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Intermediate English dialogue


Teens and Culture

What do British teenagers think about culture? Horizon magazine* talked to some English sixth-formers to find out their views

Talking about "culture" ...

Simplified from a discussion among teenagers

Theatre"Theatre" is definitely culture; but what about cinema, or pop music?

HORIZON: What does the word "culture" mean to you?

SIMON: Culture?

HORIZON: Yes, culture!

ERIC:  Don't ask him, he doesn't know what the word means!

SIMON: Shut up, you! Of course I do. I know quite a lot about culture....

ERIC: O.K. then, what?

SIMON: Well it's reading, and music, and the arts, and so on. Cinema.....

ERIC: Yes, it's anything like that.

HORIZON: Right. And do either of you take part in any cultural activities?

SIMON: Yes.... I watch quite a few cultural programmes on telly. And I like drawing too.

ERIC: Well I watch quite a lot of films, mainly on the box. That's cultural, isn't it ?

SIMON: It depends on the film really, doesn't it? I mean, some films are cultural, but there's plenty that aren't. I mean, you couldn't call Jurassic Park culture, could you?

ERIC: Why not ? Of course it's culture.

HORIZON: What about Titanic? Was that culture?

ERIC  Oh absolutely!  It was really cool!

SIMON: Yeah, I agree. I mean it was a story really, wasn't it? And it was history. It made you think about things. It wasn't just action.

HORIZON: And what about other forms of culture? Do you ever go to the theatre, or to a concert?

ERIC: I've only ever been to the theatre once, and that was with school; I thought it was a waste of time.

HORIZON: Your parents don't go to the theatre?

ERIC: No, they never go out.... except to the pub.

SIMON: We usually go to the panto at Christmas; but I've only been to the theatre once apart from that, as far as I can remember. That was to see the Mousetrap **. It was great!

CLARE: I love going to the theatre. I wish I could go more often, but I really have to push my mum sometimes. What I like best are musicals.... I saw Evita in London a couple of years ago. It was fabulous; and I've seen Phantom of the Opera too. That was absolutely fantastic.

HORIZON: So you enjoy music, then; do you play an instrument or anything?

CLARE: No. Sometimes I wish I did. I played the recorder when I was little, but that's all. But I love music, very much. I like all kinds of music.... well most kinds. I can't say I'm really into jazz all that much.

HORIZON: What about pop music? Is that culture? What d'you think, Rebecca?

REBECCA: Yeah, of course  ....... Most of it, anyway. I'm not sure if you can call some kinds of rap "culture"; but most of the time, pop's a sort of culture, isn't it?

SIMON: Oh definitely. It's just different.

REBECCA: Yes, I suppose so; I mean something can be cultural for one person, but awful for someone else, can't it?.

ERIC: Like rap....

REBECCA: Well yes.... if you look at it like that.

HORIZON: And reading? Do any of you read books, for your own pleasure?

CLARE: Oh yes, I read lots. I love reading.


ERIC: Not much. I read Harry Potter, but not normally. I prefer video games. Books are too slow, normally.

HORIZON: And d'you think you get enough culture?

CLARE: Not really....

ERIC: It depends what you mean by culture, doesn't it?  I think it'd be better if they made it more interesting at school. But they make it boring, so you just switch off.

CLARE: Don't be ridiculous! It's you that think it's boring, that's all. It isn't really! You just don't try to enjoy it.

* Horizon magazine: Original Linguapress printed magazine for low intermediate learners. No longer published.
** The Mousetrap - A very famous detective thriller by Agatha Christie

Word guide
the box - television - plenty: quite a lot - panto: pantomime, a traditional comedy - enjoy : appreciate, like -  recorder: a simple type of flute - be into : be interested in, like - switch off: stop paying attention -  -

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Student Worksheet

Grammar : Note the use of “question tags” in the dialogue. For example:

It depends on the film, doesn’t it?

Now select the appropriate tags for these statements..

1. You’ve already seen the film Titanic, ?
2. That’s a film by Steven Spielberg, ?
3. You don’t really believe what he says, ?
4. They like going to the cinema on Saturdays, ?
5. Last night you went to the theatre ?
6. Some people don’t like any kinds of culture, ?
7. Jurassic park was a very exciting film, ?
8. They’re going to make a new film about Robin Hood,  ?

For teachers

Ideas for the classroom:
 Oral work; Take this dialogue in class, alternating the roles frequently to involve as many students as possible. Concentrate on sentence stress and intonation if possible. Note in particular the tag questions.
  Make sure that students place the apostrophe in the correct place in expressions like don't or isn't .
  Remind students of the rule for tags: a tag repeats the base auxiliary that was used or implied, with a negative/affirmative transformation, as in :  You've done that, haven't you.

   Stressing of tags depends on the nature of the tag.
   Most tags are not real questions; the speaker is expressing a point of view, and is just asking for confirmation, as in
        You couldn't call Jurassic Park culture, could you?
"Normal"  tags such as this, whether they are affirmative or negative, take a falling stress.
        You / couldn't call Jurassic Park \ culture, \ could you?         

Occasionally, tags really have an interrogative value; the speaker is asking a question, as in
        It depends what you mean by culture, doesn't it?
In these cases, the tag takes a rising intonation.
        It de/pends what you mean by \culture, doesn't / it?
For more on tags see A Descriptive Grammar of English §4.4 , pages 164 - 166

Other ideas?
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This teaching resource is © copyright Linguapress renewed 2020.
Originally published in Horizon the intermediate level English newsmagazine.
Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised

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Intermediate level EFL resource
Level: low intermediate
Target readers : teenagers, young adults

Readability -
Easy to read.     
Average grade level: 5.1
Flesch-Kincaid Reading ease level:  83.1

A selection of other resources in graded English
from Linguapress
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Short story - One foggy night
Sport: The story of football and rugby
Big red London buses
USA: Who was Buffalo Bill?
USA: Close encounters with a Twister  
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Advanced level reading :
Charles Babbage, the father of the computer
Who killed Martin Luther King?
The story of the jet plane
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More: More advanced reading texts  
Selected grammar pages
Verbs in English
Noun groups in English
Word order in English
Reported questions in English
Language and style 
Word stress in English
The short story of English

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Copyright notice.

This resource is © copyright Linguapress renewed 2020
Originally published in Horizon magazine. Updated 2017.

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