Idea of progress – Oral du Bac d’anglais

L’idée de progrès ou « The idea of progress » est une notion centrale à connaître pour l’oral du BAC d’anglais.

 

Définition de la notion « idea of progress »

The notion of progress usually evokes a movement forward. We imagine progress as a positive change that will be better than the past and develop new technologies, sciences and social structures that will improve our society.

However, sometimes progress can have a negative connotation. First of all, some progress tends to be frowned upon by some members of society who enjoyed the status quo. Others consider that progress does not only bring positive elements to society but can contribute to deteriorating the wellbeing of society.

A retenir : The idea of progress est une notion complexe qui décrit un mouvement vers l’avant qui permet à une civilisation / technologie de se développer.

 

A savoir sur la notion « idea of progress »

Deux formes distinct pour « idea of progress »

There are several kinds of progress that need to be addressed.

  1. The first is scientific. You can mention life expectancy (= l’espérance de vie) that is higher than it has ever been thanks to the progress of medicine. You can also mention scientific progress that is aiming at slowing down climate change, such as electric cars.
  2. Social progress is also something worth discussing. The quality of life is dramatically better today than it was a few hundreds years ago. Health insurance, paid holidays, maternity leave (= congé maternité) are a few examples of what has been socially achieved.

A retenir : The idea of progress peut concerner le domaine scientifique (les nouvelles technologies et le domaine social (la qualité de vie).

 

The idea of progress : une notion positive ou négative ?

Yet, you need to address the negative effects of change. Either you can talk about people resisting change such as the American Republicans who want to ban abortion in the United States, or you can talk about global warming as a direct result of scientific progress (planes that produce a lot of kerosene, cars that produce carbon dioxide, …) for instance.

The important idea here is to qualify the common misconception that see progress as an improvement.

A retenir : The idea of progress ne peut pas être simplement perçue comme positive. Il ne faut pas oublier de porter un regard critique sur l’idée de progrès pour voir tous les effets négatifs que le progrès peut engendrer.

 

Les exemples à utiliser

The possibilities are endless. You can talk about the Suffragettes movement which gave women the right to vote in the United Kingdom and paved the way for gender equality.

You can talk about the end of the apartheid of South Africa with Nelson Mandela. Or the end of segregation in the United States. Those are the positive examples you can use in the first part of your presentation.

Do not forget to stress the nuances that will have to be tackled in your presentation. You can pick from varied examples. The genetic enhancement made possible by science in which you can decide the features of your baby is a new form of eugenics and raises a lot of ethical questions (who is worth living? why are some features more attractive than others?).

Another example is a very practical issue. Online shopping made shopping easier and gave working people access to a wide range of products they could not buy in a real store for time or money reasons. However, we know now that companies such as Amazon treat their employees atrociously. We can wonder if buying from their platforms is encouraging the way these employees are treated.

There is thus no denying that technological and scientific progress raise a lot of ethical issues.

 

Le vocabulaire utile pour la notion « idea of progress »

  • ethical (= éthique)
  • abortion (= l’avortement)
  • to pave the way for (= ouvrir la voie à)
  • global warming (= le réchauffement climatique)
  • the health insurance (= l’assurance maladie)
  • an issue (= un problème)
  • a range of (= une gamme)
  • a company (= une entreprise)
  • a misconception (= une idée reçue)
  • to resist change (= montrer des signes de résistance au changement)
  • achieve (= réaliser)
  • a breakthtough (= une découverte)
  • clearsighted (= visionnaire)
  • a forerunner (= un précurseur)
  • a drawback (= un inconvénient)
  • an improvement (= une amélioration)
  • a prospect (= une perspective)
  • to refine (= perfectionner)
  • warn (= mettre en garde)

 

N’oubliez pas de la compléter avec votre cours – les exemples donnés par votre professeur notamment. N’oubliez pas de nuancer vos propos et de construire votre discours. Maintenant, à vous de jouer!

N’hésitez pas à consulter d’autres fiches pour les oraux d’anglais !

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