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Analyzing Chart and Graphs,
a Listener's Point of View. In an academic or professional setting, it is common to hear presentations where
the speaker includes charts or graphs. Why is that? Well, charts and graphs can easily
show data about variable or show relationships between variables. Data is usually collected from
experiments or surveys, and the results are often used to support
the speakers point about a topic. There are three popular charts and
graphs that you should be aware of, a line graph, a bar graph and
a pie chart A line graph. This is often used to show how
something changes over time. It is usually a line formed by connected
points on a graph, a bar graph. This is a good tool to show data that can
be separated into categories or groups. It can be used to show changes over
time or differences between categories. A pie chart, this is an easy tool to show
proportions in relation to the whole. When the speaker starts
to introduce a graph or chart it, as the listener it is important
for you to think about the following areas to aid in you understanding what
is the premise of the experiment? What is the researcher trying to find out? You need to pay attention
to the introduction. Usually the speaker will give a quick
introduction about this by giving a signal like in year,
name of researcher tried to find out. In many cases the speaker will provide
an image of the chart or graph and continue to talk about it using keywords
like, the chart shows, the graph shows, or the finding show. Keep in mind that the speaker may or may
not explain the chart or graph in detail. So if you are not able to
catch all the information, try to notice what text appears in
the chart or graph to make a guess. If however, the speaker decides to explain
in detail, it's helpful for you to be familiar with vocabulary and language
that is related to the specific graph or chart I will start with line graphs first. Again, line graphs are often used to show changes over time, but not in all cases. In a line graph you have the x-axis or
the horizontal axis. Then you have the y-axis or
the vertical axis. These represent two variables that
the researcher is using to study the data. The speaker can choose to focus on one set
of data in which there is only one line. Or the graph can have two or more lines, which means the speaker not only wants to focus on two sets of data, and how they change over time, but how they
are similar or different from each other. Here is a study that is comparing two
women who are training themselves to swim for five laps. On the x axis we see practice numbers. On the y axis we see minutes. The study is about seeing
how much time each women takes to swim five laps
over five practice sessions. There is a box here, that has line
colors and the name of the two women. This box is called a legend, and it is usually telling you which
line represent's which data set. Here, the blue line represent's Shonda and
the orange line represent's Karen. Speakers will often use language
of change to describe line graphs. For Shonda between practice one and two there was an increase of
one minute to swim five laps. However, from practice two
to practice five there was a steady decrease of
time it took to finish. By the fifth practice she hit a low
of six minutes to do five laps. Looking at Karen's performance,
she had an overall downward trend, because she started with 12 minutes for
5 laps in the first practice. But by the fifth practice,
she reached a low of 3 minutes. From practice 2 to 3, you can see a significant decline
from 9 minutes to 4 minutes. From practice three to four she
plateaued at three minutes. For both swimmers there was a negative
correlation between the number of practices and the amount of time
it took to complete the laps. In other words the more they practiced
the less time it took for them to complete the goal given the graph, I could not use
every type of language to show change. So refer to the chart below to
see variations of the language. Speakers sometimes add adverbs or
phrases to change the speed of going up or down like gradually, at a steady rate,
sharply, significantly. To show you how sudden or
not sudden the changes, gradually and a steady rate do not show sudden change
while sharply or significantly do. Bar graphs are similar to line graphs and
that there is an x axis and a y axis. While it is still possible to show
change over time, many researchers use bar graphs to study similarities or
differences across different categories. What this means is that it is possible to
have a variety of categories on the x axis Take a look at this bar graph. A new building is being build and
there's a large room that the director of the school is deciding
on what to change it to. She decided to make a survey
to ask students to choose from the following categories. Sleeping room, game room,
study room, cafe, or exercise room? She was also interested to see how female
and male students vote differently. Here are the results. I will now be using language
to show comparisons. The findings show that both male and
female students prefer the room to become a cafe the most
and they prefer the study room the least. Female students prefer a sleeping room
slightly more than male students. The number of males who prefer an exercise
room is about two times more than females. The number of males who prefer
a game room is about the same as males who prefer a sleeping room. Comparison language can be looked at in the following continuum, be the least, be less than, be the same as,
be more than, and be the most. For be less than and be more than,
it is possible for the speaker to show the amount of difference with words like a
lot, significantly, slightly, or a little. It's also possible to use number times
more than or number times less than. Look at the following example. There were 52 males and
25 females who wanted the exercise room. That's a little more than two times. The number of males is about
two times more than females or the number of females is about
two times less than males. Did you notice I used about 2 times more? Well there are some words that show the number is not exact, but close in amount. Like approximately,
around, nearly or about. Lastly, pie charts are used to show a
situation where there are parts to a whole and you are trying to compare the parts. For example using the same survey from the bar graph let's just take a look at
the male students results. In total, there were 191 male students
who participated in the survey. The largest group of male students
prefer the room to be a cafe At 32%. A little over a quarter of the students
prefer it to be an exercise room. A fifth of the students
prefer it to be a game room. 18% of the students prefer
it to be a sleeping room. Finally, a very small minority of
students prefer it to be a study room. From the underlined parts you can see
that the speaker may choose to describe the parts in the following ways using
adjectives, percentages or fractions. Please be aware that the language
that I have just reviewed is not specific to each graph or chart. What I mean is that it's possible to
find percentages in line graphs or language of change in a bar graph. Naturally, it is difficult for
you, as the listener, to predict which words the speaker
will use during the presentation. But remember, the more practice you
have listening to this kind of language, the more you can catch. Also, a graph or
a chart is just part of the presentation. If you are not able to catch all
the descriptions, don't worry. The key is to understand what overall
point the speaker is trying to convey with the results.

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