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INTERPRETATION OF DATA

I. TO START YOU THINKING


This section looks at ways in which we make generalized statements about information contained in graphs/charts or tables (generally known as diagrammatic information). Although this information is normally clear, it usually requires some written comment.
1. Have you ever written a report or produced a writing piece interpreting information in a table, graph, chart etc? If yes, what was the case? If not, imagine something of the case to tell your class. 2. Work in groups, create four different cases/examples in which you may show your intended audience (readers) information/data from a diagram.

II. FAMILIARIZATION
1. TABLES Tables provide us with an effective way of looking at groups of related numbers. They present us with many specific pieces of information in a form that makes it easy for us to compare those bits of data with each other. A table is a display of information usually given in numbers. It is arranged in some orderly fashion, usually in columns and rows. Tables can present many different kinds of information including population figures, average temperatures, workers salaries and so on. Look at the following model table: Favourite Pastimes ( Percentages) Countries Canada France England Australia Korea China USA Japan TV 60 / / 65 22 15 60 / Sport 22 / / 30 21 25 23 / From 30 - 50 years Reading 15 30 30 15 60 60 15 62 Hobbies 40 20 21 45 45 50 42 / Music 3 4 4 5 2 0 23 / Beach 0 / / 30 2 5 30 / Sleep 2 / 20 4 4 5 2 /

The topic of a table is always found in the title which usually appears at the top. What kind of information does this table show? Notice that the information is arranged in columns and rows. - Columns run from top to bottom. The first column in the above table contains the row headings for the table. What is the heading of that column? and What are the headings of the other columns in the table? - Rows are read from left to right. What kind of information is listed in each row? 2. CHARTS AND GRAPHS While tables always use numbers to present information in rows and column, charts and graphs present information in visual symbols (e.g. pictures, drawings, letters...). Common kinds of chart/graph are column/bar charts (also known as column/bar graphs), pie charts and line graphs. Pair work: Study the following charts and graphs carefully and write in the blank one sentence to tell what each chart or graph is about. (NB. Each chart/graph has a different name) A. VERTICAL BAR CHARTS
100

Percentage of men and women

90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Office r GradeE Office r GradeD Office r GradeC Office r GradeB Office r GradeA Wome n Me n

Officer Grade A: Highest Officer Grade E: Lowest

J ob cate gory Exe cutive positions in the ACME Oil Com pany fromJ uly 1993 to J une 1994

.................................................................................................................................... ... .................................................................................................................................... ...

B. HORIZONTAL BAR CHARTS


Factorsaffe cting w ork pe rform anceat a m ajor com pany in Aus tralia

Te s am pirit Chancefor pe onal de lopme rs ve nt Re laxe w d orking e nvironm nt e Com te bos pe nt s J ob s curity e Re pe fromcolle s ct ague s Prom otion pros cts pe J ob s faction atis Work e nvironm nt e Mone y 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 18-30 70 80 90 100

45-60

.................................................................................................................................... ... .................................................................................................................................... ... C. EXTENDED BAR CHARTS

Number and Sex of Employees


Number of Employees
Diaz Messenger Service
100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 1970 1980 1990 2000

Me n Wom n e

Internet use (hours)

.................................................................................................................................... ... .................................................................................................................................... ... D. SINGLE LINE GRAPHS


35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90

Annual household income ($000)

Annual household income and Internet use

.................................................................................................................................... ... .................................................................................................................................... ...

E. MULTIPLE LINE GRAPHS

Num r of vis to two ne m ic s s on thewe be its w us ite b


180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Pop Parade Music Choice

'000s

Days

.................................................................................................................................... ... .................................................................................................................................... ...

F. PIE CHART
Household expenditure In Britain 2000

Clothing 7% Other goods and services 36% Housing 18%

Transport 17% Food 22%

Household expenditure In Hong Kong 2000

Other goods and services 28%

Clothing 4% Housing 32%

Food 27%

Transport 9%

.................................................................................................................................... ... .................................................................................................................................... ...

III. LANGUAGE NOTES AND WRITING HINTS


An interpretation of a table / graph / chart ... usually contains 3 parts: (an) introductory sentence(s), a body and (a) concluding sentence(s) as shown in the following example. Favorite Pastimes ( Percentages) Countries TV 60 / / 65 22 15 60 / Sport 22 / / 30 21 25 23 / From 30 - 50 years Reading 15 30 30 15 60 60 15 62 Hobbies 40 20 21 45 45 50 42 / Music 3 4 4 5 2 0 23 / Beach 0 / / 30 2 5 30 / Sleep 2 / 20 4 4 5 2 /

Canada France England Australia Korea China USA Japan

This table clearly presents and compares favourable pastimes in eight different countries. The pastimes, across the top of the table, are analyzed in relation to each country. As can be seen, about 60% of Canadians, Australians and Americans like watching television. On the other hand, this figure is quite low for China where only 15% of people watch television. Predictably, Americans like music at 23 %, whereas only 2 to 5% of people in the other countries feel the same way. 20% of people in England enjoy sleeping as a pastime whereas in Canada and the USA , for example, the figure is only 2%. Interestingly, the Chinese like hobbies the most at 50%, as opposed to only 20 % in France and the USA at 42%. It seems the pastimes of people of different nationalities may be influenced by a number of factors such as the socio-economic situation or the climate. These factors influence cultural difference

between different nationalities and make cross- cultural experiences more interesting.

1) Writing Introductory Sentences The introductory sentence explains what you are describing. It should include the following information: - What kind of information is presented in the table / chart / graph ... ? - Where is the information from? Type of chart illustration graph pie chart bar chart table Source set by ................. given by ............. provided by ........ Appropriate verb shows illustrates compares presents describes Description the number of ..... the proportion of... the sales figures of... information on .... data on ......

The

Example: The table compares the population growth and interstate migration in each Australian state for 12 months to the end of 1994. The graph shows the growth of computers in Australia between 1975 and 1995. The pie chart represents the proportion of gases contained in natural gas.

N.B. Use your own words to write an introductory sentence. If you copy the title of an illustration or the question word for word, the examiner will regard this as plagiarism and ignore the sentence. This could affect your score. To avoid plagiarism, change the words. For example, The two pie charts show the proportion of males and females in employment in 6 broad categories can be written as The two pie charts give the proportion of men and women employed in 6 broad areas. You can also change the structure, for example The two pie charts show the proportion of males and females in employment in 6 broad categories can be changed into The two pie charts show, in 6 broad categories, the proportion of males and female in employment. You can change the way you express the time period, too. For example The graph in Figure 1 shows the total grain harvest area in millions of hectares

between 1950 and 1996 can become The graph in Figure 1 shows the total grain harvest area in millions of hectares over a 46 - year period. 2) Writing Body Paragraphs This is the main part of the interpretation. In this part, you should discuss all the necessary information revealed from the table / chart / graph... When discussing the data presented in a graph for example, identify significant trends and give examples that relate directly to the given information to support your statements. When asked to describe information given in a table or a chart that shows the present situation, use the present simple or present tense, and the passive voice where necessary. When asked to describe information shown in the graph, table that is fixed in time or that changed over time, use the past simple or past continuous tense. * The following structures and vocabulary are useful when describing trends. minimal slight small slow gradual steady moderate marked large dramatic steep sharp rapid

There is has been was will be

a(n) ( very)

rise increase fluctuation decrease reduction fall drop growth

in washing machines sales

Enrolment numbers Music sales

rise increase grow

rapidly dramatically sharply moderately steadily gradually

Production of timber

falls decreases declines drops

slightly slowly

leapt / shot up / soared / rocketed increased sharply rose rapidly climbed dramatically

slumped/ plummeted dropped sharply fell rapidly decline dramatically stabilized leveled off remained constant

increased gradually rose slowly climbed minimally

dropped slightly fell gradually declined minimally / slowly

Example: Write a report for a university lecturer describing the information shown in the following graph.

Num r of vis to two ne m ic s s on thewe be its w us ite b


180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Pop Parade Music Choice

'000s

Days

Model body paragraphs: In general terms, there was a wild fluctuation in the number of visits to both websites through the period studied and more people accessed Pop Parade than Music Choice. On day 1 the number of visits to Music Choice stood at 40,000 but the figure for Pop Parade was about 110,000. For the first five days, Pop Parade witnessed a downward trend to only a half on day 5. The figure then fluctuated at around 50,000 up to day 9 before rising sharply to 160,000 on day 11. This was then followed by a significant fluctuation for 3 successive days (11 to 14) and the number reached the peak of 170,000 on day 15. For Music Choice, there was a fluctuation of around 30,000 for the first 11 days, except on day 3 when the number was 60,000. On day 12, the number grew suddenly to 120,000 before it fluctuated and dropped again to 80,000 on the last day in the period surveyed. * Contrasting method is usually used when describing charts. If the statistics are expressed in percentages, the following structures can be used. The EEC and the USA both had 10% profit The profit rose to 10% The monthly increased by 10% profit fell The profit remained steady at 10% The profit peaked at just over 10% from 10% to 20% from 20% to 10%

Slovakia had

the largest

percentage number

of students

(10%) (245)

10% of the students 10% of the students were from the Federal of Russia. France accounted for 10% of the students. They made twice three times four times the profit percentage percentage of profit doubled increased in May than in March

The

profit percentage percentage of profit

from March to May three- fold

Company As profit percentage rose steadily whereas that of Company B fell slightly. There were more females than males ( 10% and 5% respectively) The most popular second most popular car color color is white red

Red

is

substantially considerably a lot far much somewhat significantly slightly fractionally about twice three times as

more common less popular

than

blue

White

is

common popular

as

red

White, which is 56.11%, is considerably more common than blue, which makes up 12.72%.

Red, which constitutes 28.05%, is about twice as popular as blue, which is 12.72%. The other colors, which constitute 3.12%, are considerably less popular than blue (12.72%). School A has almost a quarter as many students as School B. School A approximately three quarters as much space as School B. School A has the same number / proportion / amount of students as School B.

Example: Write a report for a university lecturer describing the information shown in the following graph.
100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Office r GradeE Office r GradeD Office r GradeC Office r GradeB Office r GradeA Wome n Me n

J ob cate gory Exe cutive positions in the ACME Oil Com pany fromJ uly 1993 to J une 1994

Model body paragraphs: Approximately 72% of workers in the lowest executive positions of Officer grade E are women. This is the highest percentage of women in any executive job category in the ACME Oil Company. In contrast, the lowest proportion of men is found in this category. As the executive position increases to the higher Officer Grade , the percentage of women decreases and the percentage of men increases. This trend continues throughout the graph. The least difference between the percentage of men and women found in a job category exists in the category of Officer Grade C, which is the middle executive position. Here women represent 45% and men represent 55% of workers.

In the highest executive position of Officer Grade A, women represent only about 8% of workers. This stands in marked contrast to the 92% of men represented in this job category. 3) Writing concluding sentences A simple concluding statement could include any of the following, where relevant: Significant comments An overall summary of the ideas To signal your conclusion you can use the terms in the box. Expression In summary, .. To sum up, .... What to write Express the main point of the illustration again in your own words

In conclusion, . Say something new that does not extend too far beyond what To conclude, ... the illustration shows. You can mention future implications, or draw a conclusion. Example: - In summary, we can see that the area devoted to grain production was affected by both government and market forces. - In conclusion, the two charts clearly show that women do not have the same access as men to certain positions of employment. - In conclusion, it can be seen from the economic indicators, the four developing countries have to develop a lot before reaching the same level of quality of life as the USA.

IV TRANSFER AND PRACTICE


Practice 1

When describing change, it is important to be clear about what is changing. For example, the topic is Cars. We cannot say Cars increased but The number of cars increased or to avoid repetition, we can say Car numbers increased. Complete the following table : Topic (1) .................... (3)..................... Unemployment (7) ................... Computers Migrants Timber
Practice 2 Fill in the blanks using the correct prepositions.

The + measure quantity + of + topic The area of land (4) .............................................. (5) .............................................. The salaries of females .................................................... (8) .............................................. The production of timber

Alternatives (2) ................................ insurance costs (6) ................................ Female salaries Computer sales (9) ................................. (10) ...............................

a) Profits rose from 2 billion dollars .. 5 billion last quarter. b) In the first decade the population remained steady .. approximately 5 million. c) Since 1985, the price of houses has increased .. 200%. d) Violence in the city peaked ....... about 1,500 deaths over 10,000 people. e) Road accidents reached a peak .. 50,000 in November. f) The crime rate increased rapidly .. well over 500 incidents per night. g) Car sales remained constant .. around 75 per month for the rest of the period. h) For the next few months, computer prices are expected to drop .. 50% in spite of a predicted price increase in basic electrical goods .. 25%. i) During the summer, temperatures fluctuate .. 20 and 30 degrees.

j) By close of business, the value of the companys shares stood .. $25.

Practice 3

1. Choose the correct words in bold type to complete this report

SALES ANALYSIS
Sales began the year at 30,000 units in January and increased slight / slightly to 32,000 units in February. There was a sharp / sharply rise to / by 38,000 in March due / led to the introduction of a new price discounting scheme. This was followed by a slight / slightly fall in April when sales dropped to 36,000 units Our competitors launched a rival product in the spring and this resulted in / from a dramatic / dramatically fall to 25,000 in May. But we ran a summer advertising campaign and sales increased steady / steadily to / by 2,000 units a month throughout June, July and August until they stood in / at 33,000 in September. The dramatic / dramatically rise to 45,000 in October resulted in / from the launch of our new autumn range. But then we experienced problems meeting demand and sales fell sharp/ sharply in November and remained steady / steadily at / by 39,000 in December. 2. Use the information in the report to complete this graph.
50,000 45,000 40,000 35,000 30,000 25,000 20,000 J F Practice 4 M A M J J A S O N D

1. Look at the pie charts and complete the following report.


Household expenditure In Britain 2000 Household expenditure In Hong Kong 2000

Other goods and services 36%

Clothing 7% Housing 18% Transport 17%

Other goods and services 36%

Clothing 7% Housing 18% Transport 17%

Food 22%

Food 22%

The pie charts show the proportion of money spent on various household expenses in Hong Kong and Britain in 2000. We can see that in Hong Kong the greatest proportion of expenditure (32%) was on housing, (1) ...................... in Britain housing accounted for just 17% of the total. (2) ......................, in Britain the greatest single expense was other goods and services at 36%, (3) ...................... 28% in Hong Kong. Food came in second place in Britain, at 22%, while in Hong Kong the actual proportion was (4) ...................... (27%). In Britain another major expense was transport, at 17%, but this was much (5) ...................... in Hong Kong (9%). In both coutries the (6) ...................... percentage of expenditure was on clothing. (7) ......................, the data (8) ...................... that in both cases food, housing and other goods and services were the (9) ...................... expenses, (10) ...................... that in Britain, transport and other goods and servies took up a (11) ...................... proportion of total expenditure (12) ...................... in Hong Kong.
Practice 5

Read through the following sentences and choose the expression in italics which best completes each of them. Both expressions are grammatically correct; you must think about the meaning and decide which one gives correct information.

1. A much lower / far higher quantity of waste is produced by households in the USA than in China. 2. Lack of electricity is a much more / far less serious problem in Uganda than in North America. 3. Surprisingly, world population figures in 1700 AD were more or less the same as / a great deal higher than in 1200 AD. 4. Burying rubbish underground is probably a much less / slightly more effective solution than burning it, as burning produces harmful chemicals. 5. A significantly greater / slightly lower proportion of households in Berlin have running water, compared with Ho chi Minh City. 6. It appears that population growth may be a rather less / far more urgent issue now than 20 years ago, as the increase shows signs of slowing down. 7. In the future, hydrogen could be a much less / far more important energy resource than oil. 8. One fifth of the worlds population consumes a far larger / much smaller amount of the worlds resources than the remaining four-fifths put together.
9. A significantly higher / considerably lower percentage of people travel to work by public transport in Moscow than in Los Angeles.

Practice 6 The table below summarizes some data collected by a college bookshop for the month of February 2000. Read the report describing the sales figures of various types based on the information shown in the table. Then fill in the gaps with appropriate words.( You can use more than one word) Non - Book club members College College Members of staff students public 44 31 29 194 122 332 1249 82 405 1474 204 Book club members 76 942 33 1051 Total 151 1287 1696 3134

Fiction Non- fiction Magazines Total

The table ........................................................................................................... ....................................................... The figures are divided ........................... sales to non-book club members and to book club members. The non-book club member figures .............................. sales to college staff, college students, and members of the public. ............................... bought 332 magazines, 44 fiction and 29 non-fiction books. College students bought .................. magazines, 194 non-fiction and ....................................... . ...................................... were sold to college students than to any other groups of customers. Although no fiction books were sold to ............................., they purchased 122 non-fiction books and 82 magazines. ....................................... bought more fiction (76) and non-fiction books (942) than any other customers. On the other hand, magazine sales to Club Members (33) were .............................. any other type of customers. ............................................................... sold for the month was 3134 (1474 to college students, 405 to staff, 204 to the public, and 1051 to book club members) Of this figure, 151 items were ........................and 1287 were ........................ . ................................., magazines ................................. the greatest number of sales (1696).
Practice 7

A lot of administrative work is done after the IELTS Test. Below is a chart of what happens to the candidates IELTS Test after the test has been completed. Complete the report using the prompts given.

Chart / show / what / administrative procedures / carry out / from / when / examination / complete / to when / marks / send / candidate// Reading/ listening tests / collect / and / mark / by / administrator // administrator/ then / retain / marks / and / wait / other test scores to come in// Speaking test/ assess / by / examiner // then / marks / send / administrator// interview tape be / then / send / examination board / where tape be / either reassess / or / store // writing test / mark / by / another examiner /and / marks / send / to / administrator // similarly / writing test paper / send / examination board for / further reassessments or storage.

Reading & Listening collected

Speaking test, completed

Writing test collected

Marked by administrator

Assessed by examiner

Marked by examiner

Interview tape sent to examination board

Marks sent to administrator

Writing answer paper sent to examination board

Marks sent to administrator

Stored

Reassessed

Stored

Reassessed

Marks collated by administrator

and certificate made out

Certificate sent to candidate

Practice 8

The following graph shows the number of visitors to Tabard Towers Theme Park each month last year. Following the graph, there are 15 statements about the data. decide which sentences are true or false according to the diagram. More than one sentence may describe the same data.

1. In the last three months of the year, attendances were off their September peaks, falling back by 30,000 visitors a month till the end of the year. 2. During last year, the trend was obviously upwards. 3. Numbers peaked up in June, rocketing at almost 400%. 4. There was a marked improvement in July with the number of visitors surging 500%. 5. From May through to September, the number of people visiting the theme park monthly rose by approximately 70%. 6. During the first four months, visitor numbers rose gradually. 7. The gradual rise in visitor numbers from 30,000 to approximately 45,000 in the first four months was followed by a sharp increase in May. 8. B etween April and May, the increase in the number of visitors was at a much slower pace than in the previous three months. 9. It is clear that for most of the year, monthly attendances were above trend.

10. In July, the number of visitors shot up dramatically. 11. In July, there was a dramatic increase in visitor numbers to just short of 140,000 people, followed by a sudden decline in August. 12. In July, visitor numbers soared and then suddenly fell back again in the following month. 13. August saw a sharp turnaround in attendances with numbers leaping from just under 80,000 10 140,000 people. 14. The period between May and September saw a steady growth in the number of visitors from 70,000 to 140,000. 15. Attendances at the theme park can be divided into three distinct periods: January to May, June to September and October to December.
Practice 9

The graph below shows the unemployment rates in the US and Japan between March 1993 and March 1999. Write a report for a university lecturer describing the information shown below.

Practice 10

Free Writing 1. The graph below shows the proportion of the population aged 65 and over between 1940 and 2040 in three different countries. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Write at least 150 words.

2. The table below gives information about changes in modes of travel in England between 1985 and 2000. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant. Write at least 150 words Average distance in miles traveled per person per year, by mode of travel Walking Bicycle Car Local bus Long distance bus Train Taxi Other 1985 255 51 3,199 429 54 289 13 450 2000 237 41 4,806 274 124 366 42 585

All modes

4,740

6,475

3. The chart below shows the amount of leisure time enjoyed by men and women of different employment status. Write a report for a university lecture describing the information shown below. You should write at least 150 words Leisure time in a typical week: by sex and employment status, 1998 - 99
100 80 60 40 20 0
Employed full-time Employed part-time Unemployed Retired Housewives

Males Fermales

V. CONSOLIDATION
Work in groups of four. Interview your classmates or students at your college to get information about one of the following areas: 1. Their music tastes 2. Their taste for soft drinks 3. Their taste for ball games Then indicate the information in a bar chart. You can divide the subjects surveyed into two groups: males and females and consider the following possibilities : 1. Music tastes: Pop, jazz, rock and country music 2. Soft drinks: Coke, Pepsi and Mirinda 3. Ball games: Football, basketball and volley ball Finally, write the report of your chart and exchange the writing with other groups to read and revise.