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I'll tell you this, but you have to promise that it will get no further. Not long after we moved here we had the people next door round for dinner and - I swear this is true - they drove.
I was astounded (I recall asking them jokingly if they used a light aircraft to get to the supermarket, which simply drew blank looks and the mental scratching of my name from all 5 future invitation lists), but I have since come to realize that there was nothing especially odd in their driving less than a couple of hundred feet to visit us. Nobody walks anywhere in America nowadays.
A researcher at the University of California at Berkeley recently made a study of the nation's walking habits and concluded that 85 per cent of people in the United States are 10 "essentially" sedentary and 35 per cent are "totally" sedentary. The average American walks less than 75 miles a year - about 1.4 miles a week, barely 350 yards a day. I'm no stranger to sloth1 myself, but that's appallingly little. [...]
One of the things we wanted when we moved to America was to live in a town within walking distance of shops. Hanover, where we settled, is a small, typical New England 15 college town, pleasant, sedate and compact. It has a broad green, an old-fashioned Main Street, nice college buildings with big lawns, and leafy residential streets. It is, in short, an agreeable, easy place to stroll2. Nearly everyone in town is within a five-minute walk of the shops, and yet as far as I can tell virtually no one does.
I walk to town nearly every day when I am at home. I go to the post office or library or the 20 local bookshop, and sometimes, if I am feeling particularly debonair, I stop at Rosey Jekes Café for a cappuccino. Every few weeks or so I call in at the barbershop and let one of the guys there do something with my hair. All this is a big part of my life and I wouldn't dream of doing it other than on foot. People have got used to this curious and eccentric behaviour now, but several times in the early days passing neighbours would slow by the kerb and ask if I 25 wanted a lift.
`But I'm going your way," they would insist when I politely declined. "Really, it's no bother."
"Honestly, I enjoy walking."
Bill Bryson, Notes from a Big Country, 1998. 30
1 sloth: not much energy 2 stroll: walk slowly
NOTE AUX CANDIDATS Les candidats traiteront les exercices sur la copie qui leur sera fournie et veilleront - à respecter l'ordre des questions et reporter la numérotation sur la copie (numéro de l'exercice et, le cas échéant, la lettre repère ; ex. : 1 a, l b, etc.) ; - à faire précéder les citations éventuellement demandées du numéro de ligne dans le texte.
I - GENERAL COMPREHENSION
A- Write down the correct answer.
1- The author is describing life in a- England. b- the United States. c- Italy.
2- The text is about a- contemporary society. b- the making of the country. c- future developments.
3- Choose the best title: a- Here, everyone drives. b- Here, everyone walks. c- Here, everyone shops.
B- Complete the following summary with words taken from the text. (one blank = one word)
When the narrator invited his neighbours for (1)………………………. they (2) ………………………. to his
house. He then realised that most Americans are (3)……………………….. He only (4: two words)
………………………. the region a few years ago and still goes everywhere (5: two words) ……………………….
II - DETAILED COMPREHENSION
A- Right or Wrong? Answer and justify by quoting the text.
1- A survey was done to determine how often Americans walk.
2- The narrator lives in a big city.
3- It's impossible to go to the shops there without a car.
4- Neighbours used to offer the narrator car-rides.
B- Pick out sentences showing that:
1- the narrator was surprised at his neighbours' behaviour.
2- the narrator is occasionally lazy.
3- there is a university in Hanover.
4- local people are no longer surprised at the narrator's habits.
C- Who or what do the underlined pronouns refer to?
1- line 4 "...if they used a light aircraft..."
2- line 14 ". . . we moved..."
3- line 16 "It has a broad [. .. ] Main Street"
4- line 27 "...they would insist..."
5- line 29 "...I enjoy walking"
D- Find synonyms in the text for the following words or expressions.
6- this is not a problem
III - EXPRESSION :
Choose one of the following subjects.
l. Do you enjoy outdoor activities? Why, why not? Justify your opinion with examples. (150 words).
2. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of having a car. (150 words).