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ENGLISH
PRACTICE EXAM

READING
COMPREHENSION

June 2010

TEEN SPIRIT: THE SECRET LIFE OF BRITAIN’S TEENAGE BOYS

Nasif Mugisha lives in South London. He is full of life, seems kind, likes to run, and looks a little scary in his cadet’s uniform. Actually, Nas wants to join the Air Forces. He has wanted to be a pilot ever since he was four and first flew in a plane. At 15, he is alreadythinking ahead to a degree and career when all his friends talk of the pressure of exams. In the early evening, alter Nas’s mum, Sophia, has made some delicious noodles, Nas and his friends go to the park. Adults move out of the way, often giving them hostile looks. The boys feel empowered, but also annoyed at the adults’ reaction.
At 7.30 am every Sunday, whether sunny or cold, Nas stacks hisnewspaper trolley with copies of the local paper. “It can be very depressing when the weather is bad, delivering all those papers through the wind and the rain. But at times it’s really good.” Two years ago when he started he was paid £20 for delivering the papers, now it’s just £10 or £15 on a good day. “They don’t call us newspaper boys any more,” says Nas, “we’re called walkers. I call myself anewspaper distribution expert.”
Nas’s mother was born in Uganda, his father in Rwanda. They divorced when he was three, and yet he considers himself fortunate—both parents remarried and now he’s got two great sets of families. “My mum confides in me. When I was a child, certain things happened and mum would say, ‘Ah, you’re too young to know.’ Now that I’m older, she tells me everything.” Nas talksmore formally than most of his friends; he uses full sentences and only a little slang. “There are expectations of how a teenage boy will talk and act—especially a black teenage boy,” he says. And he adds, “African parents want you to do well and they always push you to speak properly.”
Nas is more confident than he was at primary school. “It all changed when I joined the cadets.” He learnedpractical skills such as map-reading and ironing. “At school, the older you get, the more fixed groups become,” he says. Because he is so busy with extracurricular activities, Nas feels left out at times. “At school there is the cool group, and then lots of other groups. The cool kids are really the ones who never make progress at school. Many of them drink and take drugs. I’d say a third of themeither smoke or drink.” Nas says he doesn’t drink or smoke at all. Why doesn’t he? “First of all, I’m Muslim. But also, I don’t see the point. I think if you’re an interesting enough person you can be interesting at a party without alcohol.”
On Monday evening Nas goes to Air Cadets; he has to take two buses and then walk. He is pleased because his group finished third out of 15 in last week’sathletics competition. They put in so much time and effort that tonight, as a reward, they don’t have to wear their uniform. Nas will give a map-reading lesson to the junior cadets, some of whom are actually older than him, and they are all extremely disciplined. The group is racially mixed, and yet the kids appear to be colour blind, as they line up orderly to salute the picture of the Queen. Nasappears to be more mature and prepared for adult life than earlier generations of teenagers. In a strange way, maybe society’s demonisation of teen boys has made them grow up more quickly.
Text adapted from The Guardian
empowered: enardits, envalentits / enardecidos, envalentonados
annoyed: molest, enfadat / molesto, enfadado
to stack: apilar
to deliver: lliurar / entregar
slang: argot
cool:legal, enrotllat / legal, enrollado

1- Nas wants to join the Air Forces…
a) because he will look cool in his uniform.
b) because he has always dreamt of becoming a pilot.
c) because he doesn’t want to do a degree.
d) in order to avoid the pressure of exams.

2- When Nas walks to the park with his friends…
a) they get hostile looks from everyone they come across.
b) they feel ashamed, as...
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