If you’re looking for jobs ESL games and activities, along with lesson plans, worksheets, vocabulary lists and more for occupations or careers, then you’re certainly in the right place. Keep on reading for all the details you need to know about ESL occupations activities.
ESL Jobs Activities
Let’s get into the best ESL job, occupation and work activities and games to try out in your classes today.
#1: Jobs Running Dictation Game
A fun, challenging, 4-skills ESL activity is running dictation. It’s ideal for any topic including careers. Find (or write) a conversation between two people who are talking about their jobs, or their dream job in the future. Then, students have to work together to dictate the conversation and when they’ve done that, put the conversation into the correct order.
Want to give it a try with your students? Find out all the details you need to know:
#2: Careers and Occupations ESL Board Game
In real life, I love to play board games. I also like to design some for my students to play in class about whatever topic we’re talking about, including jobs. It’s super easy to make your own game in just a few minutes once you get the hang of it.
For all the tips, tricks and ideas for how to do this, be sure to check this out:
#3: Hot Potato Game
If you want to create some fun and excitement in your TEFL classes for kids, then considering playing Hot Potato. There is nothing else like it!
The way it works is that students have to pass around a potato (or another object) until the music stops or the timer goes off. Whoever is holding the object has to do a task of some kind. In this case, the best thing would be to have some flashcards with jobs on them. Then, students might have to do the following:
- Say the job on the card
- Tell you a task that the person on the job has to do
- Spell out the job on the card
Want to give it a try? Find out all the details here:
#4: Hidden Picture Jobs Game
#5: Choose your Own Adventure Group Writing Activity
Group writing activities for English learners are few and far between. However, choose your own adventure is a good one that you’ll want to try out. In this case, relate it to various job options. Or, some choices that someone might make doing a certain job. It’s a fun activity to try out at least once a semester with your students! Find out how to do it:
#6: ESL Job Role Plays
A fun way to teach students about occupations and jobs is to do some role-plays. For example, students can take turns taking an order in a restaurant or helping a picky customer in a store. Or, negotiating a business deal.
This works even better if students are learning English for a specific purpose. For example, English for aviation or for nursing. Then, you can tailor the role-plays to the specific needs of the students.
#7: Telephone ESL Game for Kids
A fun way to review new vocabulary like occupations is to play telephone. You may have done it when you were a kid. The way it works is that students have to pass a message along down the line secretly and then compare what they have at the end with the original. It’s fun and the results are usually hilarious. Try it out:
#8: Jobs and Occupations ESL Game
#9: Chain Spelling Jobs Game
A fun way to review key vocabulary words is to have students play this spelling game. The way it works is that all the students have to stand up and then you say a vocab word. Students have to spell it out, letter by letter and if someone misses, they sit down and are “out.” The game continues until only 1 or 2 people are left standing. Find out more about it:
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 76 Pages - 11/28/2015 (Publication Date)
#10: Jobs Bingo
Who doesn’t love ESL Bingo, right? Right. However, doesn’t it the same old way where you just say a word and students cross it off from their sheet doesn’t have a ton of educational value. Instead, make it more challenging by pumping up the listening and speaking elements. Find out how I do it:
#11: What Am I Speaking and Listening Activity for Jobs
You may have played this game at a party where you get a secret person taped to your back and then you have to ask questions to people to find out who it is. In this case, though, use jobs with your students. Also, be sure to have some extras for people who finish very quickly.
Learn more about it here: What Am I ESL Speaking Activity.
#12: Task-Based Jobs Activities
I love to include some task-based ESL activities in my classes. In this case, a nice idea is to put students into groups and have them choose a job. Then, they can do some research about that job including some of the following:
- average salary
- educational requirements
- working hours
Then, they can make a short presentation to the class about that job.
#13: ESL Jobs Charades
A fun way to review new job words is to play charades. Students have to act out a job and then their team has to guess what it is. It’s fun, interesting and students usually love it. Have a look here for all the details you need to know:
#14: Jobs Song for Kids
If you teach children, then you’ll definitely want to include some songs and chants when teaching some new vocabulary words. If you’re not musical though (like me!), then not to worry. YouTube is the source of all good things English songs for kids! Here’s just one example:
#15: English Conversation Questions
If you tell students to talk about jobs or occupations for a certain length of time, you may well be met with silence! Instead, it’s better to give students a list of questions that they can talk about with a partner or small group. Of course, encourage a free-flowing conversation but it’s always a good idea for students to have something to refer to in case they get stuck.
For more details about that, have a look here:
#16: Using Job Flashcards
When teaching kids, I almost never go to class without a stack of related flashcards! There are just so many activities and games you can do with them and jobs is one of those vocabulary sets that work particularly well with this. Find out all the ideas:
#17: Dialogue Substitution
New words are often introduced through dialogue in many ESL textbooks. But, you may have noticed that students just tend to blow through these without really paying close attention to what they’re reading. A better solution is to remove some of the key words so it turns an easy reading exercise into one that deals with meaning as well.
Sounds like exactly what you need to do with your students? Here’s how:
#18: Picture Prompt ESL Warmer
Unless you’re teaching absolute beginners, chances are that most of your students already know at least a few different jobs. Some of them may even know a lot of them. In this case, it can be helpful to get your students to activate their prior knowledge about this topic so that new words are more memorable.
One way to do this is with a picture that has lots of different jobs in it. Then, elicit some ideas from students about what they see.
#19: Just a Minute
If you teach more advanced students, try out this challenging but fun ESL speaking activity. Students have to talk for an entire minute about their dream job (or current job) without stopping. The other students in their group have to listen carefully and then ask 1-2 follow-up questions each based on what they heard.
Want to know more? Check it out here:
You may have played this game before. You have to describe a word but not use a group of related words. I’ve modified this a little bit to make it easier for my English learners.
It’s the perfect way to get students to describe jobs to their classmates who have to guess what it is. Learn more here:
#21: ESL Occupations Discussion
Whenever I teach higher-level students, I like to include some discussion time in my lessons. However, maybe you’ve had the same experience as me? If you tell students to, “talk about jobs for 5 minutes,” it can fall kind of flat. There just isn’t enough structure.
If you want to have better small group discussions about occupations and jobs, then consider these helpful tips:
#22: Dictogloss Occuputations Game
Try out this challenging listening activity with higher-level students. Find, or write a passage that contains lots of the target vocabulary or grammatical structures. In this case, use lots of occupations.
Then, put students into pairs and read it out at a faster than normal pace. Students can take notes about what they hear and compare with their partner to try to recreate what they heard. Read it again and students add more to what they have. Finally, they can compare what they have with the original passage.
Sounds fun? Here are all the details:
#23: Would you Rather ESL Occupations Activity
This is a simple activity that can be used to generate some conversation. Make up a bunch of would you rather questions related to work and jobs. For example:
- Would you rather be a teacher or a truck driver?
- Would you rather work with people or computers?
Or, students can make their own questions. Then, students can talk with a partner or small group about their answers.
#24: Just One Question
This is a survey style activity that gets students talking to their classmates and moving around the classroom. It’s ideal for the unit on work, jobs or occupations. In the end, students have to compile their results and report to the class what they found out.
Try it out and I’m sure your students will love it as much as mine. Have a look here:
#25: Comparative and Superlative Adjective Activities
Words like most dangerous, easiest, most difficult, more interesting, dirtier, best are commonly used to describe jobs. That’s what makes occupations and comparative and superlative adjectives a natural match for each other. They’re often combined in ESL textbooks, or it’s possible to design a lesson with these two things together.
Check out some of the top ideas:
ESL Jobs Vocabulary List
There are a number of common vocabulary words related to jobs, occupations or careers. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- computer programmer
- factory worker
- office worker
- police officer
- postal carrier
- real estate agent
- repair person
- tech support
Career ESL Lesson Plans
I’m sure you like to save time when lesson planning, right? The best way to do this is to find some solid ESL jobs lesson plans to just print off and take to class. Here are some of the best ones related to careers and occupations:
ESL Occupations and Jobs Worksheets
An easy way to save a ton of time is to use some job work sheets that other teachers have made. Here are some of our top picks:
Did you like these ESL Jobs Activities and Games?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 57 Pages - 10/26/2015 (Publication Date)
Yes? Thought so, Then you’re going to love this book over on Amazon: 39 ESL Vocabulary Activities for Teenagers and Adults. The key to better ESL classes is a wide variety of interesting and interactive games and activities and this book will help you do that in style.
You can easily find the book in both digital and print formats. Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide. Or, consider taking the e-version with you on any device with the free Kindle reading app. It really is that easy to plan better ESL vocabulary lessons.
Head over to Amazon to find out all the details you need to know about the book:
Have your Say about Jobs ESL
What’s your top pick for a job activity or game for English learners? It is one of the options from this list or do you have another one that you’d like to recommend. Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2021-02-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API