News-based English language activities from the global newspaper

one man Review How | July 18-24 2008

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Welcome to the Guardian Weekly’s special news-based materials to support learners and teachers of English. Each month, the Guardian Weekly newspaper selects topical news articles that can be used to practise English language skills. The materials are graded for two levels: Advanced and Lower Intermediate. These worksheets can be downloaded free from You can also find more advice for teachers and learners on the site Materials prepared by Janet Hardy-Gould

Young author gives a voice to China’s rebel generation

Z gang . . . teenagers outside the D-22 club in Beijing Matthew Niederhauser

Before reading
1 Look at the headline, photo and caption of the article. Complete the paragraph below with words from the headline and caption. The article is about (a) of (b) (c) (d) in the country

as the rebel (e)


2 Work with a partner and discuss the questions below. a Describe the stereotypical image of teenagers in your country in terms of their: • interests • appearance • behaviour b Do you think such stereotypes are fair or realistic?

who have been given a by a new . These young people are known


News-based English language activities from the global newspaper

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August 2008


remains restricted to the comfortable and educated middle class of urban centres. 7 A further problem is China’s 30-year-old policy limiting parents to one child. “This has created a generation of over-indulged children who have little ability to confront disappointment or hardship,” said Deng Jun, a child psychologist in Beijing. “There is also an enormous pressure on only children to succeed. They feel depressed, anguished and can easily become suicidal. They often have problems making friends.” 8 “Our generation lack confidence, and as we are often only children we are terrified of being alone or losing friends,” said Wei Peng Fei, 17, a schoolgirl queueing to buy Tang’s book at a central Beijing bookshop.

Young author gives voice to China’s rebel generation
1 He is sullen, brooding, 15 years old and now among China’s bestselling authors. Tang Chao’s paperback, Give Me Back The Dream, a dark tale of teenage love, conflict with parents and adolescent suicide, reached the top of the bestseller lists last month, a success confirming the coming of age of what has been dubbed the country’s “Generation Z”.

2 “I just tell the story of people I know,” Tang said. “We are the post-1990s generation and society doesn’t understand us.” 3 Such sentiments might be the staple of sulky adolescents in the west, but they are new in China. If the country’s Generation X grew up in the aftermath of the devastating Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, and Generation Y enjoyed the extraordinary economic growth of the 1980s and 1990s, “Generation Z” has a different teen spirit. 4 Books such as Give Me Back The Dream and the “adolescent anguish” series of Rao Xuenan sell millions of copies. So do the novels of Guo Jingming, 24, which feature melancholy young heroes, violence, alcohol and karaoke. Alternative music with a nihilistic style is also beginning to make inroads. More than anything, the real novelty is simply the idea that teenagers can be grumpy, hostile and apathetic. 5 “Our parents think we are like them, but we are not,” said Ye Jiadi, 18, smoking a cigarette outside the D-22 club in the university area of Beijing. “We just want to hang out. We don’t want to live like our fathers lived. We have our own way.” 6 In a country where hundreds of millions still live below the poverty line, the “Z” phenomenon

Jason Burke Observer

staple (noun) a large part of something aftermath (noun) the situation that exists after an event (usually negative) such as a war, accident etc. anguish (noun) severe unhappiness or mental suffering nihilistic (adjective) believing that religious and moral principles have no value hang out (phrasal verb) to spend time in with friends doing not very much


News-based English language activities from the global newspaper

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August 2008

While reading
1 Read the first four paragraphs of the article and answer the questions. a Who is Tang Chao? Why is he famous?

After reading
1 Adjectives crossword Go through the article and underline the adjectives. Use some of them to complete the crossword below. Across 1 Extremely worried (9) 3 Very frightened (9) 4 Huge; very big (8) 7 Angry and silent (6) 8 Bad tempered (informal) (6) Down 1 Showing no interest or enthusiasm (9) 2 Looking sad; thinking about things that upset you (8) 5 Refusing to be friendly; silently annoyed (5) 6 An ___ child has no brothers or sisters (4)

b What are the main themes of Give Me Back The Dream?

c When did Generation X and Generation Y grow up?

d How is Generation Z different from the previous generations?

e How many copies do these new adolescent books sell?

f What are the main features of Guo Jingming’s novels?

g What is the real novelty of Generation Z?

2 Read the rest of the article from paragraph five onwards. Write the paragraph numbers next to the paragraph titles below. Two of the titles are not needed. a The fear of a life alone b The home of Generation Z — affluent, urban China. c The new generation — a phenomenon of rural poverty d The aftermath of the single child policy e Generation Z — how they benefited from the single child policy f A generation different to their parents 3 Work with a partner. Discuss the question below. Are the teenagers of Generation Z similar to the young people in your country? Why?/Why not?

Choose five of the adjectives and use them to write your own sentences. 1


News-based English language activities from the global newspaper

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August 2008


Read the quotations below about the subject of youth. Use a dictionary to check any unknown vocabulary. Work in small groups. Discuss the meaning of the quotations. Do you agree with them? Share your ideas as a class. Do you know any famous proverbs or quotations about youth from your country? a “Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.” Herbert Asquith 1923, British prime minister. b “Youth is a blunder; manhood a struggle; old age a regret.” Benjamin Disraeli 1844, British prime minister. c “Young folks think old folks to be fools, but old folks know young folks to be fools.” Late 16th-century English proverb. d “At 18 our convictions are hills from which we look; at 45 they are the caves in which we hide.” F Scott Fitzgerald, 1920, American writer. From Bernice Bobs her Hair. e “It’s all that the young can do for the old, to shock them and keep them up to date.” George Bernard Shaw, 1914. From Fanny’s First Play.




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