Number one for English language teachers

Describing tables

Type: Teaching notes

The aim of this exercise is to help students extract information from data presented in a table.

Objective

The exercise helps students:

  • to extract specific information from a table;
  • to write a text under guidance;
  • to extract information at speed
  • to be aware of grammar as they write.

Level: The exercise may be used with a range of levels.

Materials: (see related pages below) 

  • a table showing the review ratings of several performances of plays, with a Key
  • a series of questions for guided writing with pre-oral preparation
  • a series of questions with text for completion
  • a text with gaps for completion
  • a key

Practice stage

You may want to shorten the sequence below or use any item on its own.

Guided writing 1

  • Divide the students into pairs or groups of three and give them each a copy of the table and the questions in Exercise 1.
  • Tell them they have 10-15 minutes (depending on the level of the class) to answer the questions relating to the table. Tell the students that they are not allowed to write, even to make notes.
  • Or give the students the table in pairs and give them five minutes to look at it together. Then ask the questions to the class as a whole, developing or adding to the questions. If you can, follow the sequence of the questions.
  • Or ask the questions to the class and then get the students, in pairs, to write down the answers. Set a specific time limit for each question.
  • Or put the students into groups of four and turn it into a competition with a time limit.

Time


If the class is of a high level, you may want to limit the time for the exercise to mimic the extraction and organization of information in the students’ heads in the exam. Use a stop-watch and point out that you are going to stick to the time limit strictly. Over a period of using exercises for exam practice you can gradually decrease the time allowed. Note: intersperse this with exercises without time limits.

Guided writing 2

  • Give the students Guided Writing 2 and ask them to complete - in pairs or groups - the blanks in the text.
  • Tell the students to go though the text first and decide what types of words they need to complete the text: names, adjectives, prepositions, adverbs, etc. Then they should put in the words.
  • Again you may wish to limit the time.

Guided writing 3

  • Finally give the students Guided Writing 3 and ask them not to look at Guided Writing 2. Tell them that they may, however, look at the questions in Guided Writing 1 and the table itself.
  • Tell the students to got though the text and decide what types of words they need to complete the text: names, adjectives, prepositions, adverbs, etc. Use the examples to explain and start the exercise.
  • Then ask the students to go though and write in the words they think are missing.
  • Accept words that are not in the Key but which fit.
  • Give the students the Key and ask them to compare what they have written.
  • Do not mark the answers in the text. Looking for the exact answers will help students look at the grammar.
  • Allow them to ask to you questions.

Checking

Ask the students to describe in sentences going round the class. Do not allow the text to continue unless the language is correct.

Productive stage

  • Ask the student to put all the exercises away or cover them.
  • Ask them to produce sentences or a text about the information in the table.
  • Read out a selection of the sentences/texts produced by the students.
  • If you have classes of different levels, you may want to divide them into text or sentence production.

Vocabulary development

  • shows - illustrates
  • data - information
  • whereas - while/whilst
  • favourite - use the verb like
  • was the least popular - use the verb dislike
  • awarding - giving
  • followed very closely - came a close second/came next/was second
  • except for - with the exception of/excluding/apart from
  As for ____, - as regards/ regarding/with regard to
as far as ______ is/are concerned/where ______ is/are concerned/when it comes to

 [Point out the grammar, i.e. that the construction needs a noun/pronoun after it - As for Electra, it ... Also point out that they should not use these phrases too often in one text.]

 

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