Colleges should build realistic working environments, such as aircraft cabins for tourism students, to make training as practical as possible, Ofsted says.
A report on leisure, tourism and travel courses found that more than half of colleges had real-life workplaces for students to develop their skills, with commercial fitness centres on site or links with primary schools for students to lead outdoor education activities.
In a second report on teaching information technology, inspectors also said realistic practical activities were central to bringing work to life for students.
Christine Gilbert, the chief inspector, said: "Giving students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience, to practise and learn from those in business and industry, is vitally important. It's encouraging to see such examples of good work and innovative teaching methods inspiring and motivating learners in colleges."