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Useful English vocabulary for talking about your first day at work!

Talking about your job in English

 Can you remember your first day at work?

What was it like?

It’s never easy starting at a new job. There are lots of things to learn. And you need to find out where everything is and how things work. On top of that, there are lots of new people to meet. Now, imagine having to start a new job in an English-speaking company!

You’d need lots of useful language. But don’t worry. Just to help you, in this lesson we’ll teach you some useful English vocabulary for talking about your first day at work!

First, you’ll learn some useful expressions. Then, you can watch a video with two people talking about Meg’s first day at work. This will really help you improve your listening skills. Plus, you’ll learn lots of useful work and business English!


Before watching the video, make sure you understand these useful expressions for talking about work.

Make a phone call

To use your phone to talk to someone: “I made 3 calls yesterday.”

Talk to someone

If someone “talks to” you about something, they discuss that thing with you, or tell

you about it: “The boss wants to talk to you about the new project.”

Keep your head down

If you “keep your head down”, you try to remain invisible, and hope that no one notices you: “When they ask for volunteers, keep your head down or they’ll choose you!”

To be busy

If you’re “busy”, you have a lot of work to do; if you “look busy”, you act as if you have a lot of work to do (even if you don’t): “When the boss comes in, look busy!”

Stay on someone’s good side

To make sure that everyone (especially the boss) is always pleased and happy with you: “You need to stay on the boss’ good side if you want to get the best jobs.”

Stay clear of something

If you “stay clear of something”, you don’t go near it; you can also “stay clear of” a conversation or particular topic: “Stay clear of Petra in the morning as she’s always in a really bad mood.”

Office gossip

“Gossip” refers to conversations about the private lives of office employees: “We talked about all the latest office gossip, especially the rumours that Pete and Jenny were dating.”

Listening 1

You’re going to listen to a conversation with two people talking about this topic. Watch it once. How useful is the advice the woman gives? Rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best).

PS It’s important to listen once without stopping. While doing this, you should try to understand as much as you can. Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything – just try to get the gist of what they say (a general understanding of it).

Listening 2

Listen again and answer the questions.
1 What type of company is Meg working for?
2 What does Polly say about the boss, Patty?
3 What should Meg do if Patty walks by?
4 Where does Fred work?
5 What bad thing does Fred do?
6 What does Polly say about gossip in the office?

Listening 3

Now listen and read the script at the same time (see below for the script). This will really improve your listening skills as you’ll see the relationship between the spoken and written words.


In pairs, take turns giving each other advice for the first day at work. Ask questions too related to the advice your friend gives you.

Audio script

Meg     So, any tips for working here? I’ve never worked for an advertising agency before.
Polly   Well, you’re going to be just fine, everybody here is really, really lovely to work with. [Good.] For the most part, but the boss, Patty, she’s wonderful, she’s really diligent, but stay on her good side. [OK.] I’d say for the first couple of weeks. [Yeah.] Actually, don’t ask too many questions, [OK.] keep your head down, [Got it.] if she walks by make it look like you’re busy, even if you don’t have anything to do.
Meg     Got it. OK.
Polly   Erm, who else can I tell you about? Oh, Fred, Fred who works in marketing, he will once in a while steal your food [Really?] if you put something in the fridge. It’s kind of a problem, we’ve had to talk with him about it.
Meg     Yeah, that’s frustrating.
Polly   And I would also say, keep out of the gossip. There’s a lot of gossip that goes on around here. Maybe stay out of it, especially for the first few weeks until you get your feet wet.
Meg     Yeah, I’m not one to gossip anyway, so I’m sure I’ll be able to stay clear of that.
Polly   Good, I’m not either, I always try to avoid it, so…
Meg     Absolutely.
Polly   But, other than that, don’t let this scare you, this is a really good place to be, so you’re going to be fine.
Meg     I’m really excited, it seems like a great place to work.
Polly   It is, it’s really nice, you should be, you should be excited so…
Meg     Thank you!
Polly   Yeah, anytime.


  1. What type of company is Meg working for? An advertising agency
  2. What does Polly say about the boss, Patty? That she’s wonderful
  3. What should Meg do if Patty walks by? She should look like she’s busy
  4. Where does Fred work? In marketing
  5. What bad thing does Fred do occasionally? He sometimes steals food from the fridge
  6. What does Polly say about gossip in the office? That there’s a lot of it, and that Meg shouldn’t join in

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