Describing a table

Describing a table

Learn how to summarise information in a table and write a report on the main features.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and tips and do the exercises.


Reading text

The table below gives information about some of the world's most studied languages. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Language Number of people learning the language Number of native speakers Number of countries where the language is spoken
English 1.5 billion 527 million 101
French 82 million 118 million 51
Chinese 30 million 1.39 billion 33
Spanish 14.5 million 389 million 31
Italian 8 million 67 million 29
Japanese 3 million 123 million 25

The table illustrates some interesting facts about some of the world's most popular languages to learn. It allows comparisons between the number of people who study a language versus those who speak it as a mother tongue, and shows how many countries have speakers of each of the languages.

The prominence of English is striking. 1.5 billion people are learning English compared to only 82 million studying the second most popular language to learn, French. English is spoken in 101 countries, roughly twice as many as French and three times more than Chinese. English is the only language with more learners than native speakers.

In terms of native speakers, Chinese is the most spoken language, more than double English with 1.39 billion. It is the third most popular language to learn with 30 million learners. Spanish has over five times more native speakers than Italian, but proportionally fewer learners at 14.5 million for Spanish and 8 million for Italian. As for Japanese, it is the least studied language of those given with 3 million learners.

Overall, more people are learning English than the other languages combined and English is spoken in the highest number of countries. However, Chinese has by far the greatest number of native speakers. There seems to be little correlation between how many native speakers there are of a language and the number of learners, but there is a stronger link between the number of learners and how many countries have speakers.

Please note: This page was designed for writing practice only. Information and statistics in the table may not be accurate.


  1. Start by saying what information is shown. If you are writing in an exam, try to avoid repeating the same wording as the question, e.g. The table illustrates some interesting facts about some of the world's most popular languages to learn.
  2. In the second paragraph give an overview of the most important features of the information.
  3. Be selective and choose the key observations and trends. You don't have to write about every single detail.
  4. Divide your observations into paragraphs about different aspects of the data. A concluding paragraph is not always necessary.
  5. Don't use your own general knowledge to give reasons for the data or to add more information than is shown. The question only requires you to summarise and report the data in the table.
  6. Use a variety of structures for:
  • making comparisons, e.g. slightly more than, by far the highest, as … as, compared to, double the number of, correlation between
  • approximating, e.g. nearly, roughly, almost
  • stating what you are referring to, e.g. in terms of … , as for … , of those given.

Task 1

Task 2

Task 3


Worksheet112.91 KB

Language level

Average: 4.3 (9 votes)
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Submitted by IMMA GORDO on Tue, 14/04/2020 - 08:00

I'm from Barcelona, my mother tongues are two; Spanish and Catalan. I'm learning English, and I would love to learn French too.

Submitted by hanaa abed alhadi on Sat, 28/03/2020 - 20:32

my native language is Arabic and I love it so much it is an attractive language in every side . besides english language l would like to learn french in order to help my son in his homeworks because l am facing difficults in it.

Submitted by cin5 on Tue, 25/02/2020 - 16:48

My native language is Spanish. I am actually learning another language besides English, it is Italian. My level on it is lower than my English knowledge because I have been studying it just for 7 months. The next language I would like to learn is French since I love romance languages, though Russian is always on my mind too, cyrillic alphabet is very interesting to me.

Submitted by hrahmani on Mon, 17/02/2020 - 13:13

Apart from English, I would like to learn one of the Latin languages, probably Spanish. My experience in learning French proved me that Latin languages are harder to learn compared to English, at least for me. In any way, as a person who likes travelling, communicating with people of all nations and learning of other cultures I think learning Spanish can help me a lot in achieving my goals. Indeed, learning about other cultures is not the only motivation for me to learn Spanish. While listening to the dialogues and conversations between Spanish spoken people I found the accent and the pronunciations very interesting. I feel a great amount of emotion is embedded into this language. This further motivates me to learn this language. Any way, I have no free time these days to learn Spanish. Hence, it will stay as a future plan!
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Submitted by Chiquado on Thu, 09/05/2019 - 15:44

Apart from english and my local language, i would like to learn french.