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News-based English language activities from the global newspaper Page 1

October 2009
Level ≥ Advanced
Style ≥ Individual or group activities
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

Pakistan youth learn how to rock in defiance of Taliban

Riff takers ... Bambu Sauce pratise in Islamabad Declan Walsh

unknown vocabulary with a dictionary. Which list

Before reading won’t you find in the article?
1 Look at the headline, photo and caption of the a extremists, insurgents, security concerns, turmoil,
article. Discuss these questions with a partner. internal chaos
a What is the Taliban? What do you know about its b campaign, turnout, electorate, peaceful, victory,
history? voters
b What type of music are the young people learning? c creativity, scene, gig, performances, internet, passion
c Why is learning this music “in defiance of the
Taliban”? 3 Vocabulary from the article. Complete the defini-
Share your ideas with the rest of the class. tions with the verbs below.
hone, nourish, skirt, sign up, tap into, thrive
2 Look at the lists of words below. Check any a If you , you become and
continue to be successful. ≥2
News-based English language activities from the global newspaper Page 2

October 2009

b If you a skill, you improve it tradition but modern musicians have generally
over a period of time. skirted political issues.
c If you to a course, you add
your name to the list of people doing it. 7 That hasn’t stopped some of the new rock
d If you an idea or belief, you groups opting for a playful take on the turmoil.
help it to grow stronger. The Islamabad band Bumbu Sauce – the name
e If you a problem, you avoid comes from an instant ­noodles packet – recently
talking about it. brought out Jiggernaut, a single that mixes refer-
f If you a person’s knowl- ences to kung fu, talking dogs and the Taliban.
edge, you make use of their ideas and ­experience.
Guitarist Shehryar Mufti is not worried the insur-
gents might take the joke badly.
Article 8 “Their beef is with the government, not the
Pakistan youth learn how to ­people,” he said. “I think rock is low on their
rock in defiance of Taliban
9 Pakistani rock music gained traction with the
1 Even in the shadow of recent Taliban violence
arrival of satellite television in the 1990s. Today
young Pakistanis are rocking on. An under-
the musicians, many self-taught, publicise them-
ground music scene is quietly thriving in the
selves through networking websites such as
country’s major cities, nourished by the internet
­Facebook and MySpace, and FM radio stations.
and the passion of mostly amateur bands.
Declan Walsh
2 In Lahore a pair of unemployed rockers have
tapped into that enthusiasm with a new school
for rock’n’roll. “We weren’t getting a lot of gigs,
and we needed to survive,” said co-founder
Hamza Jafri. “So we thought we’d try this.”

3 The Guitar School, as it is known, has been sur-

prisingly successful. Around 40 students have
signed up, ranging from surly teenagers in tight in defiance of somebody (expression) as an open
jeans to more practised musicians looking to refusal to obey somebody
hone their skills.
surly (adjective) rude and bad tempered
4 Many come from wealthy families that might
once have stigmatised music. But a popular new a patina of respectability, wealth etc (noun) the
appearance of being respectable, wealthy etc.
television show featuring live performances,
Coke Studio, has given rock ­music a new patina
gain traction (expression) begin to make solid progress
of respectability.

5 But making it to the next stage is difficult. For the

past six months virtually all public ­performances
in Lahore have stopped because of extremists’

6 But the country’s internal chaos is also feed-

ing creativity. Pakistanis have a rich musical ≥3
News-based English language activities from the global newspaper Page 3

October 2009

While reading
1 Read the first four paragraphs of the article. Choose
the best answer.
The Pakistani rock music scene has:
a rapidly declined because of Taliban ­violence.
b quietly done well due to the enthusiasm of bands.
c become globally successful due to the internet. e When did rock music become more popular? Why?
d thrived with the help of professional musicians.

The Guitar School was founded by:

a a group of rock musicians from new bands.
b some teenagers looking to hone their skills.
c a pair of successful rockers from rich families.
d a couple of musicians without any work.
f How do many of the new musicians get publicity?
Rock music is more respectable because of the:
a wealthy students at the Guitar School.
b creation of a music venue called Coke Studio.
c appearance of a music programme on TV.
d increase in live performances online.

2 Read the rest of the article. Answer the questions.

a Why have public performances stopped in Lahore? After reading
1 Work with a partner. What do you think these words
mean? What part of speech are they? Paragraph
numbers are in brackets.
a “… we needed to survive,” said ­co-founder Hamza
Jafri. (2)

b How have modern musicians treated political

b For the past six months virtually all performances
have stopped. (5)

c The country’s internal chaos is feeding creativity. (6)

c Where does the band Bumbu Sauce get its name

d That hasn’t stopped some of the new rock groups

opting for a playful take on the turmoil. (7)

d Is Mufti worried about the Taliban? Why/Why not? ≥4
People Verbs
Rock music
Abstract nouns Music groups
Answers sion, publicise oneself, rocker, rock group.
Before reading
guitarist, live performance, self-taught musician, pas-
1 a The Taliban is a Sunni Muslim movement which has an extremely conserva- amateur band, bring out a single, creativity, festival, gig,
tive interpretation of Muslim values and traditions. It controlled Afghanistan from
1996 to 2001 when it was displaced by Nato forces. Since 2004 it has regrouped
1. You may need to change the form of the verbs.
and become a strong insurgency movement operating in both Afghanistan and
words can you add to it?s with words from exercise
areas of Pakistan. b Rock music. c Because the Taliban strongly disapprove of below. Then work is small groups. How many new
modern music.
2 Add these words from the article to the word map
3 a thrive b hone c sign up d nourish e skirt f tap into
While reading
1 b, d, c
2 a Because of extremist attacks. b They have avoided them. c An instant noodles
packet. d No. He thinks that the insurgents’ argument is with the government. e
The1990s. Because of the arrival of satellite TV. f On networking websites and FM
radio stations.
After reading f ... the musicians, many self-taught … (9)
1 a noun, person who jointly started it. b adverb, almost. c verb, providing mate-
rial for / helping d noun, particular opinion about a situation. e noun, complaint.
f adjective, having learned by yourself.
2 people: guitarist, rocker, self-taught musician; music groups: amateur band,
rock group; events: festival, gig, live ­performance; verbs: bring out a ­single, publi-
cise oneself; abstract nouns: ­creativity, passion
e “Their beef is with the government ...” (8)
October 2009
Page 4 News-based English language activities from the global newspaper