work, work, workThe Workplace is a different place for everyone. After we stop going to school we enter the 'real world', which consists of being a grown-up and living in the workplace. Another name for your workplace is 'your job'. Some people consider 'your job' to be another way to define you. We are often asked, "What do you do?" when people want to know about you.

It's important to remember that what we do isn't who we are.

Because we spend a lot of time doing our work (or job), we hope to find a perfect job. Many of us will change our jobs throughout our lives trying to find happiness and satisfaction. So far, the author of this website has been a construction worker, a bartender, a student, an accountant and an English teacher. Unfortunately, many people probably do not find perfect jobs.

Changing jobs means that our English language needs will change as well. Below and on the next few pages are examples of different jobs that we may find during our lives. The author has tried to include a very brief (sometimes 2-3 sentences only) discription of the job and what kind of communications are expected as you do that work. Work for the Government or with the circus is not included on these pages.

Remember that learning to communicate in any job requires you to practice speaking, listening, writing and reading 'on the job'. 'Hands on' experience is valuable. Sometimes you will need to communicate with your boss, with your co-workers and with your customers (in retail), clients (in service work) or your patients (in medical jobs). Each style and tone of communication is different and requires a specific vocabulary. The communicative needs of someone working as a hostess seating someone in a restaurant are very different from an insurance salesman talking with his boss about job expenses.

As part of the introductions to different types of work, the author has tried to include samples of vocabulary that a worker may commonly use. When possible, a link to more extensive glossary or dictionaries is included. These word lists are no substitute for the daily practice that you must continue.


cubesThe Office offers opportunities for many different occupations. Usually, any work done at a desk, inside, in a building not open to the public is considered office work. It may include clerical or administrative work and is often considered 'business'. Working as a receptionist or a manager's personal secretary (administrative assistant) are examples. Working in one (or several) of a company's departments would catagorize you as office staff. Any accounting, insurance or public relations departments within a company's structure would have use for office workers.

Communication takes place on many levels and between many different people. Daily exchanges of emails between subordinates and supervisors in the company are common. Double checking the contents of these emails with a trusted co-worker is a good idea. If more specific clarifications are needed, personal face-to-face contact in a meeting may occur. Accuracy is always very important in the office. It is a good idea to confirm what was said and understood before leaving any meeting.

The telephone is often used to communicate with others in the office and, since the public is not allowed in private offices, your link to 'outsiders' will depend on the phone. As always, when using the telephone, clear pronunciation is critical. This is especially important when giving or receiving detailed information. Unless your specific job requires regular contact with the public, most of your communications in an office will be with co-workers and other company employees.

Any English language learner has a valuable resource for practicing their new language in an office setting. Co-workers are often eager to help with vocabulary, pronunciation and many of the finers points of using a new language. Sometimes these points cannot be found in books and often shouldn't be repeated.

An additional resource for English vocabulary common to an office setting can be found here. Feel free to browse through the website. As always, please remember to be careful.


hospitalityThe Hospitality Industry encompasses many different but related occupations. It includes anyone working for a hotel, a cruise ship, a restaurant, a bar (tavern or lounge) or in what's known as tourism. If you serve people while they are traveling or at leisure, you are working in the hospitality industry.

Your goal is to serve your customer. While your instructions often are relayed to you by your superior, face-to-face or in writing, much of your time will be spent with the public and you will be expected to provide them with needed information. As an employee serving the public, you should be able to answer many different questions. Some are obvious but others, such as how to use a telephone, understanding warnings, giving directions and local customs may need to be addressed. Speaking clearly and being tactful are important.

At times, it may be useful for you to communicate in languages other than your native language or English. The more languages in which you are conversant, the more valuable employee you will be.

This link to vocabulary common to the hospitality industry may be helpful. It includes sections on 'Foof & Beverage', the Hotel Industry, Travel & Tourism and even suggestions on Politeness. While some terms and vocabulary are perceived to be useful, there is not substitute for sharing actual English that is used daily in your job. Local vernacular and slang varies and should be put to use when possible.


Teaching is a wonderful occupation that depends almost entirely on communicating with others. Most of your time will be spent speaking with your students. You will also spend lots of time listening to your students and reading what they have written. In addition, at times you will communicate with their parents and sometimes you will give and receive information with your administrator.

During classtime you will be expected to 'think on your feet' as students ask you questions. While accuracy is important, your self-confidence could make just as great an impression on your students. You will have to listen closely and if you don't understand the question, ask the student to repeat it, "please". Since accurate communication is so critical in this job, confirming that you, the student and the rest of the class understand each other is critical. In this line of work, your communication skills will be challenged. It can be difficult to remember that when you are learning a new language, people can be very forgiving. For the most part, they are on your side and want you to succeed.

Students often need to be prompted to ask questions and you will have to be aware of this. By asking questions yourself, you may encourage them to do the same.

If you are fortunate enough to teach students your native language, you will be able to practice, not only your native language with your students, but your English as well. It's important that you remember to forgive them their foibles as they forgive you yours.

This link takes you to a webpage that displays a list of vocabulary words related to education. It uses British spelling and may contain words that are not generally used in the United States. These words are all English but may or not be understood in a U.S. context. Consult a dictionary for the meanings of the vocabulary.



Last Updated: November 8, 2016