Practise your inference skills by answering the questions under each paragraph.

BBC Learning English
Words in the News
8 May, 2012

Sight Problems for Students in Asia

Section One

Scientists say there's been a massive rise in levels of short sightedness among school leavers in Asia. Researchers writing in the journal, The Lancet, say that almost 90% of young adults are suffering from myopia - they believe that a lack of outdoor light combined with working hard at school are the major factors behind the increase. The BBC's science reporter Matt McGrath reports:
  1. What kind of journal is The Lancet?

  2. What is myopia

    Possible answers Clues
    1 A scientific journal Researchers write in the journal. These researchers are scientists. Shortsightedness is a scientific topic.
    2 Shortsightedness It is something young adults suffer from. It is increasing =There has been a rise in levels of shortsightedness.

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Section Two

The strong emphasis on educational achievement in China, Japan and other parts of South East-Asia may be coming at a heavy price. Researchers say that hard work at school plus the lack of exposure to outdoor light is damaging the eyes of almost 9 out of 10 students - with 1 in 5 at serious risk of visual impairment and blindness.

The scientists say that young people need up to 3 hours a day of outdoor light - but many infants are also missing out as they nap during the middle of the day. Dr. Ian Morgan is the lead author of the study:
  1. What does nap mean?

  2. Possible answer Clues
    3 Sleep Infants are doing something in the middle of the day indoors and are not being exposed to light.

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Section Three

I think what's happened in South-East Asia is we've got a double whammy. We've got the massive educational pressures and we've got the construction of a child's day in a way that really minimises the amount of time they spend outside in bright light.
  1. What could the word whammy mean in the phrase double whammy?

  2. How might the construction of a child’s day minimise the amount of time they spend outside in bright light?

    Possible answers Clues
    4 Problem 1. Massive educational pressure
    2. Children spend a minimal amount of time outside in bright light
    5 They might sleep, study for exams, do homework, spend a lot of time in school, go to extra classes, etc. In some parts of South-East Asia there is a strong emphasis on educational achievement and working hard at school.

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Section Four

The scientists say that genetic factors, long thought to play a big role in short sightedness, are not as important as the environment. They point to Singapore as a place with several distinct ethnic groups, all of whom are now suffering high levels of myopia. The authors suggest that mandatory time outdoors should be considered by educational authorities across South-East Asia as a way of dealing with the problem
  1. What does the environment mean here?

  2. Explain the argument scientists give for believing that shortsightedness is a problem caused by the environment rather than genetic factors.

  3. What might mandatory time outdoors consist of?

    Possible answers Clues
    6 Places where people spend their time The environment refers to spending time indoors or outdoors in bright light.
    7 If genetic factors were involved in the occurrence of myopia, it is likely to be more common in certain ethnic groups. Myopia is common in Hong Kong, for example, among the Chinese, so people may argue that shortsightedness is genetic. However, it is also common across different ethnic groups in Singapore, which would suggest that lifestyle and the environment are more likely to be the causes. Singapore is a multi-ethnic society. As people tend to marry others from their own ethnic group, it is less likely that genes are passed on from one group to another.
    8 1. Students are not allowed to stay indoors during break times.
    2. Outdoor sports could become a compulsory item on a student’s timetable.
    3. Classes include at least one outdoor activity each semester.
    If something like this is made compulsory, the ideas should be practical, realistic, and sensible; otherwise, they will not be accepted.

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