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Research Project Activity

English as a Second Language


Research Projects for ESL Students


Reading and understanding graphs and charts is a critical CASAS skill that appears frequently in the CASAS test questions. Having students work in teams to complete a simple in-class research project, graph the results using the spreadsheet program Excel, and then present the results to the rest of the class orally while accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation that they’ve also created, is a dynamic end-of-the-semester project that also helps your students perform well on the CASAS tests. Students can also create a "stand-alone" PowerPoint presentation using the "Record Narration" feature in which they explain their project as the slides change automatically.

The research projects provide an opportunity for ESL students to work in teams, speak English with a purpose in mind (gathering the data, communicating about various aspects of the project), demonstrate critical thinking, and practice presentation skills over the course of several days. Typical topics that students have researched include determining the countries of origin of students in the class, the times when students arrive and depart on a particular day, and the length of time that students in the class have been living in the United States, or favorite pets or colors. Some students have done research in the community or at their jobs, for example describing the numbers and types of garments produced on the sewing floor in any given month at the factory where they were working at the time.

While the students have fun doing the research and creating their slideshows, the high point of the semester is the final presentation of the results accompanied by their 4 or 5 slide PowerPoint presentation. In addition to practicing their presentation skills (speaking loudly and clearly, facing the audience, using a laser pointer), the student presenters also respond to questions from the audience and invited guests.

Graphs displaying research results in Excel


The kind of pets that the people in room A7 on Friday, March 30, 2007 prefer

What kind of seafood do the students in Mr. Bakin's class on Friday, March 30, 2007 like to eat?


PowerPoint presentations created by students
(Click on the link to download the PowerPoint file)


How many hours a day do students in the class watch TV?

What is the favorite color of a random group of 60 people at Tobias Park on July 24, 2006?

How many students were in the class at different times during the class period?

What are the pets that the people in room A7 prefer?

What are the favorite cakes of the students who were in class on Friday, March 30, 2007?

What kind of seafood do the students in Mr. Bakin's class on Friday March 30, 2007 like to eat?


Videos of students presenting their PowerPoint Slideshows

Presentations of Intermediate Low Level students (click on the links below)


Glenda presenting "Favorite sports"

Juana presenting "Favorite drinks"


Laura presenting "Favorite places"

Rocio presenting "Favorite cakes"

Rosalva presenting "Favorite colors"

Sandra presenting "Favorite types of books"

Carmen presenting "Favorite sports"

Jose Luis presenting "Favorite sports"

Lester presenting "Why do you want to learn English?"

Jesus presenting "Favorite types of music"

Rosalba presenting "Favorite ways to relax"

Shan presenting "Favorite seafood"

Eduardo presenting "Types of relationships"

Sofia presenting "Favorite flowers"

Magali presenting "Favorite ice cream"

Omar presenting "Salaries of students"

Eva presenting "Favorite foods"


PowerPoint Presentations with narration

Fernando describing his team's project "Favorite Sports Shoes" (opens as a .wmv movie)

Edna describing her team's project "What encouraged you to study at Pacoima Skills Center?" (opens as a .wmv movie)


Step-by-Step Instructions

Step-by-Step Instructions for creating a simple chart using Excel (download a .pdf document) pdf2.jpg

Step-by-Step Instructions for creating a simple PowerPoint slideshow to accompany an oral presentation (download a .pdf document)  pdf2.jpg 

pdf2.jpgIt requiers Adobe's Acrobat Reader