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Text 1. Age (A)

«How old are you?» It´s a simple question, and there´s usually a simple answer: «sixteen years old», «twenty years old», «fifty-five», etc. But if someone is described as «young» or «middle-aged» or «old», then how old are they? It´s difficult to know because these words have different meanings for different people.

Except for the word teenager, which describes someone whose age ends in the syllable «teen» in English (such as fourteen, fifteen and sixteen), words which describe age are not exact. When, for example, does a baby stop being called a baby and become a young child? When does a boy become a young man and a little girl become a young woman? At what age does middle age begin? When do you call someone elderly and not simply old? At what age does someone become an adult? In some countries, like Britain, France and the United States, it is when the government says a person is old enough to vote. Is that really the difference between a child and an adult?

The answers to these questions partly depend on how old you are. There is a saying that old age is always ten years older than yourself. If you are a youth of fifteen then you think someone of twenty-five is old. At thirty, forty seems old. If you are seventy, then you probably think someone of eighty is old.

A recent survey showed that there was some truth in the old saying. People were asked, «When is middle age?», those in their early twenties usually answered, «Between thirty-five and fifty» and people in their thirties answered, «Between forty-five and sixty».


  1. Read and translate the text. Try to retell it.
  2. Match a line A with a line in B

Text 2. Long Life. (B)

Scientists are finally beginning to unlock the secret everyone has been dying to know: just how long can we live? They confidently predict that in the 21st century people will be living to the incredible age of 130. And this is just the start.

Experts who are studying the process of ageing believe it is possible that people will live long enough to have great-great-great-great-greatgrandchildren. This belief is based on research and on the fact that more and more people are living to be 100 as our general health improves. There are around 4000 people over the age of 100 in Britain — ten times more than 30 years ago.

Dr. Vijg, a Dutch biologist, is the head of a project studying the growing number of old people in the population. He and his team are focusing their attention on human genes, which they think may hold the key to what kills us, early or late in life.

A century ago average life expectancy in Europe was 45. Today, providing we look after ourselves, drive our cars carefully, and cut down on things like butter, alcohol and cigarettes, we can add nearly 30 years to that figure. Within the next ten years, we may all have added a couple more years on top of that.

But that is nothing, compared to what will happen once scientists have discovered our genetic secrets. Some of the problem g

enes, like those that cause haemophilia, have already been tracked down. Dr. Vijg says: «Nobody dies from old age — just from diseases that affect people as they get older». And he forecasts that within 30 years, science will be preparing people for a longer life. «Already the killer diseases are being eradicated», he says. «About 50% of cancers are curable, and I really believe that this will increase to 80%».

Doctors also believe that the death rate from the biggest killers — diseases of the circulatory system - will decline as man comes to his senses by giving up smoking and eating more healthily. Dr. Vijg points to experiments with animals in laboratories. «Those given less food, but of a higher quality, lived to the human equivalent of 150 years».

Dr. Vijg believes that as life span increases, so will other expectations. Women will be having babies at older age. «Already, more and more women are having their first child when they are over 30», he says. «In another ten years people might think it normal for a woman of 50 to be having her first child».

What about living forever? Will eternal life ever become a reality? «So far, that is science fiction», says Dr. Vijg. «Theoretically it is possible, but it will be another hundred, perhaps two hundred years before we know all the secrets of our genes».


1) Read and translate the text, answer the following questions:

What do you think about the facts in this text?

Do you want to live forever?

2) This chart gives information about the ages at which young people in Britain are allowed to do certain things. Make the same chart about your country.