This blog post talks about work and ideas for being happy at work. Besides being a very common everyday conversation topic, this is also a prevalent subject in IELTS writing (having an enjoyable job vs. earning a lot of money) and IELTS speaking (describe a job that you have or would like to have). So I included the links below to give you some ideas and vocabulary that will enable you to talk about this topic more confidently and fluently.

A big motivation for a lot of my students to improve their English language skills is to find a job that will provide better working conditions and benefits, such as a higher salary, more holidays and a nicer working environment. At the same time, the main incentive for many people is to use their English to do something more meaningful and take on extra responsibility. For example, working for a larger company that is involved in more pioneering projects. Most of the time, these two things (extra benefits and more responsibility) go hand in hand. In other words, they are strongly connected to each other.

In the video above, I talk about a very common conversational phrasal verb used to talk about work and business in English (“tick over”). We use this phrasal verb a lot when we talk about a job that is providing us with an income that isn’t exceptional, but is enough to help us survive. Similarly, when we talk about a business that is ticking over, we mean the business isn’t particularly profitable, but is doing enough to run quite smoothly and comfortably. If you find a job that you enjoy which keeps you ticking over, I think you’re in a pretty good situation since a lot of people in the world aren’t satisfied with their jobs. Nevertheless, it’s also understandable that people want to try and better themselves and do something more lucrative. The links below discuss the balance between things like money, responsibility and satisfaction.

The first reading link discusses what makes a “dream job,” and some interesting ideas are brought up. In essence, the evidence from years of research suggests you should focus on doing what you’re good at. It isn’t necessarily the best idea to go for a job that you consider more “meaningful,” or that has the highest pay. Similarly, it isn’t necessarily a good idea to just avoid stress when considering what sort of job to go for. According to research, a better idea is to find work that is engaging, allows you to help others, and allows you to live a satisfying personal life.

The second link follows a similar theme, and the author makes a comparison with the tortoise and the hare. She basically says that even if you don’t earn a good income at the beginning, if you focus on doing what you love and stick at it, then you’re likely to be successful in the long run. By contrast, the man who we hear in the listening link disagrees with this idea. He says that it’s bad advice to tell people to focus on doing what you love, and instead recommends that you should consider your talents and the amount of opportunities available when considering a career. What do you think? Personally, I can see the strengths of both arguments but I find the man in the video more convincing. Research about what makes a dream job suggests that is important for a job to help sustain an enjoyable personal life, and the best way to do this might be by doing in-demand work that you’re good at.

Below are the IELTS writing and speaking tasks connected to this subject:

IELTS Writing (jobs)

Some people argue that it is more important to have an enjoyable job than to earn a lot of money. Others disagree and think that a good salary leads to a better life.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.


IELTS Speaking Part 2 (describe a job)

Describe the job/ career you have or hope to have.
You should say:
what the job is
what it involves
why you chose it
and explain why you are interested in this job.

Part 3 Follow up Questions

1. Do you think job satisfaction is more important than salary when choosing a job?
2. What skills do you think are needed to get a good job these days?
3. Do you think women should be able to do all the same jobs that men do?
4. How has technology changed the way we work?
5. What is the difference between white collar and blue collar jobs?
6. What jobs do you think are most valuable to society?



What makes a dream job? Here’s what the evidence says

Salary vs. Job Happiness: The 3 Pros and Cons





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