Flashcards for Jobs and Occupations

Welcome to our fifth Flashcard Friday post where we’ll give you ideas and invite suggestions for using flashcards in the classroom. As all teachers know, there is more to using flashcards than flashing pictures before your students’ eyes.

Flashcards for Jobs and Occupations

Jobs and Occupations FlashcardsWill you be teaching a unit on Jobs and Occupations this year? Many textbooks cover this theme, and if you’ve been teaching for a long time, you may be bored with the occupations that are used as examples. The ESL-Library flashcards include more than just the everyday examples you see in most textbooks. Our Jobs and Occupations collection have images such as bricklayer, tailor, and foreman.   Games like hot seat, pictionary, and charades are always fun to play with flashcards. Here are some other activities you can do with this collection. You may want to print the cards with and without the words on the bottom so that you can try some of the different suggestions.

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Compare and Contrast (full size flashcards)

Print out full page versions of some of the flashcards from the collection, such as the ones listed below:

  • Delivery Person /Letter carrier
  • Musician / Artist
  • Seamstress/ Tailor
  • Data Processor / Computer Programmer
  • Model/Photographer

Hold the cards up and have students shout out differences about these jobs. What is similar about these jobs? What is different?

Best and Worst Part of my Job

This game is a slight adaptation of the typical “Who am I?” game. Tape a job flashcard to each student’s back. Tell the students they are at a job fair. Have the workers go around the room asking other workers what the best and worst part of their job is.
For example:
A: What’s the worst part of my job? (artist card on her back)
B: Hmm. Well it is a pretty messy job. The worst part is all of the clean up you have to do.
A: Okay, what’s the best part?
B: The best part is that you get to be creative. You do what you love for a living. Lucky you!

After hearing from one student, the student can guess or keep asking other students to weigh in. If she guesses correctly, tape a new card to her back. Continue for 10 minutes or so. Then decide who had the best job and who had the worst job at the job fair.

Correct the Flashcards

The ESL-Library system allows you to change the default type that appears under the flashcards. (see last week’s video tip) You can make a set with all of the wrong words. Then have your students cut the words off (or cross the words out) and write the correct word. Or, have students practise making corrections out loud. For example: “This card says it is a baker, but it is actually a barber. A baker flashcard would show a man or woman with an apron and a puffy white hat. The baker would be holding a tray of cupcakes. ” For higher level learners, you can change the action instead of the word. For example, type “The baker is putting the buns in the oven.” under the card and have students correct the action by describing what is really shown on the card.

The Main Verb (large version flashcards)

Hold up large versions of the flashcards as you play this game. Choose a flashcard and show it to the class. Tell the class to shout out verbs (base form) that would best go with the occupation. Write down the words in small groupings on the board as they are shouted out. (Dismiss any that don’t make sense, but allow students to defend their verbs.) After 5 verbs have been offered,  have a debate about which one is the most important.
For example: Police Officer
A: Protect!
B: Arrest!
C: Help!
A: Drive around!
D: Observe!
Teacher: Which one is the most important?
A: Help!
B: I think “arrest” is more important?

…continue the debate. Take a vote if you can’t decide. Then move on to a new occupation. As a follow up, go back to the words on the board and try to remember which job the verbs went with.

The Meeting

Place students in small groups of 3 to 5. Give each student a job flashcard. Now, tell these students to imagine they all live in a townhouse complex together. There is a problem at the townhouse complex and the people have to work together to solve it. Students have to argue their point of view from the perspective of their occupation. Have the students think of some problems or use the ideas below.

Problem #1 – People are not obeying the parking rules.
Problem #2 – There is too much trash in the common area.
Problem #3 – The summer block party is coming up. No one has agreed to organize it.

Go around the class and listen to what the students are talking about. Challenge your students by saying, “Why would an artist think that way? Why would a truck driver care about that?”. Randomly hand out new flashcards to students if they do not seem to enjoy their character or if they look like they need a bigger challenge.

Create your Own Quizzes, Materials, and Presentations

Do you want to create your own quizzes, presentations, and materials for your Jobs and Occupations unit? Here’s how you can use our flashcards for this purpose. Please remember to respect the ESL-Library copyright rules and only use our images for classroom purposes.

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Missing Flashcards

Work together as a class to brainstorm all of the types of jobs you can think of that aren’t in our flashcard set. Allow students to search for translations. Have each student create one extra flashcard to go with our collection. Students can draw the card or use a magazine image or an image from a Creative Commons set. Share your ideas with ESL-Library by adding your list of missing occupations in the comments below. We’ll consider adding these jobs to our collection for next year.


Lay out all of the flashcards on a big table or floor space. Have the class group the flashcards into sets that would be found in a classified section. Don’t tell the students what the typical groupings are. Help them if they can’t think of the right word, or offer them a newspaper to look through. Here are some typical groupings found in classified sections:

  • Hospitality
  • Sales
  • Domestic Help
  • Technology
  • Education
  • Service
  • Medical
  • Transportation
  • Government
  • Office/Administrative
  • Entertainment
  • Trades

As a follow up or homework assignment, have students search for (or write) a classified ad for one of the flashcards. Put all of the cards into a box or envelope and have the students choose one.

Flashcard Field Trip

Head out for a walk with your class on a nice day. Give yourselves one hour. Bring a large envelope with all of the flashcards in it. Hand out all of the flashcards to your students (more than one per student is fine) and tell your students they have to try to spot places where people from the flashcards might be working. Each time they spot a place where a person from a card is working they can come up to you and try to give you their card. They have to explain why they think that person might be working in that building or store. For example, if they spot a studio or art gallery, they can point to it and tell you that an “artist” works in a studio. If they spot a school, they can hand you the “custodian” card and say that a custodian cleans a school. How many cards can the class get rid of in one hour? Which ones didn’t you find?

About ESL-Library Flashcards

The ESL-Library flashcards can be printed with or without words. You can also print them in different sizes and in colour or black and white. If you have young learners, print them in black and white and have them colour the flashcards. Watch a demo of the ESL-Library’s Flashcard Library. If you haven’t seen our flashcards, be sure to check them out! Our flashcards are drawn by professional artists who have worked with our team for many years. The flashcards are available in English, French, and Spanish. If there is a flashcard set you need that is not in our library, please contact us.

Related Job and Occupation content in the ESL-Library
At Work and In the Office (More Flashcard Sets)
Living in English -Employment Unit (Sample available)
Discussion Starter – Dream Jobs
Everyday Dialogues – Job Interview
Office Life – 14 Lessons

Please share your own ideas, lessons, and activities related to Jobs and Occupations.


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