space and exchanges

Space and exchanges – Oral de bac d’anglais

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Voici une fiche notionnelle pour vous aider à préparer votre oral du bac en anglais sur une notion centrale : Space and exchanges. En français, cela se traduit bien sûr par Espace et Échanges.


Space and exchanges – Definition

The notion of spaces and exchanges aims at questioning the geographical and symbolic areas shared by societies and the interaction between these societies. It raises several questions: what do societies exchange? how is the partition of space made between societies? are the exchanges economic, material or symbolic?


What you need to know about space and exchanges

This notion allows you to talk about a lot of different topics. Immigration, colonisation and globalization are the main three topics that you will be able to deal with. This notion wants you to question human relationships and the way societies function on their own or with their neighbours.


Relevant examples for space and exchanges

Ellis Island

General informations

Ellis Island is in New York, close to the Statue of Liberty. Built in 1892, it originally aimed at controlling the number of immigrants moving to the US. Because the United States had been presented as the land of the free, many Europeans continued to emigrate there long after the first European settlers. Jews came to escape religious persecution, Irish people fled hunger, and people from Eastern Europe tried to escape political persecution.


A compulsory border

Ellis Island was built as a kind of compulsory border for new immigrants arriving by boat. In this island, immigrants had to register and were examined by doctors. After this medical examination, they were told if they were allowed to enter the United States. Immigrants – especially men – needed to be in a good physical condition to enter the country as they needed to get work. The government did not want to accept immigrants that would not be able to find a job and that would consequently live in poverty. When it originally opened, Ellis Island was also a way to ensure that immigrants were in good health and would not contaminate Americans with foreign diseases.


Laws to limit immigration

However, as time passed and immigrants kept coming, the American government passed stricter laws to limit immigration. The main piece of legislation was the 1924 Quota act which limited people from certain origins to enter the country, which drastically curbed the immigration rate. Because those kinds of laws reduced immigration and as there was no use to screen (= trier, contrôler) immigrants as much, Ellis Island closed in 1954 and became the Ellis Island Museum of Immigration which is today open to visitors.


Positive and negative aspects of the globalization

Globalization is essentially about spaces and exchanges. It is the opening of national economies and societies towards each other.

Positive aspects

At first glance, the interconnectedness (= le fait d’être interconnecté) of different countries seems very positive and seems to promote peace throughout the world. Indeed, it has several positive impacts such as the faster flow of information that ties people together and prevents any society from being excluded. Globalization also increased the quality of goods and services someone can have access to and people can now buy from any part of the world. Finally, it has brought different cultures to the front stage : for instance, fish and chips were replaced as the ultimate British dish in the 1970s by the chicken tikka massala thanks to the number of Indian immigrants living in Britain. There is no denying that globalization seem to bring people together and to make them exchange various elements from their own culture.


Negative aspects

However, it is far from being that simple. Globalization has brought new issues that no one had foreseen (= que personne n’avait prédit). Indeed, because the market is interconnected, Western companies tend to produce their goods in countries with weaker environmental laws and contribute to polluting the planet excessively. Globalization adds to global warming because of those kinds of behaviour, but also because it triggered a massive economic growth that resulted in more harm on the planet than ever before. Besides, the fact that people can buy from whatever country they want created a lot of competition between countries to be more attractive economically. This has resulted in the development of child labor, and the exploitation of the labour force to produce more goods more quickly. In the past few years, numerous retailer brands such as H&M and Zara have been accused of employing children and treating their employees in an inhumane way.


Useful vocabulary – Space and Exchanges

  • globalization : la mondialisation
  • interconnectedness : le fait d’être interconnecté
  • to share : partager
  • values : les valeurs
  • labour : le travail
  • to be accused of + ing : être accusé de
  • inhumane : inhumain
  • global warming : le réchauffement climatique
  • to trigger : déclencher, mener à
  • to keep doing something : continuer de
  • to ensure : s’assurer de / que
  • a border : une frontière
  • settlers : les colons
  • to cross : traverser
  • to move : déménager

As long as you justify your presentation, any example can fit into space and exchanges. Do not learn by heart what you have learned at school ! Try and question how the examples you worked on are actually linked to spaces and exchanges. Your oral will be great!

N’hésitez pas à consulter notre fiche sur la prononciation en anglais qui est très importante lors de l’oral !


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