ESL etc.

Global Issues and Activism in English Language Teaching

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Gapminder

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I’ve long been a fan of visual prompts. I like materials that enable quick understanding of issues, so that students can move into discussion, writing, etc. Gapminder is a great site that shows a range of statistics in very accessible ways.

The main section of the site is Gapminder World. The default graph compares life expectancy with GDP, with the dot representing each country sized according to its population, and the dot color representing the geographic region. The power comes from the fact that all of these can be reassigned. There are many, many statistics that can be assigned to the x-axis, the y-axis, dot size and even dot color. It is also possible to view each graph as an animation, seeing how things have changed over time. Play around with it, or check out the tutorial or example graphs.

Another neat resource on the site is the collection of animations illustrating Human Development Trends in 2005. In addition to conveying some interesting information, these animations also would be useful in a unit on understanding graphs. For example, the animation on Differences within Countries illustrates how important information can be lost in averages. For English language learners, a good feature of these animations is that they operate as slideshows, meaning each part can be read at any speed.

Gapminder can be used to quickly create easily comprehensible graphs on a very wide range of issues. Many of the prepared animations would also work well in an ESL / EFL classroom.

Tags: blog · climate change · finance · food and hunger · global issues activities · health · human rights · natural disasters · peace and war · poverty & wealth · slideshow · statistics · the environment · visual prompts · water

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