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This free ESL lesson plan on jobs has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

Apart from a lucky few, most people need a job to survive and have a good life. Some people love their job, while others hate their job. In the past, jobs were so important in defining a person that many of our surnames actually come from professions. These days, too many people see their job not as something that defines them or provides value, but simply as the thing they do between weekends. In this ESL lesson plan on jobs, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as their experiences and motivations in their job, what the best jobs are and the value of jobs to society.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for International Quit Your Crappy Job Day, a tongue-in-cheek observation which takes place in March. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.


Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

Inc | 9 Sad Reasons People Stay in Jobs They Don’t Like

The article looks at the reasons people stay in jobs they hate including the fear that their situation may get worse if they leave, the disappoint it would give to their parents and because they like their title. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was said? Can they think of any other reasons?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. There are intermediate listening questions and advanced listening questions so teachers can decide which would be more appropriate for their students. Check the answers in the class.

The video for this class is called “How to Find Fulfilling Work” by The School of Life which asks philosophical questions about how our jobs can fulfil us.


The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including what their job is and why they chose it, what they enjoy and dislike about their job, and what would make them quit.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with jobs such as career break, career ladder and dead-end job. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about jobs. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the best and worst jobs in the world, how easy it is to get a job in their country and which jobs will not exist in the future.


After the class, students will write about their opinion of jobs. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.


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