Surveys

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Creating, administering, and reporting surveys can be a great way to practice a number of grammar points, such as question forms, expressions of preference, quantifiers, and reported speech. Also, it’s an activity that can work for all levels. Let’s take a look.

Writing a Survey

In groups, students should come up with a topic that they believe a lot of people have different opinions on.* It could be as simple as favorite foods to more complex topics like the advantages and disadvantages of emerging technologies. Once they have a topic, the students need to write five to eight questions about the topic.

They can do ‘wh’ questions if that’s what you’re practicing, but free response questions will make it harder to evaluate the results at the end. The more people that will be surveyed, the better it is to make the questions multiple-choice, including yes/no questions.

Depending on the level of the class, this may be a good opportunity to practice expressions of preference*, which may come in the form of verb patterns, unreal expressions, or other structures.

*The surveys do not have to be about opinions or preferences. They could instead be about experiences, possessions, habits, or just about anything for which you would not expect everyone in the community to have the same answer.

Gathering Responses

Your students can survey fellow students in their school, or this could be homework and the students could ask friends and family. There could be a separate paper for each person surveyed, or students can make tick marks to keep track of how many people answered a certain way if the survey is multiple-choice.

Students do not need to write down the names of the people surveyed or keep track of which answers belong to which people.

Evaluating the Results

Next, students need to count up the number of answers for each question. Proportions are more important than absolute numbers. For example, ‘7 people’ doesn’t give us significant information, but ‘7 out of 10 people’ or ‘70% of people’ does. Use whatever the students are comfortable with: ratios, fractions, or percentages.

Once they have the results, they should share them with the rest of the class. This is a good opportunity to practice things like quantifiers: all of, every, most, a lot of, several, some, a few, not many, none of, etc. It may also be a way to practice reported speech, as in “a few people said that they prefer strawberry ice cream to chocolate.” Comparative and superlative adjectives might also be great ways to express the results.

Extensions

The project could end there, but there is more you could do with the results, if you like. For example, the students could create posters to visually communicate the results, and maybe they can tell the class what they learned from the survey. Another option is for the teacher to gather the results before they are shared and make a game out of it (like Family Feud).


Surveys are an avenue through which you could practice different grammar points at the same time. You can easily customize it to meet your students’ skills and interests.

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