Number one for English language teachers

Describing data-line graphs 2

Type: Teaching notes

The aim of this exercise is to help students deal with comparing the data in bar charts where there are no trends.

Teaching tips

The material can be used as an introduction to bar charts where individual factors are being described rather than trends.

  1. Give the students the bar chart and ask them - in pairs - to study it and see if they can divide the factors into natural groups. For example, you can divide the items on the bar chart into teaching and non-teaching.
  2. Allow the students to come up with different possibilities before you give them your own answer. A division that is commonly suggested is according to percentage. This may seem convenient, but students may end up grouping items together that do not really fit.
  3. Point out that putting the items into natural groups is like arranging information into paragraphs for writing and reading. The relationship between the different skills will help students gradually build up a picture of the thinking behind the IELTS exam.
  4. Ask the students to give you the percentages of several factors; which is the highest/the lowest; which one comes top/bottom/second from the bottom; which ones they would give, etc.
  5. Then give the students the list of phrases and the sentences. You can complete a few of the answers, depending on the level of the class – you may want to do some of the more difficult ones.

If the class is advanced, you could ask them to look at the sentences first in groups/pairs and see if they can predict the words that are missing. Before you let them look at the phrases, go through and see how many they can give. Point out that you are not looking for the exact answers or necessarily the correct answers. You may be satisfied with the students getting the grammar correct. Allow the students in pairs/groups to find the answers from the list of phrases

Answer Key

1) M, 2) O, 3) J, 4) B, 5) E, 6) N, 7) H, 8) L, 9) I, 10) D, 11) A, 12) F, 13) C, 14) G, 15) K

Information gap exercises

Check that the students understand all the words in the sentences. Then divide the class into pairs and give each pair the two charts A and B. Point out that the items on the chart are the same as in the exercise they have just looked at, but that the percentages for the items have been changed.

Tell them not to look at each other’s charts. Tell them their task is to ask each other questions to complete the bar charts. When they have finished they can look at each other’s charts.

A variation of this exercise is to have the students ask you questions to complete either chart A or B. A further variation is to dictate the missing information in simple or complex sentences depending on the level of the class.

You can then check if the students have understood the chart and the language by asking them to make sentences orally to describe/compare particular factors.

As a follow up, you can ask them to write sentences or a simple text describing the data in the chart.

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