An Approach to ICSE English provides a platform to contribute, discuss and comment on the various issues related to the study and practice of English for the students and teachers of ICSE syllabus. Even with its focussed nature, An Approach to ICSE English will be beneficial to everyone involved in the learning the niceties of the English language.
Monday, 22 February 2016
ICSE March 2016 Pre-final Examinations
Answer to this paper must be written on the paper provided separately.
You will not be allowed to write during the first 15 minutes.
This time is to be spent in reading the question paper.
The time given at the head of the paper is the time allowed for writing the answers.________________________________________
Attempt all four questions.
The intended marks for questions or parts of questions are given in brackets [ ].
You are advised to spend not more than 35 minutes in answering Question 1 and 20 minutes in answering Question 2.
(Do not spend not more than 35 minutes on this Question.)
Write a composition (350-400 words) on any one of the following: 
(a) Recently you had visited a Home for the Aged in your city. During your visit, you got attracted to an old man living in the Home for the Aged and decided to visit him/her every week. Describe one of your visits to see the old man, highlighting what impressed you the most about him and also bringing out your feelings about him and his present condition.
(b) Street quarrels are common nowadays in our towns and cities. Describe a street quarrel you have witnessed.
(c) It is better to try and fail than not try at all. Discuss.
(d) Write a short story entitled The Narrow Escape.
(e) Study the picture given below. Write a story or a description or an account of what the picture suggests to you. Your composition may be about the subject of the picture or you may take suggestions from it; but there must be a clear connection between the picture and your composition.
(Do not spend not more than 20 minutes on this Question.) 
Select ONE of the following:
(a) You, along with some of your friends, have visited a place of tourist interest recently. Write a letter to your uncle about the visit, describing the attractions of the place and its impact on you.
(b) Write a letter to the editor of a national daily about the increasing levels of pollution in your city. Suggest a few ways in which the menace of pollution can be controlled.
Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions a, b, c, and d that follow:
The Star-Child is the story of an infant boy found abandoned in the woods by a poor woodcutter, who pities him and takes him in. He grows up to be exceedingly beautiful, but vain, cruel, and arrogant, believing himself to be the divine child of the stars. He lords himself over the other children, who follow him devotedly, and takes pleasure in torturing the forest animals and town beggars alike.
One day, a beggar, haggard and with bleeding feet, comes to town in search of her lost son, who the Star-Child is revealed to be. However, he rejects her and sends her away, and in doing so, is transformed into a loathsome cross between a toad and a snake as a punishment. His followers abandon him, and he sets off to seek forgiveness from his mother. He also repents his cruelty and asks forgiveness from the animals he tortured.
At length, he comes to a city, where he is captured and sold into slavery. His master treats him cruelly. On his first task, he sends him to find a piece of white gold hidden in the forest. The Star-Child searches all day, but cannot find it. On returning to the city, he sees a rabbit caught in a trap and stops to free him. In gratitude, the rabbit shows him where the gold is and the Star-Child gets it. However, returning with the gold, a beggar calls to him that he will surely starve unless he can give him money for food. The Star-Child gives him the gold, and his master beats him and gives him neither food nor water that night.
For the second task, he is told to go find a piece of yellow gold hidden in the forest. Again, the rabbit shows him where it is, and again, the beggar meets him at the gate, and again, the Star-Child gives him the gold. His master beats him and chains him up.
For the final task, his master tells him that unless he finds the hidden piece of red gold, he will kill him. The rabbit shows him where the gold is hidden, and he returns to the city with it. Along the way, he again meets the beggar and gives him the gold, deciding it means more to him than it does to himself.
Upon entering the city, everyone awaits him to crown him the new king, and he discovers the city's present rulers to be his mother, the beggar woman, and his father, the beggar he had given the gold to. At that point also, he is transformed to his former beautiful self.
(a) Three words or phrases are given below. Give the meaning of each as used in the passage. 
(b) Answer the following questions briefly and in your own words 
i. Who is Star-Child? How does he grow up?
ii. Who is the beggar that comes to the town one day? What happens to the star-child then?
iii. What were three tasks given by the master to the Star-Child?
iv. Who helped the Star-Child to succeed in the tasks?
v. What did the Star-Child do after he had succeeded in each of the tasks?
vi. What happened to the Star-Child at the end of the story? Why?
(c) In not more than 60 words, write a summary of the above story. 
(d) Choose a suitable title for the story and give reasons for the choice of the title. 
a) In the following passage, fill in each of the numbered blanks with correct form of the words given in brackets. Do not copy the passage, but write in correct serial order the word or phrase appropriate in the blank space. Example: 0 = contains 
A regular cup of coffee …..0…… (contain) approximately 100 mg of caffeine. The caffeine content varies …..1…… (depend) on how strong the coffee is made. Caffeine increases epinephrine (adrenaline) release, which stimulates the central nervous system, increases alertness and increases heartbeat. Despite its …..2…… (grow) popularity, most people ….3…… (believe) coffee to be a somewhat toxic …..4…… (addict) taken only as an indulgence or to overcome sleep and boost alertness. Numerous studies now, however, reveal that coffee ….5…… (consume) and caffeine does not contribute to cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and stroke, even in people who drink more than four cups of coffee a day. Even though coffee does cause a transient increase in blood pressure, moderate coffee …..6…… (drink) does not pose a significant risk to those with hypertension. A recent study …..7…… (report) that coffee is a major source of dietary anti-oxidants and may inhibit inflammation and thereby lower the risk of cardio-vascular diseases and other …..8…… (inflame) diseases
b) Fill in the blanks with appropriate words: 
1. He is giving French lessons …… exchange for English lessons.
2. The office staffs were seated …… the bottom of the table.
3. Many Italian words are derived …… Latin.
4. The army was alerted to deal …… the disorder in the city.
5. He was then faced …… an immediate problem.
6. The magazine had a feature …… Tagore.
7. He has always been critical …… my success.
8. He was ignorant …… her plans.
(c) Join the following sentences to make one complete sentence without using and, but, or so. 
1. Tina went to Tom’s house in the evening. She lost her anklet.
2. Those days were marvelous. Can we forget them?
3. Susanna gave a blanket to her maid.. She bought it last week.
4. Rashmi has a remunerative job. She does not look after her family
(d) Rewrite the following sentences according to the instructions given after each of them, Make other changes necessary, but do not change the meaning of the sentence. 
1. It is a pity that the culprit was not punished.
[Begin: I wish …………..]
2. Rosanna was so ecstatic with the success that she started weeping.
[Begin: So ………………]
3. Richard returned to work a week ago.
[Begin: It has been ……...]
4. A loving heart is the divinest creation of God.
[Begin: No other ………..]
5. Hardly had Serena won the match when the crowd gave her a standing ovation.
[Begin: No sooner……….]
6. Marita said to Mathew, "Please, do not forget to bring the flowers tomorrow".
7. There was heavy rain. The game continued.
8. The taxi is very slow. We cannot reach the station in time.
Saturday, 20 February 2016
My Lost Dollar
The author’s friend Todd was going for a short stay in Bermuda. Just before his departure, he borrowed a dollar from the author to pay off the taxi.
When Todd wrote a letter to from Bermuda, the author expected a dollar bill in the envelope.
Twelve months go by. Todd has returned from Bermuda but has not bothered to return the one dollar to the author. The lender is too decent to offend his friend by demanding his dollar back. However, the thought that Todd had borrowed the dollar bothered the author, and he made some futile attempts to get back the dollar.
First, he went to the railway station to receive Todd when he returned from Bermuda. He found Todd very cheerful, but at all ashamed that he had not returned his loan of a dollar. Later, during an evening tête-à-tête, the author raised the topic of the American dollar and asked whether it was used in Bermuda too. Todd did not get the hint about the unpaid dollar.
The author met Todd almost daily in the Club; however, Todd did not refer about the due dollar. One day, Todd is disapprovingly observed that Poland had defaulted its debts. The author was very much upset that Todd did not consider his un-paid debt. Annoyed at Todd’s irresponsible attitude, the author wrote off his loaned dollar and added Todd’s name to his list of defaulters of one-dollar loans.
The author, offended and distraught, accepts that forgetting to repay loans was a human frailty. The distressed by the thought that he could have taken such loans and not repaid it. Tormented with guilt, the author desired that his creditors would claim their repayments. Haunted by the disquiet of loan defaults, he wished to initiate a “Back to Honesty’ campaign. He is persuaded that honesty should be the core of all nations seeking greatness.
The author did not desire his ‘forgetful’ friend to know of the agony he had undergone because of the non-payment of the debt and exhorted his readers not to bring the copies of the story to the University Club Montreal patronised by Major Todd.
The Last Leaf
A firm friendship bloomed between two young artists, Sue and Johnsy, based on reciprocal trust and shared artistic inclinations. They shared a ‘studio’ in the strange old Greenwich Village. Everything was going well till Johnsy fell ill with pneumonia in the wintry November. The illness affected her so much that she remained all day in bed sure of death. She lied down gloomily watching through her window the leaves fall off from a vine. The doctor did not have much hope of her recovery as she was utterly defeated by the sickness. When Johnsy confided to Sue that her passionate desire was to paint the Bay of Naples, Sue sat in the room sketching trying to draw her sorrow to her art. However, Johnsy was sure that death would come when the last leaf of the vine fell.
An old thwarted artist Behrman, who always declared that he would paint a masterpiece lived below Johnsy and Sue. Sue told him that her friend was dying and that Johnsy insisted that when the last leaf fell off of the vine outside her window, she would die. Even though Behrman derided the foolish notion, his protective attitude towards the two girls made him see Johnsy and the vine.
That night was horribly stormy, and icy rain spattered against the window. There was only one leaf left on the vine. Sue closed the window and pleaded to Johnsy to go to sleep because she did not want Johnsy to see the last leaf fall. Next morning, Johnsy was sure that the last leaf had fallen, and death beckoned her too, When they opened the window, they were astonished to see that there was still one leaf left.
Johnsy judged that the leaf stayed there to show her sinfulness in accepting death without a fight. that made her resolve to live. Her will to live made her recovery fully.
In the afternoon, the doctor came and told Sue that Behrman was dead. But before his death, Behrman had painted a masterpiece - the last leaf was Behrman’s masterpiece. He had painted the leaf after the last leaf had fallen off the vine. His final act- the last leaf on the wall gave Johnsy hope and life.
Tuesday, 16 February 2016
The story The Kabuliwala is narrated by the father of a five-year-old Mini. The talkative and innocent Mini and Rahamat, a hawker of dry fruits from Kabul, are the central characters of the story.
One morning Mini saw a Kabuliwala through her window and called out to him. He was a tall, untidily dressed man with a turban on his head and a bag slung over his shoulder. As soon as the Kabuliwala drew close the house, Mini ran and vanished inside. Her father bought some dry fruits and chatted with him and came to know of him and his family at Kabul. Then he called Mini and introduced her to Rahamat, the Kabuliwala so that she would shed her fear of the Kabuliwala. Rahamat gave Mini some dry fruits from his bag.
Later Mini’s father found that his daughter and Kabuliwala had struck up a happy relationship, and the two of them met practically every day. The Kabuliwala was a patient listener to Mini’s tittle-tattle and also gave her loads of nuts and raisins. The Kabuliwala entertained Mini with stories of his motherland.
Mini’s mother, Rama, was against the growing companionship between her daughter and the Kabuliwala and feared he would kidnap Mini one day and sell her off as a slave.
All of a sudden disaster struck the Kabuliwala. He was arrested and sentenced to several years of incarceration for stabbing one of his customers who owed him money. After his release from the jail, the Kabuliwala went to Mini’s house to meet her. However, He found that Mini had grown up, and it was her wedding day.
Mini’s father was not happy to see the Kabuliwala on that day and considered it inauspicious to let him see Mini. He persuaded the Kabuliwala to go away. Before going away, the Kabuliwala left a few grapes and raisins for Mini. He then showed Mini’s father a tatty piece of paper with a charcoal print of a tiny hand. It was his daughter’s. Filled with pity for the Kabuliwala, Mini’s father called Mini. When the Kabuliwala saw Mini in her bridal dress, he was surprised to find a young woman he could not recognise. Mini was embarrassed when she thought of their long-forgotten companionship and shied away. The Kabuliwala found it extremely difficult to reconcile with the reality. Seeing the predicament of the Kabuliwala, Mini’s father offered him enough money to return to Kabul to join up with his daughter. Even though he had to cut down some of the wedding celebrations, he was contented with his humanistic gesture to a distressed father.
W. Somerset Maugham
The King of Siam had nine daughters named after the months of the year. The youngest daughter named September had a very pleasing personality. Her other sisters were all of sullen nature. One year on his birthday the King gave each of his daughters a beautiful green parrot in a golden cage. The parrots shortly learnt to speak. Unfortunately, the parrot of Princess September died. She was heartbroken.
Presently a little bird bounded into her room and sang a lovely song about the king’s garden, the willow tree and the goldfish. The princess was thrilled. The bird decided to stay with her and sing her beautiful songs. When the princesses’ sisters became jealous when they came top know of the sweet bird that sang better than their parrots. The malicious sisters urged Princess September to put the bird in a cage.
The innocent princess put the bird into a cage. The bird was bewildered but the princess justified caging the bird as she was afraid of the lurking cats. When the bird tried to sing, it had to stop midway as it felt wretched in the cage. The next morning the bird asked Princess September to release her from the cage, she did not listen to it. Instead she assured the bird that it would have three meals a day and nothing to worry all day. The bird was not happy with it and pleaded to let it out from the cage. September try to console the bird saying that she had caged the bird because of her love for it. The distraught bird did not sing the whole day and stopped eating its food.
The next morning the princess noticed the bird lying in the cage still. Thinking that the bird was dead, she started weeping. Then the bird rose and told the princess that t could not sing unless it was free and if it could not sing it would die. Taking pity on the bird, the kind princess released the bird. The bird flew away. Yet, it returned to enchant the princess with its sweet songs. The princess kept her windows open day and night for the bird to come and go whenever it wanted.