Number one for English language teachers

IELTS set two - speaking parts 1

Type: Teaching notes

Talking about work and careers and expanding vocabulary.

Time: 40 minutes +
Language focus: Talking about work / careers
Materials: A piece of scrap paper for making simple Job title role cards

This activity focuses on expanding the students’ vocabulary for a chosen topic. On this occasion I’ve chosen the topic of work. The activity is aimed to help students prepare for all parts of the speaking test.

A note about the IELTS speaking paper
Examiner asks candidates general questions e.g. about their home country, job, free time etc.

Candidate has a minute to prepare a monologue to speak for one to two minutes on a topic which is written on a topic card given to the candidate to read e.g. talk about a film you have seen, describe a personal possession that is important to you, talk about a country you would like to visit etc.

Discussion questions connected to part 2 topic, candidate required to give opinion and speculate.


Stage 1

Write about twenty words and phrases on the board which you think would be appropriate for your students associated with the topic of work e.g.

to be made redundant work unsocial hours secure commute a bonus
relocation package perks of the job work on commission climb the career ladder job prospects
company pension scheme steady 9 – 9 caring work long hours
physically demanding stressful outdoors get promoted professional

Stage 2

Students work in pairs to categorise words into two columns depending on whether the students think the word/phrase has a positive or negative connotation. Pairwork is particularly useful here as students will often teach each other new words.

Redundant Perks of the job


Stage 3

After exercise get feedback and discuss each word / phrase with examples as appropriate to clarify meaning. Encourage students to give personal examples from their own work experience or expectations of different jobs. You may find differing opinions as to whether a word has negative or positive connotation. This may depend on personal experience.

Stage 4

In pairs students talk for a couple of minutes about their own job (or job ambitions) attempting to integrate some of the new vocabulary. Give the students a minute to think about what they are going to say and let them make notes if they wish, (as in part 2 of the speaking test).

Stage 5

After the above activity give each student a scrap of paper (role card) with a job written on it e.g. vet, farmer, astronaut, actor, teacher etc. Tell the students that they must keep the information on the card secret.

Stage 6

Working in small groups students describe the jobs from the role card to each other trying to include some of the vocabulary presented at the beginning of the lesson. Allow students some time to think about how they are going to describe the job before speaking. Explain to them not to make it too obvious what the job is so as to make the task more challenging to the other students in the group. Demonstrate the task to the students by preparing your own description e.g.

"This job is inside and generally 9 – 5. It is a very professional job and requires a university education. I believe that the salary is very good but I also think that the job is physically and mentally demanding. I expect that the job is very secure because these professionals are in demand. We are supposed to go and see such a person on a regular basis, perhaps every six months but nobody likes going to see them especially children. I personally wouldn’t like this job as I would find it very stressful." Other students in the group have to guess what the job is.


  • Question: What is the job?
  • Answer: Dentist

Stage 7

Follow up class discussion questions (preparation for part 3 of the speaking paper) e.g.

  • What would be your dream job and why?
  • What did you want to be when you were a child?
  • How do you think working practices will change in the future?
  • Do you think recent technological developments make us more productive in our work?

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