GUIDELINES, TECHNIQUES & EXAM TIPS
Mª CRISTINA C. B.
IN THE BACKGROUND… IT LOOKS LIKE… IN THIS PICTURE..
GUIDELINES, TECHNIQUES & EXAM TIPS
LET ME SEE… AS I SEE IT… IT SHOWS… AT THE TOP…
A picture description is an ideal way of practising your English vocabulary in all sorts of fields. Pictures provide serious language practice and can be invaluable in the classroom for stimulating discussion and bringing enormous variety to lessons. They also provide the teacher with a flexible and convenient tool to test many different things in exams.
Here you have some techniques and exam tips I have put together to help you describe a picture or photograph. Study them carefully and decide on how to structure your picture description. Don´t worry if you find it a bit difficult at first, we´ll practise a lot to make things easier in time. I´ve also included some exercises that we´ll correct in a future revision class.
After all, as the saying has it: “A picture paints a
M. Cristina C. B.
What happens when I have to describe a picture? It´s simple. The examiner gives you a picture and asks you to say what you see. He or she may also ask you to give an opinion or comment on the content of the picture. What does this test? That depends on what the examiner is looking for. It can test fluency, vocabulary, stress, pronunciation and rhythms of speech, ability to communicate, grammatical accuracy and interactive communication. And probably it can test them all at the same time. How should I approach this type of test? Here are some useful techniques and guidelines for describing pictures. You will not need to use all of them every time but it will be useful to be familiar with them.
TECHNIQUES 1. Describe where things are in the picture
Make sure you are familiar with the language used to describe where something is in a picture. Check that you know how to use the phrases in the boxes below: IN THE TOP LEFT (-HAND) CORNER AT THE TOP IN THE TOP RIGHT (-HAND) CORNER
ON THE LEFT (-HAND) SIDE
Look carefully at the photos. Think how to describe what you can see. Take your time to do it. Be as precise as you can when you describe the photo itself. Use some ‘position’ language if it helps. Use present continuous verbs to describe what is happening. If there is a person or people in the photo, you will need to describe their appearance. Answer questions as fully as possible. Keep talking, give details, explain your point, ask questions, paraphrase, don´t get stuck on words…. Any device that demonstrates that you can carry a topic through will help your performance. Try to direct the conversation towards something you are interested in and can talk about easily. Speak naturally and be animated! Keep eye contact with the examiner, be friendly and show a positive attitude.
IN THE MIDDLE
ON THE RIGHT (-HAND) SIDE
Don´t worry if you don´t understand immediately what is going on in the picture. Don´t worry if you don´t know the precise words for what you can see; use alternatives. Don´t use the present simple to describe what is happening. Don´t use general language to describe people. You should use vocabulary of the level required. Don´t give too many one - or two – word answers. Avoid answers which are single words or lists. Silence is you enemy! If you are not a talkative person by nature, you must make an extra effort for the test. Don´t feel you have to stick rigidly to the subject. Don´t give complicated explanations if you are not sure. Don´t be shy! This is your chance to show how well you can speak. Smile and relax!
IN THE BOTTOM LEFT (-HAND) CORNER
AT THE BOTTOM
IN THE BOTTOM RIGHT (-HAND) CORNER
Fill in the gaps with the correct ‘position’ language:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
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