Do you work or are you a student? – your work

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“Do you work or are you a student?”

How not to answer

This is an alternative question. Do not start your answer to this question with “yes” or “no”. It is not a ‘Yes/No’ question. If you hear the question “What do you like more: coffee or tea?”, definitely you don’t answer it “yes” or “no”. You will not answer it “I’ve been drinking coffee for five years” either. You will provide a direct answer – “coffee”. So provide direct answers!

Some people answer this question by saying where they work. For example, “I’m working at the Sales Department” or “I’m working at XYZ Company.” Such indirect answers give the impression that your communication skills in spoken English are not strong.

Don’t answer this question by saying what your job is, such as “I’m an accountant”. This is another example of an indirect answer to the question.

Best answers

The best answer is to say “I work” or “I’m working” followed by a piece of extra information. This information could be: what you do; where you work; how long you have been working; a change that you plan to make; or how you feel about working or your job. For example: “I work. I’m a secretary in a joint-venture company in Moscow”.

On the other hand, keep in mind that questions such this are not asking you to give a lot of extra information. Therefore, to provide much extra information is unsuitable.  

Model answers

  • I’m working at the moment.
  • Well, for the past couple of years, I’ve been working for [ABC Company] as a [a job’s title], which is among the top 10 listed firms in my country.
  • Well, to cut a long story short, soon after I graduated I was recruited as a civil engineer in a consultancy, where I’ve been employed for three years.
  • I’m an engineer. I’ve worked for the same company for three years. My specific job is working with the senior engineer and helping to prepare presentations for contractors and their clients. I’d like to get an advanced degree. That’s why I’m applying to study at an engineering school in Australia.

What job do you do?

The second question that examiners often ask is: “What job do you do?” or “What work do you do?” or similar words.  Of course, if you have already told the examiner this, you will not be asked this question.

Begin your answer with “I’m a/an …”, “I’m the …”, “I work as a/an …” or “I’m working as a/an …” and add some extra information.

It is a weak answer to reply where you work without saying what work you do. For example, “I’m working at XYZ Company”. But a good answer would be, “I’m working at the City Tax Department as an accountant”. However, it is best to state the job first, “I’m working as an accountant at the City Tax Department.

Simplify your answers

Many people are not sure how to name their work. Sometimes, if you simply give the job title, it does not say much to a listener.

For example, people who have graduated as lawyers or accountants have positions that are not exactly called ‘lawyer’ or ‘accountant’. In this case, you should think about basic things your training or degree involved. Was it law, engineering, accountancy? Simplify your answer by saying something such as, “I work as a lawyer for the Henan Provincial Department of Commerce.”

Remember, this is just an English test, not a job interview. If your job does not directly or only involve accountancy or law or whatever your degree was, you can dd a comment about what you actually do on a day-to-day basis.

Another possible way to explain your job title might be: “I’m an assistant in the Personnel Department at XYZ Company”. By stating which department you work in, the listener can get a reasonably good idea of what you do.

You must be able to give a clear answer to this question and it is your responsibility to find out how to correctly say what work you do.

Model answers

  • I’m an English teacher. Currently, I teach students how to prepare for English language exams like IELTS.
  • I work part-time at a bookstore.
  • I’m an architect and have been one for the last 15 years.
  • I currently work as an office manager at a large marketing company. I’ve been in the job for about five years now. I’m usually assigned to work with a specific business in order to improve their sales through various marketing strategies.

Why did you chose that job?

Useful expressions

  • I chose it simply because …
  • The reason why I decided on XXX is that…
  • The incentive/starting point was that I found XXX quite …
  • Personally, I strongly believe that the sector of… will be promising/highly demanded/a sunrise industry.
  • Honestly, it was not my choice since I was told to …
  • I chose this job because I have a passion for …

Model answers

  • I grew up around computers and always had an inclination towards them, so when I got into high school it seemed natural to pursue that beyond a hobby and into a possible career path.
  • It gives me the chance to work from home, so I can have more time for my family. I don’t need to go to the office every day, which is great because I don’t want to waste hours getting stuck in traffic jams on the way to and from work.

Рубрики: IELTS

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