the need to sound positive, but they still can t bear to have things change. Another whole sub-set of characters are people who love meetings and want them to continue until 5∶30 pm or beyond. Irrelevant issues are their speciality. They need to call or attend meetings, either to avoid work, or to justify their lack of performance, or simply because they do not have enough to do. Then there are the "counter-dependents", those who usually disagree with everything that is said, particularly if it comes from the chairman or through consensus from the group. These people need to fight authority in whatever form. Meetings can also provide attenders with a sense of identification of their status and power. In this case, managers arrange meetings as a means of communicating to others the boundaries of their exclusive club: who is "in", and who is not. Because so many meetings end in confusion and without a decision, another game is played at the end of meetings, called reaching a false consensus. Since it is important for the chairman to appear successful in problem solving and making a decision, the group reaches a false consensus. Everyone is happy, having spent their time productively. The reality is that the decision is so ambiguous that it is never acted upon, or, if it is, there is continuing conflict, for which another meeting is necessary. In the end, meetings provide the opportunity for social intercourse, to engage in battle in front of our bosses, to avoid unpleasant or unsatisfying work to highlight our social status and identity. They are, in fact, a necessary though not necessarily productive psychological sideshow. Perhaps it is our civilized way to moderating, if not preventing, change.
16. On role-playing, the passage seems to indicate that chairman ______.
〔A〕talks as much as participants
〔B〕is usually a "constant talker"
〔C〕prefers to take the role of an observer
〔D〕is frequently outshone by participants
17. Which of the following is NOT a distinct characteristic of the three types of participants?
〔D〕Lack of focus.
18. The passage suggests that a false consensus was reached at the end of a meeting in order to ______.
〔A〕make room for another meeting
〔B〕bring an illusory sense of achievement
〔C〕highlight the importance of a meeting
〔D〕go ahead with the agreed programme
Cooperative competition. Competitive cooperation. Confused? Airline alliances have travellers scratching their heads over what s going on in the skies. Some folks view alliances as a blessing to travellers, offering seamless travel, reduced fares and enhanced frequent-flyer benefits. Others see a conspiracy of big businesses, causing decreased competition, increased fares and fewer choices. Whatever your opinion, there's no escaping airline alliances: the marketing hype is unrelenting, with each of the two mega-groupings, Oneworld and Star Alliance, promoting itself as the best choice for all travellers. And, even if you turn away from their ads, chances are they will figure in any of your travel plans. By the end of the year, Oneworld and Star Alliance will between them control more than 40% of the traffic in the sky. Some pundits predict that figure will be more like 75% in 10 years.
But why, after years of often ferocious competition, have airlines decided to band together? Let's just say the timing is mutually convenient. North American airlines, having exhausted all means of earning customer loyalty at home, have been looking for ways to reach out to foreign flyers. Asian carriers are still hurting from the region-wide economic downturn that began two years ago-just when some of the airlines were taking delivery of new aircraft. Alliances also allow carriers to cut costs and increase profits by pooling manpower resources on the ground （rather than each airline maintaining its own ground crew）and code-sharing-the practice of two partners selling tickets and operating only one aircraft.
So alliances are terrific for airlines-but are they good for the passenger? Absolutely, say the airlines: think of the lounges, the joint FFP（frequent flyer programme）benefits, the round-the-world fares, and the global service networks. Then there's the promise of "seamless" travel: the ability to, say, travel from Singapore to Rome to New York to Rio de Janeiro, all on one ticket, without having to wait hours for connections or worry about your bags. Sounds utopian? Peter Buecking, Cathay Pacific's director of sales and marketing, thinks that seamless travel is still evolving. "It's fair to say that these links are only in their infancy. The key to seamlessness rests in infrastructure and information sharing. We're working on this." Henry Ma, spokesperson for Star Alliance in Hong Kong, lists some of the other benefits for consumers: "Global travellers have an easier time making connections and planning their itineraries." Ma claims alliances also assure passengers consistent service standards.
Critics of alliances say the much-touted benefits to the consumer are mostly pie in the sky, that alliances are all about reducing costs for the airlines, rationalizing services and running joint marketing programmes. Jeff Blyskal, associate editor of Consumer Reports magazine, says the promotional ballyhoo over alliances is much ado about nothing. "I don't see much of a gain for consumers: alliances are just a marketing gimmick. And as far as seamless travel goes, I'll believe it when I see it. Most airlines can't even get their own connections under control, let alone coordinate with another airline."
Blyskal believes alliances will ultimately result in decreased flight choices and increased costs for consumers. Instead of two airlines competing and each operating a flight on the same route at 70% capacity, the allied pair will share the route and run one full flight. Since fewer seats will be available, passengers will be obliged to pay more for tickets.
The truth about alliances and their merits probably lies somewhere between the travel utopia presented by the players and the evil empires portrayed by their critics. And how much they affect you depends on what kind of traveller you are.
Those who've already made the elite grade in the FFP of a major airline stand to benefit the most when it joins an alliance: then they enjoy the FFP perks and advantages on any and all of the member carriers. For example, if you re a Marco Polo Club "gold" member of Cathay Pacific s Asia Miles FFP, you will automatically be treated as a valuable customer by all members of Oneworld, of which Cathay Pacific is a member-even if you've never flown with them before.
For those who haven t made the top grade in any FFP, alliances might be a way of simplifying the earning of frequent flyer miles. For example, I belong to United Airline s Mileage Plus and generally fly less than 25, 000 miles a year. But I earn miles with every flight I take on Star Alliance member-All Nippon Airways and Thai Airways.
If you fly less than I do, you might be smarter to stay out of the FFP game altogether. Hunt for bargains when booking flights and you might be able to save enough to take that extra trip anyway. The only real benefit infrequent flyers can draw from an alliance is an inexpensive round-the-world fare.
The bottom line: for all the marketing hype, alliances aren't all things to all people-but everybody can get some benefit out of them.
19. Which is the best word to describe air travellers reaction to airline alliances?
20. According to the passage, setting up airline alliances will chiefly benefit ______.
〔A〕North American airlines and their domestic travellers
〔B〕North American airlines and their foreign counterparts
〔C〕Asian airlines and their foreign travellers
〔D〕Asian airlines and their domestic travellers
21. Which of the following is NOT a perceived advantage of alliances?
22. One disadvantage of alliances foreseen by the critics is that air travel may be more expensive as a result of ______.
〔B〕higher operation costs
〔D〕more joint marketing
23. According to the passage, which of the following categories of travellers will gain most from airline alliances?
〔A〕Travellers who fly frequently economy class.
〔B〕Travellers who fly frequently business class.
〔C〕Travellers who fly occasionally during holidays.
〔D〕Travellers who fly economy class once in a while.
It is nothing new that English use is on the rise around the world, especially in business circles. This also happens in France, the headquarters of the global battle against American cultural hegemony. If French guys are giving in to English, something really big must be going on. And something big is going on.
Partly, it s that American hegemony. Didier Benchimol, CEO of a French e-commerce software company, feels compelled to speak English perfectly because the Internet software business is dominated by Americans. He and other French businessmen also have to speak English because they want to get their message out to American investors, possessors of the world s deepest pockets.
The triumph of English in France and elsewhere in Europe, however, may rest on something more enduring. As they become entwined with each other politically and economically, Europeans need a way to talk to one another and to the rest of the world. And for a number of reasons, they've decided upon English as their common tongue.
So when German chemical and pharmaceutical company Hoechst merged with French competitor Rhone-Poulenc last year, the companies chose the vaguely Latinate Aventis as the new company name- and settled on English as the company's common language. When monetary policymakers from around Europe began meeting at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt last year to set interest rates for the new Euroland, they held their deliberations in English. Even the European Commission, with 11 official languages and traditionally French-speaking bureaucracy, effectively switched over to English as its working language last year.
How did this happen? One school attributes English s great success to the sheer weight of its merit. It s a Germanic language, brought to Britain around the fifth century A.D. During the four centuries of French-speaking rule that followed Norman Conquest of 1066, the language morphed into something else entirely. French words were added wholesale, and most of the complications of Germanic grammar were shed while few of the complications of French were added. The result is a language with a huge vocabulary and a simple grammar that can express most things more efficiently than either of its parents. What's more, English has remained ungoverned and open to change-foreign words, coinages, and grammatical shifts-in a way that French, ruled by the purist Academic Francaise, had not.
So it's a swell language, especially for business. But the rise of English over the past few centuries clearly owes at least as much to history and economics as to the language's ability to economically express the concept win-win. What happened is that the competition-first Latin, then French, then, briefly, German-faded with the waning of the political, economic, and military fortunes of, respectively, the Catholic Church, France, and Germany. All along, English was increasing in importance: Britain was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, and London the world's most important financial centre, which made English a key language for business. England s colonies around the world also made it the language with the most global reach. And as that former colony the U.S. rose to the status of the world's preeminent political economic, military, and cultural power, English became the obvious second language to learn.
In the 1990s more and more Europeans found themselves forced to use English. The last generation of business and government leaders who hadn't studied English in school was leaving the stage. The European Community was adding new members and evolving from a paper-shuffling club into a serious regional government that would need a single common language if it were ever to get anything done. Meanwhile, economic barriers between European nations have been disappearing, meaning that more and more companies are beginning to look at the whole continent as their domestic market. And then the Internet came along.
The Net had two big impacts. One was that it was an exciting, potentially lucrative new industry that had its roots in the U.S., so if you wanted to get in on it, you had to speak some English. The other was that by surfing the Web, Europeans who had previously encountered English only in school and in pop songs were now coming into contact with it daily.
None of this means English has taken over European life. According to the European Union, 47% of Western Europeans （including the British and Irish）speak English well enough to carry on a conversation. That's a lot more than those who can speak German （32%）or French （28%）, but it still means more Europeans don't speak the language. If you want to sell shampoo or cell phones, you have to do it in French or German or Spanish or Greek. Even the U.S. and British media companies that stand to benefit most from the spread of English have been hedging their bets-CNN broadcasts in Spanish; the Financial Times has recently launched a daily German-language edition.
But just look at who speaks English: 77% of Western European college students, 69% of managers, and 65% of those aged 15 to 24. In the secondary schools of the European Union's non-English-speaking countries, 91% of students study English, all of which means that the transition to English as the language of European business hasn't been all that traumatic, and it s only going to get easier in the future.
24. In the author s opinion, what really underlies the rising status of English in France and Europe is ______.
〔A〕American dominance in the Internet software business
〔B〕a practical need for effective communication among Europeans
〔C〕Europeans eagerness to do business with American businessmen
〔D〕the recent trend for foreign companies to merge with each other
25. Europeans began to favour English for all the following reasons EXCEPT its ______.
〔A〕inherent linguistic properties
〔B〕association with the business world
〔C〕links with the United States
〔D〕disassociation from political changes
26. Which of the following statements forecasts the continuous rise of English in the future?
〔A〕About half of Western Europeans are now proficient in English.
〔B〕U.S. and British media companies are operating in Western Europe.
〔C〕Most secondary school students in Europe study English.
〔D〕Most Europeans continue to use their own language.
27. The passage mainly examines the factors related to ______.
〔A〕the rising status of English in Europe
〔B〕English learning in non-English-speaking E.U. nations
〔C〕the preference for English by European businessmen
〔D〕the switch from French to English in the European Commission
As humankind moves into the third millennium, it can rightfully claim to have broken new ground in its age-old quest to master the environment. The fantastic achievements of modern technology and the speed at which scientific discoveries are translated into technological applications attest to the triumph of human endeavour.
At the same time, however, some of these applications threaten to unleash forces over which we have no control. In other words, the new technology Man now believes allows him to dominate this wider cosmos could well be a Frankenstein monster waiting to turn on its master.
This is an entirely new situation that promises to change many of the perceptions governing life on the planet. The most acute challenges facing the future are likely to be not only those pitting man against his fellow man, but those involving humankind's struggle to preserve the environment and ensure the sustainability of life on earth.
A conflict waged to ensure the survival of the human species is bound to bring humans closer together. Technological progress has thus proved to be a double-edged sword, giving rise to a new form of conflict: a clash between Man and Nature.
The new conflict is more dangerous than the traditional one between man and his fellow man, where the protagonists at least shared a common language. But when it comes to the reactions of the ecosystems to the onslaught of modern technology, there is no common language.
Nature reacts with weather disturbances, with storms and earthquakes, with mutant viruses and bacteria-that is, with phenomena having no apparent cause and effect relationship with the modern technology that supposedly triggers them.
As technology becomes ever more potent and Nature reacts ever more violently, there is an urgent need to rethink how best to deal with the growing contradictions between Man and Nature.
For a start, the planet, and hence all its inhabitants, must be perceived as an integral whole, not as a dichotomous mass divided geographically into the rich and developed and the poor and underdeveloped.
Today, globalization encompasses the whole world and deals with it as an integral unit. It is no longer possible to say that conflict has shifted from its traditional east-west axis to a north-south axis. The real divide today is between summit and base, between the higher echelons of the international political structure and its grassroots level, between government and NGOs, between state and civil society, between public and private enterprise.
The mesh structure is particularly obvious on the Internet. While it is true that to date the Internet seems to be favouring the most developed sectors of the international community over the less developed, this need not always be the case. Indeed, it could eventually overcome the disparities between the privileged and the underdeveloped.
On the other hand, the macro-world in which we live is exposed to distortions because of the unpredictable side-effects of a micro-world we do not and cannot totally control.
This raises the need for a global system of checks and balances, for mandatory rules and constraints in our dealings with Nature, in short, for a new type of veto designed to manage what is increasingly becoming a main contradiction of our time: the one between technology and ecology.
A new type of international machinery must be set in place to cope with the new challenges. We need a new look at the harnessing of scientific discoveries, to maximize their positive effects for the promotion of humanity as a whole and to minimize their negative effects. We need an authority with veto powers to forbid practices conducive to decreasing the ozone hole, the propagation of AIDS, global warming, desertification-an authority that will tackle such global problems.
There should be no discontinuity in the global machinery responsible for world order. The UN in its present form may fall far short of what is required of it, and it may be undemocratic and detrimental to most citizens in the world, but its absence would be worse. And so we have to hold on to the international organization even as we push forward for its complete restructuring.
Our best hope would be that the functions of the present United Nations are gradually taken over by the new machinery of veto power representing genuine democratic globalization.
28. The mention of Man s victory over Nature at the beginning of the passage is to highlight ______.
〔A〕a new form of conflict
〔B〕Man s creative powers
〔C〕the role of modern technology
〔D〕Man s ground-breaking work
29. According to the passage, which is NOT a responsibility of the proposed international authority?
〔A〕Monitoring effects of scientific discoveries.
〔B〕Dealing with worldwide environmental issues.
〔C〕Vetoing human attempts to conquer Nature.
〔D〕Authorizing efforts to improve human health.
30. When commenting on the present role of the UN, the author expresses his ______.
SECTION B SKIMMING & SCANNING ［10 min］
In this section there are seven passages with ten multiple-choice questions. Skim or scan them as required and then mark your answers on your COLOURED ANSWER SHEET.
First read the following question.
31. What is the most appropriate topic of the following passage?
Now go through TEXT E quickly and answer the question.
In addition to the national social security system, 17 special pension schemes are among the social advantages that government employees are not prepared to give up.
Under the national scheme, retirement is at the age of 65, whereas the special schemes offer retirement at 55 or even 50.
Most of the pension schemes are in the red and have to be topped up by the state. The total state contribution in 1994 was F125 billion （$ 25 billion）.
The prime minister says he wants to keep the special schemes. There are three solutions for keeping them afloat: lengthening the contribution period, increasing contributions, or reducing the pensions paid out. The government chose the first solution in the plan that it announced on November 15. Private sector employees were required in 1993 to contribute for 40 instead of 37.5 years, in order to qualify for a full pension. State employees could still retire after 37.5 years service provided they had reached the age limit.
The prime minister's announcement touched off strikes on the railways, Paris's transport services and government departments. Facing increasing opposition to this proposal, the prime minister said on December 5 that working more years would no longer be a condition for reforming the special pension schemes.
A government commission that will examine pensions will, however, be free to propose changes in the retirement age in certain professions. But it will take into consideration the hardships involved in the work and the constraints of working hours.
At the moment, the minimum retirement age is 60-as in the private sector before 1983-for 65 percent of public service employees. It is 55, or even 50, for 35 per cent of employees considered to be doing work "involving special risks or exceptional fatigue".
Primary school teachers can retire at 55, but the limit for new, better qualified recruits is 60. Postal workers at sorting offices can retire at 55. The retiring age for police officers is 50, prison officers 50, nurses 55, and railwaymen 50 and 55 for others. The 30, 000 employees of the Paris Metro have an average retirement age of 53.
Two-thirds of the "active" employees and those working in conditions that can damage health in the public gas and electric utility retire at 55. Retirement age for notary s clerks is 55 for women, and 60 for men. For miners, retirement is at 55.
Comparing the national pension scheme and the special schemes is not easy, because state employees receive bonuses-some of them substantial-which are not included in calculating their contributions or their pensions.
First read the following question.
32. In the following passage the author intends to ______.
〔A〕explain how the Gulf Stream is formed
〔B〕compare global warming with global cooling
〔C〕explain the composition of the sea currents
〔D〕deliver a warning of a coming ice age
Now go through TEXT F quickly and answer the question.
It seems obvious that trapping more of the sun's heat will make the planet hotter. But what seems obvious isn't always true. According to some respected scientists, there is a chance that global warming could plunge us into, of all things, an ice age.
The argument hinges on the Gulf Stream, the ocean current that brings warm surface water north and east and heats Europe. As it travels, some of the water evaporates; what's left is saltier and thus denser. Eventually the dense surface water sinks to the sea bottom, where it flows back southward. And then, near the equator, warm, fresh water from tropical rivers and rain dilutes the salt once again, allowing the water to rise to the surface, warm up and begin flowing north again.
But with global warming, melting ice from Greenland and the Arctic Ocean could pump fresh water into the North Atlantic; so could the increased rainfall be predicted for northern latitudes in a warmer world. Result: the Gulf Stream's water wouldn't get saltier after all and wouldn't sink so easily. Without adequate re-supply, the southerly underwater current would stop, and the Gulf Stream would in turn be shut off.
If that happens, Europe will get very cold. Rome is, after all, at the same latitude as Chicago, and Paris is about as far north as North Dakota. More snow will fall, and the bright snow cover will reflect more of the sun's energy back into space, making life even chillier. Beyond that, the Gulf Stream is tied into other ocean currents, and shutting it down could rearrange things in a way that would cause less overall evaporation.
Worst of all, the experts believe, such changes could come on with astonishing speed-perhaps within a decade or less. And while we might have a great deal of trouble adjusting to a climate that gets 2℃warmer over the next century, an ice age by mid-century would be unimaginably devastating. The lingering uncertainty about whether our relentless production of greenhouse gases will keep heating our planet or ultimately cool it suggests that we should make a better effort to leave the earth's thermostat alone.