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Grow Up - Weird Al Yankovic
Grow Up - Weird Al Yankovic English, baby! Video Lesson

Musical Funny-man Teaches English

Date: Jan 31 2011

Themes: Music, Work

Grammar: Phrasal Verbs


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Children are often told, “You can be anything you want to be when you grow up.” If that were truly the case, there would be a lot more ballerinas and astronauts. But it’s never too soon or too late to start dreaming about your career.

Weird Al Yankovic is famous for changing the words of hit songs to make them funnier. For instance, Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” becomes “Eat It” and the song is about food. Al also writes original music, has appeared on TV and in films and most recently is the author of a book for children called When I Grow Up.

We recently sat down with Al to talk about what it means to “grow up” and his unusual career.

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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.





Jason:  Alright! Welcome to English, baby! How are you today?

Al:  I’m well, Jason, thank you so much for asking. I appreciate your concern for my well-being.

Jason:  Oh good! You’ve got a children’s book coming out real soon. Can you tell us about that?

Al:  It’s a book for kids, it’s a picture book. It’s basically a story about a kid who goes to show and tell and he sort of has an overactive imagination, and he just kinda riffs on all the cool and amazing things he wants to be when he grows up.

Jason:  “Grow up” is, like, a pretty common idiom, and it can also be kind of an insult. You know, you can say to somebody “Grow up!” Can you tell us what that means, to, like, tell someone to grow up?

Al:  Well, that particular phrase probably means that you’re being immature. That you need to be a little more adult-like in your social conventions. In my case though, it was more about talking about what professions this kid wants to be when he’s older. When he’s an adult and he has to make his own living. So, it talks about the various vocations he’s considering.

Jason:  So, did you want to be a comedian and a musician when you grew up, or did you have other ambitions at a young age?

Al:  Truthfully, when I was a kid I was a little more realistic. I never really thought that I’d be able to make a living doing the kind of thing I’m doing now. I always thought, well, I’ll probably have to have a real job. In fact, when I was twelve years old, I decided I was going to be an architect. Because I had some aptitudes in math, and I was pretty artistic and I loved my drafting class. And I thought, well, you know, I can design things and, you know, get my art out that way. And I found out in college that I was OK, but I… wasn’t passionate about it and I wasn’t…more talented than the other kids in school. I was average at best. And I thought, well, gosh, do I wanna be going through my life being mediocre? I’d rather, you know, be excited about something and, you know, be at the head of my field. So it was kind of a strange time for me because I graduated college with a degree I was pretty sure I was never going to use. Thankfully I got a few lucky breaks and now I get to be Weird Al for a living!

Jason:  Alright! When you’re being Weird Al for a living, is there anyone in your life who has said, like, “Weird Al, you need to grow up!” You know?

Al:  Probably…certainly not in the last few decades. No, I mean, my parents were always very supportive. They basically always said whatever I wanted to do. They realized that I wasn’t just a goof-off. I was a valedictorian in my high school, I was a straight A student. If I wanted to take a stab at show business it wasn’t some kind of flighty impulse that I hadn’t put any thought into, it was something that I really wanted to make an honest effort at.

Jason:  Well, thanks so much, Weird Al! Can I get you to give me a high five and say “English, baby!”?

Al:  English, baby!


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In Weird Al’s new book, When I Grow Up, a young boy imagines all of the different things he could do when he is an adult and has a job. When Al was younger, he thought about becoming an architect because he was good at math. But soon he realized he was better at entertaining than at designing buildings so devoted himself to being Weird Al.

If you think someone is acting childishly or immature, you can say, “Why don’t you grow up.” It’s a mean thing to say, but sometimes people need to be reminded to act like adults. Although Weird Al is very silly on stage, no one has told him to “grow up” for a long time because he is good at what he does.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Purchase When I Grow Up here.



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When I was in primary school our teacher asked us "What do you want to be when you grew up?" Most of student said, "A teacher!". Me too. Because we don't have enaugh imformation about jobs. We just knew our teacher.

Then I grew up, I became a high school student and I decided to be an astronomer. (not astronaut). But I became a science teacher. I like science too but astronomy is different.

But I know that I will never give up!! 

02:57 PM Jan 31 2011 |



Bosnia and Herzegovina

If u give up from your dream what else u can expect to happen ?

12:19 PM Jan 31 2011 |


Iran, Islamic Republic Of

I was not ever thinking about what I could be in the future in my childhood for real.

until I had to choose when I grew up before going to college.

But now I'm not ever going back toward any other field even if I get a liking for other fields.

Though I might stink or just be an average in my field.I'll just keep trying to become what I wanted to be.without taking back my words.

Because you have to continue so you master something.If Al had liked to be an architect then he had to go for it more and more until he could do it the best.


10:30 AM Jan 31 2011 |



Russian Federation

Sometimes I read lectures at the university in which I got my professional education. It's not my main job, it's more like a hobby. All you need is education and a degree.

As for my dreams when I was a child I wanted to be a football or soccer player. It was my real passion. But my dream didn't come true. Unfortunetly not in this life.  

08:45 AM Jan 31 2011 |




 as a child or even a college student, i thought i could be a teacher in university, but now i am not , still with the same ideal…..but how?

05:29 AM Jan 31 2011 |

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