Presenting and Discussing In-Class Poll Results

Michael T. Sullivan, Linguage Intercom Corporation

Quick Guide

  • Keywords: Survey, poll, graph description
  • Learner English level: Intermediate and above
  • Learner maturity: University
  • Preparation time: 20-30 minutes
  • Activity time: 45-60 minutes
  • Materials: Polling worksheet

There is a growing need for English language learners to not only express and elicit from others their thoughts on topics of the day, but also to analyze and present any related data. So, why not do so with the help of an in-class poll or survey? A survey generally consists of a question or a set of questions used to help gauge the thoughts, opinions, or attitudes of others. In this learner-centered activity, students are asked to carry out a survey among their peers, present results in graph form, assess the results in small groups, and then discuss how these results relate to the general population at large by comparing the results of similar surveys by outside media sources.

Step 1: Prepare a worksheet on which students can design a graph and write a short description of the results. The worksheet should provide key graph description and opinion language across the top of the page.
Step 2: Select several topical questions for each group (at least one question per group member). Different groups can have the same questions as long as two members of the same group do not have the same question. Show the questions that the students can choose on a projector or blackboard. Make sure that the content and language of the questions suit the students’ level.
Step 3: Give each student the question the day or week before the activity. For homework, have the students read over the question and check the meaning of any unknown vocabulary.
Step 4: Prepare a PowerPoint slide or sheet of paper with the results from an actual online poll for the same questions. Several news organizations hold online polls, often daily or weekly. For example, the Daily Mail Online <> conducts a number of daily polls on various topics, ranging from health and science to showbiz and sports.

Step 1: Review graph description and opinion language before starting the activity.
Step 2: Arrange students in small groups. Within each group, each student chooses a different question of the week.
Step 3: Each student then mingles with students from outside the small group to get responses to his or her particular question.
Step 4: Students return to their desks to compile and tabulate the responses.
Step 5: On the worksheet, each student designs a graph (e.g., pie chart or bar graph) and writes up a brief graph description based on the responses.
Step 6: Each student gives a mini-presentation to their group on the results. In their presentations, each student defines the question, but also introduces, highlights, explains, and summarizes their graph.
Step 7: Have the other students in their group then express their opinion on the topic and the results.
Step 8: Once all students in the group have given their presentations and expressed opinions on the student results, the students predict the results from an online poll asking the same questions. Students then look over the online responses, assessing and comparing within their group the in-class results with the online ones.

The primary intention of this activity is to encourage learners to be responsible for their own learning. However, by collecting, organizing, discussing, evaluating, and presenting survey data, and by comparing student-generated results with those compiled by the media, secondary goals come into play, such as building vocabulary, creating and describing graphs and charts, developing fluency, and fostering interactivity among learners.