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Check the words in the box
Ø What is a teenager?
A teenager is....
· a person who can't remember to walk the dog but never forgets a phone number;
· someone who can hear his or her favorite singer 3 blocks away but not their mother calling from the next room;
· a whiz who can operate the latest computer without a lesson but can't make a bed;
· a connoisseur of 2 kinds of fine music -loud and very loud;
· an original thinker who is positive that his or her mother was never a teenager;
· a romantic who never falls in love more than once a week;
· a student who spends 12 minutes studying history and 12 hours studying for his or her driving license.
What definition do you like most? Which one describes you? Which suits to all teens best? How would you describe a teenager?
Reading and vocabulary
I. Skim the text to grasp the general idea
What is a teenager?
Officially, of course, a teenager is anyone aged from thirteen to nineteen inclusive but most people would probably think first of all of a younger age group and exclude 18 and 19 year olds. After all, once you reach eighteen you can vote, get married without your parents permission and join the army, so it seems logical that you are considered as an adult rather than a child. At the other end of the scale, children are growing up and developing more quickly and these days 11 and 12 year olds would like to include themselves in the ‘teenager’ group. In actual fact they have their own group title now – ‘Pre-teens’ or sometimes ‘Between-agers’.
Without getting hung up on actual ages, perhaps what we really mean by ‘teenagers’ are people who are in the stage of their life when they are developing from children into adults. This is really a 20th century idea because in the old days children used to grow up much more quickly, with boys working full-time at the age of eleven or twelve and girls either working or helping out with younger children. In many parts of the world this is still the case.
Are teenagers a problem?
Parents and grandparents always seem to start from the premise that teenagers are in a special category when it comes to defining the human race. According to ‘the older generation’ teenagers are lazy, they wear ridiculous clothes and are appallingly rude to their betters and elders; they find it impossible to be polite, helpful, constructive, caring or hard-working. What’s more, they spend all their time listening to awful music (“It isn’t music, it’s a collection of horrendous noises!”) and watching unsuitable films. And all they ever think about is parties, drugs and sex. Well, that’s how the story goes! But is it anywhere near the truth?
Actually, it seems to me to be quite the opposite of the truth. Teenagers spend a lot of time thinking about their work (studies), their families and friends and their hobbies. Sure, there are certain preoccupations such as clothes, money, how to behave in a certain situation, their bodies.
But isn’t it the same for most people? So what about the myth that all teenagers are rude, selfish, lazy and greedy? As far as I’m concerned, it’s nonsense. The vast majority of young people I meet are polite, friendly, open, interested and hard-working.
Do teenagers have problems?
You might as well ask “Do hens lay eggs?” Teenagers are human, so of course they have problems. And the problems aren’t very different from anyone else’s.
What’s going to happen at work/school tomorrow?
Why does Dad like my sister better than me?
Am I too fat/skinny/tall/short etc.?
Does my boyfriend/girlfriend really like me?
How can I afford to buy….?
Am I stupid?
There isn’t anyone alive in the world who hasn’t posed these questions. We usually do it when we turn out the light and lie down in bed at night and the answers aren’t very satisfactory! It’s true, of course, that sometimes teenagers have special problems. It isa difficult time because it is a period of transformation. It isn’t quite as bad as a chrysalis changing into a butterfly but it may seem like it – or even the other way round! It isn’t easy to grow up and the physical and emotional changes are often confusing and worrying. But it’s my impression that most young people cope rather well.
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