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Birthday parties

Listen to a conversation about birthday parties between three friends to practise and improve your listening skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.


Marco: The big four-oh, Charles!

Dora: Oh!! It's your 40th!

Marco: Are you planning a party?

Charles: Nah, I never celebrate birthdays. I don't see why this one should be any different.

Dora: Why not?

Charles: First, you know me, I can't be bothered with the hassle. It's my birthday but I'm supposed to do all the hard work – contacting people, finding a venue, organising food, worrying who will show up. No, thanks.

Marco: Ah, someone's angling for a surprise party, eh, Dora? 

Charles: Marco, stop! Even worse. Having to pretend to be delighted 50 people just sprang up in your living room when you thought you were coming home to put your feet up. Probably having a heart attack at the shock.

Dora: Note to self: never to organise you a surprise party. OK then!

Marco: You've got to do something, though, Charles. It's your 40th.

Charles: Why? What's so great about getting old?

Dora: Er … still being here to have your birthday?

Marco: Yeah, 'Ageing is better than the alternative', as they say.

Dora: Yeah, and it's true – so why not celebrate?

Charles: You guys can have parties for your 40ths if you like. I just don't go in for that kind of self-indulgent attention-seeking.

Dora: Wow, that's a bit harsh! I had a huge bash for my 30th. And you came. And enjoyed yourself if I recall. Are you trying to say I was just doing it for attention?

Charles: Not exactly … but … well … at least a small part of you must have been.

Dora: Remind me not to invite you to my 40th then, so you won't have to put up with my huge ego while I feed you and provide free drinks all night because I thought we were friends. 

Charles: I meant, er, I mean, not all attention-seeking is bad. It's just not my style is all.

Dora: Whereas it is mine?

Marco: Anyway ...

Charles: I didn't say that!

Dora: Er, yes, yes, you did. You said celebrating birthdays is self-indulgent and ...

Marco: Guys, guys! Who knew birthdays was such a touchy subject? Speaking of which, I have to sort out my nine-year-old’s party the weekend after next.

Charles: Now, that's a party I'd love to organise.

Marco: Really? It's a nightmare. It's not like when we were kids. Now you have to take them all rock-climbing or hire a make-up artist to come and teach them how to look like a zombie or a film star. And there'd be trouble if someone else in school had the same kind of party and your kid gets accused of copying. That fear you said about no one turning up? It's a million times worse when you're scared your kid is going to have no one turn up.

Charles: Is there that much pressure?

Marco: Yeah, it's crazy. Last year, I got it right with a cinema trip. Simple, but always a winner. But we can't do the same thing again apparently. It says it in my 'Official Laws for 9-Year-Olds' book.

Charles: That's a pity. I've got so many fond memories of birthday parties as a kid. Party food and games and watching cartoons until your parents arrived.

Marco: Trust me, your parents were stressing out!

Dora: At the risk of restarting the argument, when do you think you stopped enjoying birthdays then?

Charles: I dunno really … somewhere around moving away from home and getting a job and being a grown-up. I don't mean birthdays are immature. I mean, it takes a while to make new friends and so birthdays just become more low-key and it's drinks with a couple of friends or dinner or something. And I just got out of the habit, I guess. Maybe I just need to have a kids-style party like we used to have! Play musical chairs and eat pineapple and cheese on sticks and all that.

Dora: Very retro. I bet people would love that.

Marco: Yeah, they would. Well, I would anyway. And maybe it'll catch on with my kids and it'll start a new party trend.

Charles: You've got me thinking … it's not a terrible idea. Maybe I will have a party this year!



Language level

Advanced: C1


When I was a kid, my mother used to throw my birthday party at home inviting my school students. I was not used to being a center of a party. ;)

I do, but it's not something big. Sometimes my family buys or makes a cake for me and my twin brother, sometimes I just get a shirt. But I like going on birthday parties to eat some candies and chocolate cakes.

I usually like to do something special on my bday, not necessarly a party but spending the day with the right people like friends and family and giving myself a treat. Of course who doesnt like a nice cake or a present, but it is not the most important thing.

Jajaj I agree with Charles, I also prefer to have dinner or a small meeting just with my parents, family or close friends. I agree with the idea that when you grow up it difficult to you to find real friends and your friends list get reduced.

Actually, I don't make a party at my birthdays. No, I don't agree with Charles about self-indulgent and attention-seeking. I just want to be with my family this day, enjoy some delicious food and drink. Maybe, because my birthday is in March? We often have terrible weather in March here - cold, rainy and dirty. I remember I once had a picnic on my birthday. It was sunny and warm, we went into the forest near the reaver and made barbeque and had fun. But it's rare to have such a lovely day at the beginning of the spring.
Another reason, why I don't organize parties at my birthday is my elder son has his birthday four days before mine. And here I totally agree with Marco - there's nothing worth than a kid's birthday. It's so stressful and energy-sapping event so I just can't imagine having two parties a week ))

Unfortunately, I am like Charles, prefer to be in the background. I used to have a big, fancy parties in my childhood, and it was always organised by my parents. Nowadays, as a grown-up I enjoy celebrating only among my family and close friends.

Celebrate no. My brothers come to my house on my birthday and we buy some food and watch a movie, something like that. something chill. I don't pay a lot of attention to my birthday. to me it’s not about celebrating one more year, instead to celebrate achievement, when it reach a goal or accomplish a personal challenge through the year. it is good to celebrate personal and short accomplishments.

I only celebrated my birthday party once in my life.I did remember all the details about this party.I reveived a birthday cake and other presents on this day.At first I did not know who send these things to me.After one hour later my ex boyfriend called me on phone and told about the presents he send to me.I was pleased to see a lovely birthday cake and some cosmetics as my first birthday presents.I will never forget that beautiful memory although he is not my boyfriend any longer.
Please correct my mistakes if you find out them.I am looking forward gettinh feedback from your team.Thank you!

Hello Maychin,

Thank you for your comment. It sounds like a great birthday!


I'm afraid we don't correct user posts on LearnEnglish, though we do read every one. We have many thousands of users and we are a small team here. It's just not possible for us to correct posts.



The LearnEnglish Team

When I was young, I used to celebrate almost every year my birthday. Now, that I am 28, I like celebrating my birthday according to my humour, for example if I prefer celebrating it with only few people I organize a party with only my besties, if, instead, i feel to celebrate with more people, i organize a party with not only my besties.