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How to Use Diagrams and Charts Effectively in English Language Teaching

November 20, 2011 by sultanzeydan · 8 Comments · ACTIVITIES, grammar, reading, speaking, vocabulary, writing

Sometimes pictures/shapes/diagrams are more effective than words, so I’ve decided to bring together creative diagrams and shapes to make English Language Learning more fun and interesting. I also can’t deny the inspiration of Teaching Unplugged by Meddings & Thornbury (2009) to write this blog post. I’m sure the following activities will make your lessons more fun and more student-based.


Life Circle
  • First of all, draw the shape below on the board.

  • Tell the students to draw these circles on a piece of paper and think about the things that they don’t like in each circle.
  • Divide the class into pairs and tell them to interview with each other about their life circles.
  • The activity is suitable to be adapted into writing. Instead of an interview, the students can write a paragraph about their life circles.
  • It is also possible to change the topic and the names of each circle accordingly.
Star Shape
  • Draw a star shape on the board and write five senses around it.
  • Tell the students to brainstorm some memorable events related to five senses such as a traffic accident or a moment of beautiful sunset with a special person.
  • Next, divide the class into groups and ask them to share their findings with each other.
A Square within the Other
  • Draw the following shape on the board and make groups of four.

  • The group members write their similarities inside the square while writing the differences into the triangles. Each triangle belongs to a group member.
  • Afterwards, the groups come together and compare their answers.
  • Instead of asking students to write about themselves, you can also use this shape to compare anything (eg: cities, technology or films, etc…)
Summary Chart
  • This is one of my favorite charts that I mostly use towards the end of the lesson. At first, tell the students to draw the chart below on their notebooks and summarize what they have learned in each activity during the lesson. 

  • The students are expected to write a simple formula or an example showing the rule for the grammar section, new words and collocations for the vocabulary part, and lastly, decide on which type of skill (skimming, scanning, fluently speaking, etc…) they’ve practiced more.
Up and Down
The following diagram is quite suitable for several tasks.
  • One of them is to create fictional stories according to the up and downs of the chart. Divide the class into groups, and then give a starting sentence for the story. The groups create a story according to the up and down edges of the diagram.
  • In another activity, tell the students to draw a similar diagram indicating their mood during the week. After they complete their drawings, divide the class into pairs and tell them to interview with each other asking questions related to what happened.




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