In brief, Google Trends allows you to enter a subject in much the same way you would with the Google search engine. However, instead of getting a list of websites, you are presented with a graph showing how often this subject has been searched for. You can refine this graph for particular geographical regions and for specific time periods. For example, this is the graph for the term ‘blended learning‘ for 2007. You can also enter several topics to produce a graph with several lines. This example here shows that, despite the terrible weather experienced by parts of the UK during the summer of 2007, many people persisted in making plans for camping holidays.
Describing trends is a common business English function. It occured to me that Google Trends could be a useful tool for creating instant graphs for that stage in the lesson when your learners have chance to demonstrate the trends language they have acquired. I have yet to try it out. If anyone has beaten me to it or is now planning to try it, I’d be interested to hear how it went.