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!

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Worksheet91.53 KB

Language level

C1 English level (advanced)

Submitted by alexiamontes2004 on Fri, 01/07/2022 - 01:54


Do you celebrate your birthday?
If I celebrate it, it is one of my favorite dates. I really like to organize my birthday parties.

Submitted by jmajo on Tue, 14/06/2022 - 16:43


Although I used to do it when I was younger, I don't celebrate my birthdays any more because in my culture it has became an excuse to gather people to chat, eat and drink, I think everybody should value it's own existence at it's own sweet way every day and not at certain day in the year.

Thanks for the episode.
Great site!

Submitted by alevegaa on Fri, 10/06/2022 - 04:44


I think my birthday is the most special day for the year, I usually celebrate my birthday with my family and friends

Submitted by SusyBP on Tue, 29/03/2022 - 04:24


Well, if it's up to me to organize the party, I prefer low-key meetings with family or very close friends, since I consider myself a very shy person and I don't want to be the center of attention. Also, I am very worried about people feeling bored or uncomfortable in my house. In fact, I feel more comfortable organizing other people's parties. However, I love when others prepare something for me, even if it is simple, like my last party that was a surprise party that my boyfriend organized with my best friend and honestly I did not expect it and it felt incredible.

Submitted by vishnu_saddikuti on Thu, 02/12/2021 - 07:23


In task 1,q4, how can we say that Marco is not looking forward to his child's birthday party?

Hello vishnu_saddikuti,

Could you explain to use what you think the correct answer is and why? I think we will be able to help you better if we understand your view on the matter.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello vishnu_saddikuti,

Saying that it's a sensitive topic for him suggests that it affects his self-identity of perception of himself. Marco might be a little stressed, but more by the fact that it takes a lot of work to organise a party and the social consequences for his child.

If it's a sensitive topic for anyone in this situation, it's Charles.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by RuthYong on Thu, 14/10/2021 - 08:44


I usually celebrate my birthday with some close friends eating at luxurious restaurant. Since the pandemic and during my recent birthday, it was quite different though. My friends celebrated with me online and posted some presents for me all the way from their state.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Wed, 13/10/2021 - 10:30


I don't celebrate my birthday with friends. I'm celebrate with myself. I don't like celebrate birthdays, contacting friends.
Some friends bring cake for me on birthday and I cut with him.

Submitted by Gabriela Saavedra on Tue, 12/10/2021 - 18:15


I celebrated my birthday with a family meal and walk with my father, something low-key. But I would love to have a thematical partie with a DJ, a full-decorated spacious room for all my friends and tasty food. I'm looking forward that experience since I'm turning up 20 next year.

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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Wed, 28/04/2021 - 16:20

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. ;)

Submitted by Diogo1606 on Sun, 07/03/2021 - 23:53

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.

Submitted by Anhi on Fri, 19/02/2021 - 17:59

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.
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Submitted by El Cuy Mágico on Fri, 12/02/2021 - 21:00

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.
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Submitted by Hennadii on Wed, 20/01/2021 - 10:54

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 ))
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Submitted by Riza on Sat, 02/01/2021 - 17:20

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.
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Submitted by danisep on Wed, 09/12/2020 - 21:27

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.

Submitted by Maychin on Thu, 22/10/2020 - 16:36

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

Submitted by Cami on Fri, 02/10/2020 - 12:22

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.
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Submitted by Ivy Yang on Fri, 18/09/2020 - 16:16

I do celebrate my birthday, but not too often.

Submitted by FRANK BOTELHO on Mon, 14/09/2020 - 14:59

Birthday parties are indifferent to me. I enjoy a lot more, a discreet meeting with my family and friends, or even celebrate in adventure activities with them.

Submitted by mad-physicist on Sun, 06/09/2020 - 11:16

I never enjoyed reaching my birthday and I never celebrated it since I was 12. The reason for this is that I become shy when everyone is there for me.

Submitted by YL on Wed, 15/07/2020 - 09:18

Celebrating birthdays is a habit that is effected by more than one factor. Some individuals do it because they are self-appreciated of themselves, and they want to attract others' attention. some people practice it just to comply with their community's expectations. I think that it is good to invite friends and relatives and entertain them, but not to waste a lot of money or to behave inappropriately.

Submitted by Rae Yang on Wed, 08/07/2020 - 02:59

No,i don’t like to celebrate birthday either.

Submitted by Bloodykarry on Sat, 06/06/2020 - 13:12

All my life I was passionate about celebrating birthdays, but now, when I've turned 20 I no more find it as fascinating as it was several years ago. Beginning from 16 every birthday is grief for me. Of course, it's not because I'm getting older, it's merely because I don't accept it as something special, but still wait a lot of birthday wishes from my friends and family. However, now I became wiser, and low-key parties make me feel so special.

Submitted by yoyoraw on Tue, 12/05/2020 - 20:34

To be honest, I am not interested in birthdays that much. Like my friends always get very excited about this whole topic, and they like to arrange huge parties and invite a massive number of people . But I just prefer the exact opposite thing, which is having simple gatherings with families and friends . So, I normally celebrate my birthday, but I do not have an issue in not celebrating, and I dont care about it . hello, I want to know if this sentence is correct . (which is having simple gatherings with families and friends .) what I mean is, can i say having simple gatherings ? or should I say it in another way ?

Hello yoyoraw,

Yes, that phrasing is perfectly fine.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by kawa on Fri, 01/05/2020 - 15:36

celebrating a birthday, from my perspective, is an important occasion in human life like any other personal occasion such as a wedding, graduation from the university, however; when it becomes like a religious ceremony which should be celebrated every year I'm not for it. I assume it would be better if a person celebrates his or her birthday just in the years that he/she achieved his/her goals, graduated from the university, so one can feel that he/ she at least accomplished in that especial year something.

Submitted by Diegoratti90 on Thu, 23/04/2020 - 08:08

Birthday Party is a touchy argument for a lot of people. The lowdown Idea among teenagers lastly in Italy, is to throw a party and dinner in some place, for example in a Pizzeria, where the partied ask other people to pay for themselves the dinner! I have always hated that idea since the fact I have to pay something like 15€ for the dinner and again 10€for the birthday present. It is not too much when you work, but it is annoying and a trouble when you are a student! what do you thing?

Submitted by MORDOCAI on Tue, 21/04/2020 - 23:11

I don't like birthdays. I never celebrate my birthday.

Submitted by Milton2020 on Sun, 23/02/2020 - 06:56

I often celebrated my birthdays when i was a kid, nowadays im 25 years old and i like party yet but the things is not like before, the animation to organize a party is not the same and thinking in the effort who need to do become begin something.

Submitted by Israa Moha on Fri, 14/02/2020 - 13:18

In my hometown people rarely to make birthday parties. They believe it is a bad idea to make a party for someone just because he was born in that day, also I think for financial reasons. My grandfathers hadn't been celebrated in this day.

Submitted by hrahmani on Mon, 27/01/2020 - 16:04

I doubt if I enjoy celebrating my birthday. The first reason is that I do not like being at the centre of the attention, especially when I have not done anything important. I mean it is a date of the calendar that repeats once a year even if I am the worst human being on the earth. Furthermore, I have hard time to convince myself that my birthday is an important event for a celebration. Therefore, I find it a day like other days of the year in the calendar! My mother tried a few times to motivate me to go for it but she could not succeed. Finally, she gave it up observing my lack of motivation!

Submitted by Mozani on Fri, 20/12/2019 - 14:27

In my country, birthdays aren't often taken so seriously. Whenever some people of different ages don't want to celebrate their birthday, it's up to them. I wouldn't mind really.

Submitted by Mahmoud Samir on Mon, 09/12/2019 - 17:15

i think birthday is not the terrible thing that we should carry about, the idea is to make people happier and much connected to each other; besides the blessing moments that couldn't be forgotten later

Submitted by HelianG on Thu, 05/12/2019 - 19:26

I don't like birthdays overall,neither celebrate my own birthday nor someone's else,I think birthdays are embarrassing,I'd rather stay at home like a normal day.
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Submitted by Steve Zarv on Mon, 18/11/2019 - 16:23

overally, as far as I'm concerned, celebrating my birthday is something I comdemn partially, being that it plunges me into the pressure of the self-assessment of my value as person. Since I have always neglected my social life, I ended up with a lack of social skills which doesn't allow me to arouse someone's interest. I can't help but feeling miserable when seeing how I've been getting the label of "embittered" over time, thus, assesing such prospects, I had no other choise but endorsing it. Therefore, when it comes to celebrating my own birthday I just tell my family that I'll celebrate it with my friends, and instead, I go to a little patch I have as my hiding place and take a while just listening to music and reflecting about my life.

Submitted by MATHILDA ELINE… on Thu, 19/09/2019 - 11:41

I have completed the following lessons of A Job Interview, A Project Management Project, and Birthday Parties. The level that I chose was Advanced C1 Listening

Submitted by ram123654 on Wed, 18/09/2019 - 15:24

As far as my birthday celebration is concerned, it was never celebrated. Culturally my family wasn't aware of such celebration when I was born in 1995. Being a middle class family, my parents spent their time in villages, I think this may have been the reason. However, we live in a city now

Submitted by eleh on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 17:55

I'd like to celebrate my birthday with my husband. We go to the restaurant, eat delicious food and drink our favourite drinks. Sometimes I try to have a vacation for this day.

Submitted by afieqahhh on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 08:28

I realise that listening exercise harder than writing exercise which is I must be fully focus listening the task and writing the point to understand what they are talking about and to answer the questions.

Submitted by Moe Kyaw on Sat, 31/08/2019 - 15:34

I have tried it and I think I could not read while I am listening. I come to know it because I don't understand what I read while listening. Plz help me and give some advice. Thanks in advance.

Hello Moe Kyaw,

For many people reading and listening at the same time is helpful, but people learn in different ways and if you find it distracting then there is no requirement for you to work this way. Experiment and try first listening and then reading, or first reading and then listening. See what technique is most productive for you. There is no one way to learn, after all.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by nikoslado on Thu, 27/06/2019 - 20:13

Dear Team I realise, reading and thinking carefully what the three discussants say and what the Task 1 requires as a correct option, that there're different answers from the suggested ones.What your opinion is about that, do I have some right?
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Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 28/06/2019 - 08:56

In reply to by nikoslado


Hello nikoslado

I suppose that is possible. If you have a specific interpretation for a specific question in mind, we're happy to help you with it.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Hoàng Nhung on Thu, 27/06/2019 - 10:00

I have used the online dictionary to find out the meaning of a new word. I don't celebrate my birthday. I only want to celebrate my nieces's birthdays.

Submitted by Tai le on Mon, 24/06/2019 - 23:02

Dear! To whom may I concern about I just want to know the meaning ( at the risk of restarting...,.) Best regards Tai