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How to Describe a Picture in English (Oxford Online English) PRACTICE 3 - part of lesson E
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A practical lesson on describing pictures. By Oxford.

In this lesson, you can learn how to describe a picture in English.
Describing a picture is useful in many English exams; you need to describe images in English for exams like FCE, TOEIC or PTE.

It’s also a good way to practise your general English skills. Take an interesting picture, and try to describe it in English. You can practise your speaking and learn some new English vocabulary!
In this lesson, you can learn how to describe a picture in English in clear, detailed language. We’ll show you how to build an answer step-by-step.

See the full version of this lesson on our website: https://www.oxfordonlineenglish.com/describe-pictures

Contents:
1. How to Summarise What You See 0:48
2. How to Describe Where Things Are 2:38
3. Adding Detail to Your Description 4:37
4. Speculating About the Picture 7:08
5. Speculating About the Context of the Picture 10:15
6. Making a Longer Answer 12:06

This lesson will help you:
- Learn how to make a summary of what you see.
- Use more detail when you describe a picture in English.
- Understand how to explain where things are in the picture.
- Learn how to speculate, or make assumptions, when describing a picture.
- Make guesses about the context of a picture.
- Create longer answers when you describe a picture in English.

(Transcribed with AI)

Hi, I'm Michael.
Welcome to Oxford Online English.
In this lesson, you can learn how to describe a picture in English.

Describing a picture is useful in many English exams; you need to describe a picture in English for exams like FCE, TOEIC, or PTE. It’s also a good way to practise your general English skills. Take an interesting picture, and try to describe it in English. You can practise your speaking and learn some new English vocabulary!

In this lesson, you can learn how to describe a picture in English in clear, detailed language. We’ll show you how to build an answer step-by-step.

Summary
What’s the best way to start your description? Start with a summary, giving a general description of what’s in the picture and what you can see. It’s useful to imagine that the person you’re talking to can’t see the picture. Think: what does the other person need to know? What do you need to say so that other people can understand what’s in the picture?

Let’s do an example. You want to summarize what you see in one or two simple sentences. How could you do that? You could say:

  • There are several small boats next to a beach.
  • Or, The picture shows a beach, with many small boats in the water nearby.

Simple summaries like this make it easy to understand the general contents of the picture.

Let’s do one more: What could you say here? Here are some possible answers:

  • There are three people cooking in a kitchen.
  • Or, The picture shows three young friends cooking together.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Here’s another picture: You need to make a summary of what you see. You can use these phrases:

  • There is…
  • There are…
  • The picture shows…

Pause the video, and make one or two sentences. You can write down your answers if you want.

Detail
To start giving detail, you can talk about where things are in the picture. Here’s some useful language to help you do this:

Let’s do an example. You could say:

  • On the left, there’s a girl with dark, curly hair. She’s holding half a cauliflower.
  • In the middle, there’s a man who’s chopping vegetables.
  • At the bottom, we can see a counter with many different vegetables on it.

When talking about photos, you might also need the phrases:

  • In the background…
  • In the foreground…

For example:

  • In the foreground, there’s a sandy beach with three metal anchors on it.
  • In the middle, there are several small boats, which are close to the beach.
  • In the background, we can see the blue sea stretching to the horizon.

Let’s put all of this language together in another example: Think first: what could you say about this picture?

Okay, let’s look at what you could say:

  • On the left, there’s a cat sitting on a table.
  • On the right, there’s a man standing, though we can’t see his face.
  • In the background, we can see blue sky and snowy mountains.

Now it’s your turn! Here’s a picture: Pause the video, and make at least three sentences. Use the useful language you saw in this section. Again, you can write your sentences down if you want to!

Speculating
Speculating… What does that mean? Speculating means talking about possibilities. For example, look at this picture: Think about some questions:

  • Why are the umbrellas there?
  • Who put them there?

By trying to answer questions like this, you are speculating; you’re talking about possibilities and giving your opinion about the picture. Speculating can help you to make a longer, more detailed answer when talking about a picture.

Let’s do an example:

  • I suppose it might be some kind of art project.
  • Maybe one person put an umbrella up there as a joke, and then other people started doing it, too.

Let’s look at one more picture: Think, if you wanted to speculate about this picture, what could you say? Another way to think about it: what questions could you ask yourself about this picture? Possible ideas are: who made the footprints, and why? Where were they going? Where is the person who made the footprints now? There are other possibilities, of course, so feel free to use your own ideas, too!

Okay, so what could you say to speculate about this picture? Here are some examples:

  • The footprints must have been made by a climber or a mountaineer.
  • The person who made the footprints might be standing on top of the mountain now.

In our examples, you’ve seen some useful language which you can use to speculate about a picture. Do you remember? You can use language like:

  • I suppose…
  • Maybe…
  • [It] must…
  • [He] might…

Let’s practise using these once more with another picture: Could you make four sentences, using the useful language we just saw?

Finished?
I don’t think so! You should practise as much as you can. Take the other pictures from the lesson, and make longer answers about them, too. Practise your answers several times, until you can do it fluently and comfortably. If you want, you can leave one of your answers in the comments and we'll give you feedback on your English.

Don't forget to check out Oxford Online English.com for more of our free English lessons. Thanks for watching! See you next time!



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