English as a Second Language

IGCSE English as a Second Language - Cambridge Syllabus

Passage 1 - Evils of Fur Trade


Read the following passage about the evils of fur trade and answer the questions that follow. [Total 13 marks]

Ten million animals are trapped for their fur each year. The United States, Canada, and Russia produce most of the world’s wild fur. Every time an animal is trapped for its fur, approximately two "non-target" animals are also caught. These non-target animals include squirrels, opossums, dogs, cats and even endangered species and birds of prey that are attracted to the food around the snares or inside the cages.

The steel jaw leg-hold trap is the most common kind of trap used by fur trappers, followed by the wire snare and the Conibear body-gripping trap which crushes the animal.

Eighty-eight countries and five US states have banned the leg-hold trap because it is so cruel and because it simply traps any animal that steps into it. However, the US Congress has not yet banned this device, despite surveys showing that 74% of Americans oppose it.

Animals are left in these traps for between one and three days, and sometimes longer. The animals often die from starvation, hypothermia, dehydration or an attack by another animal. Otherwise, the trapper shoots them, stomps them or clubs them.

Many animals chew off their own limbs in a desperate attempt at escape. This is especially common in raccoons. A 1980 study found that as many as one out of every four raccoons caught in a leg hold trap would chew its foot off to escape. Some companies manufacture padded leg hold traps to make them seem less cruel. Animals caught in padded traps are still exposed to the weather and predators until the trapper returns to kill them. Research has shown that padded traps cause injury to 97% of the coyotes that they ensnare. Many animals knock out their teeth as they bite at the jaws of the traps.

There are 150,000 trappers in the United States. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan are the main trapping states.

1. How many animals are trapped for their fur every year? [1] 

2. Name three countries where fur trapping is done. [3]

3. What is a "non-target" animal? [1]

4. How do "non-target" animals get trapped? [1]

5. Is the leg-hold trap banned in the USA? [1]

6. State three ways how trappers kill the animals they trap. [3]

7. How do some animals escape from leg-hold traps? [1]

8. State two reasons why padded leg-hold traps are also cruel. [2]


Passage 2 - Aspects of Paris


Read the following passage about the different aspects of Paris and answer the questions that follow. [Total 14 marks]


Paris stimulates the senses, demanding to be seen, heard, touched, tasted and smelt. From romance along the Seine to landscapes on bus-sized canvases to the pick-an-ism types in cafes monologuing on the use of garlic or the finer points of jerry Lewis, Paris is the essence of all things French.


Gaze rapturously at its breezy boulevards, impressive monuments, great works of art and magic lights. Savour its gourmet selection of cheese, chocolate, wine and seafood. Feel the wind in your face as you rollerblade through Bastille, or a frisson of fear and pleasure atop the Eiffel Tower.


When to go

As the old song says, Paris is at its best in springtime, even if it is sometimes a little wet. In winter Paris has all sorts of cultural events going on, while in summer the weather is warm and lazy – sometimes sizzling. In August, when Parisians flee for the beaches to the west and south, many restaurateurs lock up and leave town too, but this is changing rapidly and you’ll find considerably more places in summer than even a decade ago. Things can be a bit hectic around Bastille Day and towards the end of the year so reservations at this time are a good idea.


Weather overview

The Paris Basin lies midway between Brittany and Alsace, and is affected by the climates of both. The Ile de France region records the nation’s lowest annual precipitation, but rainfall patterns are erratic; you’re just as likely to be caught in a heavy spring shower or an autumn downpour as in a sudden summer cloudburst. Paris’ average yearly temperature is 12ºC (54ºF) (3ºC/37ºF in January, 19ºC/66ºF in July), but the mercury sometimes drops below zero in winter and can climb to the mid-30s (high-80s/low-90s Fahrenheit) or higher in the middle of summer.


Disabled Travellers

Paris is not particularly well equipped for les handicapes (disabled people): kerb ramps are few and far between, older public facilities and bottom-end hotels usually lack lifts, and the metro, most of it built decades ago, is inaccessible for those in a wheelchair (fautevil roulant). But disabled people who would like to visit Paris can overcome those problems. Most hotels with two or more stars are equipped with lifts, and Michelin’s Guide Rouge indicates hotels with lifts and facilities for disabled people. For details of sites that provide facilities for the handicapped, go to www.parisinfo.com


1. Name any four senses that Paris stimulates?[1]

2. What are the attractions of Paris?[1]

3. What is the speciality of Paris in winter?[1]

4. How is the weather of Paris in summer?[1]

5. When do many restaurateurs lock up their restaurant and leave town?[1]

6. At what time do you think ‘reservation’ a good idea? [1]

7. Where does Paris basin lie? [1]

8. What region records the nation’s lowest annual precipitation? [1]

9. What is the average yearly temperature of Paris in July? [1]

10. What is the maximum temperature in the middle of summer? [1]

11. When does the mercury drop below zero? [1]

12. State one reason why Paris is not suitable for disabled people? [1]

13. From where, can the disabled get the information of their particular hotel booking? 14. Name the site which provides facilities for the handicapped? [1]

Passage 3 - Amazon rainforests


Read the following article about the Amazon rainforests and answer the questions that follow - 11 marks

The Amazon is the world's largest tropical rainforest. It covers an area of nearly 2.8 million square miles, which is nearly the size of the continent of Australia. The Amazon Rainforest gets its life from the majestic Amazon River, the world's second largest river, which runs directly through the heart of the region. The rainforest itself is simply the drainage basin for the river and its many tributaries. The vast forest itself consists of four layers, each featuring its own ecosystems and specially adapted plants and animals.

The forest floor is the lowest region. Since only two percent of the sunlight filters through the top layers to the understory, very few plants grow here. The forest floor, however, is rich with rotting vegetation and the bodies of dead organisms, which are quickly broken down into nutrients integrated into the soil. Tree roots stay close to these available nutrients and decomposers such as millipedes and earthworms use these nutrients for food.

The understory is the layer above the forest floor. Much like the forest floor, only about 2- 5 percent of the sunlight reaches this shadowy realm. Many of the plants in the understory have large, broad leaves to collect as much sunlight as possible. The understory is so thick that there is very little air movement. As a result, plants rely on insects and animals to pollinate their flowers.

The layer above the understory is the canopy. This is where much of the action in the rainforest occurs. Many canopy leaves have specially adapted leaves which form "drip tips". Drip tips allow water to flow off the leaves which prevents mosses, fungi, and lichens from occupying the leaves. Leaves in the canopy are very dense and filter about 80 percent of the sunlight. The canopy is where the wealth of the rainforest's fruits and flowers grow. Bromeliads, cup-like plants, provide drinking pools for animals and breeding locations for tree frogs.

The emergent layer is above the canopy, and is the top layer of the rainforest. Trees in the emergent layer break through the canopy and may reach heights of 200 feet. Leaves in the emergent layer are small and covered with a special wax to hold water. Seeds are blown to other parts of the forest. Trees which rise to the emergent layer are massive. Many are braced by huge buttress roots. Trunks can be 16 feet in circumference. Many animals that survive in the emergent layer never touch the ground.

1. How much area does the Amazon rainforest cover? 

2. Name two organisms apart from tree roots which use the nutrients on the forest floor. [1]

3. In which layer do fruits and flowers of the rainforest grow? [1]

4. What allows many plants in the understory to collect as much sunlight as possible?[1]

5. What provides drinking pools for tree frogs? [1]

6. Give two ways by which leaves in the emergent layer hold water. [1]

7. What is unique about the animals that live in the emergent layer? [1]

8. What are the four layers of the Amazon rainforest? [4] 


Passage 4 - Levi Strauss Jeans


Read the following article about the famous Levi Strauss jeans and answer the questions below. [Total 10 marks - Core paper]

Levi Strauss was born in Bavaria, Germany to Hirsch Strauss and his wife Rebecca Strauss. His parents named him Lob, but when he entered Ellis Island they couldn’t understand his name, therefore, they changed it to Levi after he came to the United States.

At the age of 18, Strauss sailed for the United States to join his brothers Jonas, Daniel and Louis, who had begun a dry goods business in New York City. His mother and two sisters came with him. By 1950, Strauss was already calling himself Levi.

In 1853, Strauss became an American citizen. He moved to San Francisco. Strauss opened his dry goods wholesale business as Levi Strauss & Co. he often led his pack-horse, heavily laden with merchandise, to the mining camps in the Gold Rush country.

He learned that the prospectors and miners complained about their cotton trousers and pockets tearing too easily. A tailor named Jacob Davis decided to make rugged overalls to sell to the miners. Fashioned from brown sailcloth made from hemp, his trousers had ore storage pockets that were nearly impossible to split. Davis wanted to register a patent, but lacked the money. Strauss agreed to help him and they went into partnership.

On 20th May 1873, Strauss and Davis received United States patent3139121 for using copper rivets to strengthen the pockets of denim work pants. Levi Strauss & Co. began manufacturing the famous Levi’s brand of jeans, using fabric from the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in Manchester.

Strauss died in 1902 at the age of 73. Levi’s fortune was estimated to be around 6 million dollars. He was buried in California. Strauss had never married and left his thriving business to his nephews Jacob, Louis, Abraham and Sigmund. They rebuild the company after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Adapted from: www.levistrauss.com

1. Where was Levi born?

2. Why did his parents change his name?

3. What did Strauss call his dry goods business?

4. What did the prospectors complain about?

5. Who was Jacob Davis?

6. Why was Davis unable to register a patent?

7. Where did Levi Strauss & Co get the fabric for their new jeans?

8. When Levi died, what did he leave behind?

9. Who did Levi leave his business to?

10. What happened to Levi Strauss & Co in 1906?


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