Subject Material

Growing Up in London

Published: 14.11.2012, Updated: 03.03.2017
London StreetLondon Street

London is a metropolis that attracts young people from all parts of Britain and from all over the world. Apart from being an educational centre offering countless options, a lot of people find delight in the hustle and bustle of the busy city. Londoners say that once you’re a Londoner, you can’t live anywhere else.

Yet the city is marred by an escalating number of stabbings and killings among young people with “violence on their minds”. To make it worse, in July 2005 a series of suicide bombings on the city’s vital transportation system, caused the death of 52 innocent citizens and drastically affected people’s sense of safety. Still, Londoners have always demonstrated a remarkable ability to cope. Badges and buttons with the slogan “Londoner in Spirit” were a common sight. The message was: “Defy the terrorists by showing that you are a Londoner in spirit if not in fact, and that you don’t intend to live in fear.”

Though violence and terror often dominate the news headlines, more than 8 million Londoners go about their daily lives in a regular non-eventful manner - like the two brothers interviewed below. London is a safe city with a diversity "to die for".

Listen to the Interview

Listen to the interview with Charlie (14) and his brother Harry (12) about  what is like to grow up in London these days.

Charlie attends Harrow School in London which is one of England’s oldest boarding schools, whereas Harry lives in Fulham with his parents and attends Northcote Lodge, a preparatory day school in London for boys aged 8 to 13.

Growing Up in London



Tasks and Activities

1 Comprehension

  1. What does Harry like to do in his spare time?
  2. What is Harry's plan for a future career?
  3. How many stabbings have occurred in London so far this year? Are the boys worried?
  4. Are the two boys concerned about the environment? What kind of measures do they suggest?
  5. What does Charlie consider as a major threat for the future?

2 Find Out

On this link, Taking on the gangs, BBC is talking to a group of girls that have been involved in gang violence.
  1. These girls have grown up in Hackney in East London. What kind of background do you think these girls have?
  2. Why do you think these girls have committed gang violence?
  3. What kind of strategy is employed to avoid recruiting girls to gangs?
  4. What do you think about the measures taken by the social workers?
  5. How do their methods differ from regular police methods?
  6. Which success stories are revealed? Why do you think these two girls succeeded?

3 Discuss

The interview with the two boys and the BBC news report are from 2008, have there been any events since then which have given a positive or negative view of London with respect to violence and terrorism? (Suggested search words: London + violence, terrorism, control of terrorism, etc.)


4 Writing

Write a reflection note based on the interview with the two brothers. Include the following:
  • your impression of the two brothers
  • reflections on what it is like growing up in London
  • reflections on their concerns about the future and the environment
  • similarities and differences between you and Charlie and Harry based on the clues provided above.


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