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Class Supplement, TOEFL Essay, means of transportation for a place 100 miles away from your home


Writing Topic
Suppose that you wish to travel from your home to a place 100 miles (160 kilometers) from your home. Discuss the different types of transportation you might use, and compare the merits of the various forms of transport. Which manner of travel would you choose, and why?
Question that requires you to discuss possible choices under some conditions and choose one
This writing topic sets a specific condition and directs you to discuss the choices under the condition before writing about your choice. To answer this type of question your thought process can be the body and conclusion of your essay, because a thought process of finding the answer with regard to the conditions is logical.

Thought process
1. Discuss the conditions and narrow down the choices according to the conditions.
2. Discuss the choices that have been left.
3. Make a conclusion giving reasons.

Practice Question
A foreign visitor has only one day to spend in your country. Discuss the different possible destinations. Where do you think this visitor should go on that day? Why?

Like today’s writing topic, this question sets some conditions, requires you to discuss different choices under these conditions and asks about your choice, so let me write down some paragraphs following the thought process above.

1. Discuss the conditions, and narrow down the choices according to the conditions.
A foreign visitor might want to experience something special about the country. Also, he or she might want to see as many aspects of the country as possible, in the case of my country, Japan, probably both the old and new aspects of it. However, there is only one day to spend, so the person might not want to waste time for transit unless the transit itself serves as an experience like riding the bullet train. Considering these conditions, a beach in Okinawa or a ranch in Hokkaido would not be at the top of the list, for you can see the same things elsewhere and they might not be so memorable as places that represent Japan. Also, visiting places too far apart is out of question because of the travel time. Seeing contemporary Japan in Tokyo and then traditional Japan in Shikoku in a day is, while attractive, impossible because they are 500 miles apart.

2. Discuss the choices that have been left.
Visiting Shibuya, the center of Japanese pop-culture, and then Kyoto, the center of the traditional Japanese culture, is possible if you take the bullet train. But then, there are many other places with both old and new aspects of Japan such as Shinjuku, where you find high-rising buildings next to an old alley with a shrine and bars still maintaining the air of the 60’s, and all of these places might look the same in foreigners’ eye.

3. Make a conclusion giving reasons.
I think the visitor should visit Tsukishima, Tokyo. Although not famous, it has both the high-technology and the traditional life of Japan existing side by side with a great contrast. Juxtaposed to state-of-the-art buildings are good old residences, small factories, and eateries serving the local specialty, monja. Businessmen in black quickly pass an old lady pushing a cart slowly. This is an old business district near Tokyo Bay that has been experiencing a rapid development over the past ten years. …
Now let us go back to today’s topic and follow the thought process.
1. Discuss the condition and narrow down the choices according to the conditions.
♦If your house is near Tokyo Station, a place 100 miles from your house is in —– or —–.
【Places: Mito/Shizuoka/Nagano, etc.】
♦This destination is farther than —– and closer than —–.

【your school/usual commuting destinations/the place you go for a one-day excursion/your grandparents’ place where you usually go by car or train/annual five-day school trip destinations/etc.】

♦For a 100-mile trip, using/taking/riding —– would not be a good idea because it is —–.

♦ —– would also not be an ideal choice because it is —–.
【Transportations: an airplane/a bullet train/a train/a bus/a car/a motorbike/a bicycle/etc.】
【Reasons: expensive/time-consuming/troublesome/tiresome/slow/etc.】

2. Discuss the choices that have been left. Compare their merits.
♦I could ride/take —– because it is —–.
♦Taking/Riding —– would also be good because it is —–.


【Transportations: a bullet train/a train/a bus/a car/a motorbike/etc.】
【Reasons: fast/inexpensive/relaxing/flexible/enjoyable/environmentally-friendly/etc.】

3. Make a conclusion giving reasons.

Note! The question does not require that you reach an objective conclusion. It is asking about your choice. In other words, it is asking about your preference, so you could choose a car because, for example, you like driving.

I would choose …

because …


Note! Make sure you follow the standard form of an English essay, that is, you start your essay with the introduction (the paragraph providing the overview of your essay), then develop your thought in the body, and finish with the conclusion.

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