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English-Spanish Vocabulary for Oficios y Profesiones

written by: Kena Sosa • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 9/11/2012

The education of a student in beginner Spanish would not be complete without learning vocabulary for English/Spanish oficios y profesiones, or professions and jobs. Highlighting to students that bilingual employees, regardless of the field, tend to earn more money should be a good motivator.

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    Essential Subject

    Oficios y profesiones refers to jobs and careers, a necessary topic for conversation for any Spanish speaker. A teacher can introduce this topic to his or her class by using pictures or flashcards of people in a community and introducing students to them and what they do. If the teacher is very ambitious, a great way to do this would be to use technology and video tape people in their community talking briefly about their jobs to the class. Have students discuss what job they might like when they grow up. Learn some important vocabulary English-Spanish oficios y profesiones in the following sections.

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    Cognates for Profesiones y Oficios

    A teacher can begin teaching profesiones y oficios by using the cognates to make students more confident. He or she will need to emphasize that many other titles are not as obvious and that there are exceptions to the rules.

    Spanish - English

    • fotografo - photographer
    • artista - artist
    • pintor - painter
    • doctor - doctor
    • dentista - dentist
    • secretaria - secretary
    • asistente - assistant
    • director - director (also Principal of a school)
    • policia - police (also oficial)
    • reportero - reporter
    • autor - author
    • ilustrador - illustrator
    • piloto - pilot
    • agente - agent
    • arquitecto - architect
    • arqueologico - archaeologist
    • contador - accountant
    • professor - professor
    • atleta - athlete
    • vendedor - vendor
    • president - presidente
    • diseñador - designer
    • inginiero - engineer
    • astronauta - astronaut
    • músico - musician
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    Other Common Profesiones

    Here are some vocabulary words for other common profesiones of which students should be aware.

    Spanish - English

    • maestra/o - teacher
    • director técnico - coach
    • gerente - manager
    • cajero - cashier
    • escritor - writer
    • bailarin/a - dancer
    • bibliotecario/a - librarian
    • enfermera/o - nurse
    • conductor - driver
    • cocinero - cook/chef
    • niñera/o - babysitter, caretaker
    • albañil - carpenter
    • obrero - worker (physical labor)
    • granjero - farmer
    • mesero - waiter
    • bombero - firefighter
    • jugador de _____ - _____player (i.e. jugador de futbol - soccer player)
    • azafata - flight attendant
    • cientifico - scientist
    • cirujano - surgeon
    • consejero - counselor
    • abogado - lawyer
    • juez - judge
    • ama de casa - housewife
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    Activities to Practice Oficios y Profesiones

    To begin, the teacher should cut up their list of oficios y profesiones into strips, one job title on each strip, and place them into a bag. Each student should choose a job from the bag. After picking a partner, they should practice talking about their jobs in Spanish in role play situations. For example, if the azafata/flight attendant and granjero/farmer students are partnered up, they can carry on a role play conversation about it being the farmer's first time on a flight. These conversations should bring other basic vocabulary into the skits for additional practice. At the end of the first session, students should be able to perform their simple skits for the class' benefit.

    The second session should give students a chance to practice a second job. The teacher will stick a Post-it note with a profession onto the forehead of each student without showing it to them. Students must ask yes/no questions to their classmates to try to figure out what profession they hold. Once they've guessed, they should retire to their seats to write a short job description and why they might like or not like to perform that job when they grow up. This should be turned into the teacher for later use.

    During the third lesson, students should select a different profession than they held in the prior lesson. They can use library books or the Internet to research some basic facts about their newfound profession such as what training and education or physical skills are required to get that job. They should prepare a short introduction and practice it individually. This introduction will be used in the final assessment.

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    Assessment Activities

    As part of the earlier activities, students should have learned the purpose or use of a specific job, reading materials, and researching to learn basic facts of the job such as duties, job requirements, or even famous folk who did that job. The class as a whole will then conduct a student-led Career Day. Each student will have their turn to introduce their job to the class in Spanish. The students can dress up to help their case. The audience of their peers will get to ask questions until they are able to guess, using correct vocabulary, what job is being discussed. As long as the student has adequately described their job so that the class is able to guess, they have completed their task. A student who is unable to describe their job would need additional practice.

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    Continuous Reinforcement/Review

    From time to time, students can play a game of oficios y profesiones Bingo/Loteria. The teacher will read the job descriptions written by students in prior activities for the job he or she is calling. The students must match the description to the job on their Bingo/Loteria board.

    With these lists and activities, Spanish language students will increase their vocabulary and learn about jobs.


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