TELC UK- Training, Education and Language Courses in London
helping you learn and develop your skills

TELC UK Training, Education and Language Courses in North London

helping you learn and develop your skills
13 Apr 2012

Improve your spoken English

How to improve your ability to speak English through picture description

Are you worried about making mistakes, fearful of criticism or maybe you have nothing to say? Becoming fluent and boosting your confidence are the two main factors that learners find difficult to overcome when using English language orally.

Pictures are a great way of improving your ability to speak English. You can use photos in order to perfect your pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and general performance in various situations. Gazing at the picture and thinking about it is not actually an ideal way to enrich your speaking skills. No-one has ever learned how to dance by looking at the dancers. Remember that practice makes perfect, so use your voice to discuss or describe the photo you are looking at (e.g. what is happening in it, what objects are present in the image).

There are various ways on how to approach each picture in order to practice speaking, here are some useful tips:


Describing a picture

This activity is appropriate for every type of a photo. While describing an image, learners focus on its content, in particular the new vocabulary concerning a particular topic. You can describe a picture on your own or with a partner, discuss the quantity of the objects, appearance and background etc (practise here). 



When discussing a picture try to talk from the position of the person displayed in it. Particularly present the thoughts on a specific topic, you can also restrict your monologue by given time.



When given a picture of the environment where the dialogue takes place ( a town, dining room, a portrait of a person, etc) act as one of the objects in the photo. You get the best results if you do this activity in pairs, when you react mutually and spontaneously on your partner’s utterance. However, when doing it on your own, will give you more pronunciation practice ( intonation, modulating your voice in order to distinguish two or more characters).


Role play

Similarly to dialogues, you are given a more specific task to act a particular person, in a given situation.


Seeking and giving information

You seek information on subjects for which you have some basic vocabulary. For instance, you need to get some information from the partner by asking questions in order to guess the name of an unknown subject, place or person.


Story telling

Pictures develop your imagination. In order to exploit the pictures more, get disorganised pictures and put them into right order first. Then narrate the story according to the pictures. For example, the stories can refer to a historical event, which you are aware of, and have to retell it, or make up own stories.


Picture differences*

The task is to compare two pictures and find differences between them. Conversely, you can seek for things which the pictures have in common


Find out more about improving your speaking skills here:


Learn English through pictures

Speaking in pairs and groups

Speak through pictures

Speaking matters: Pairwork

Find the difference activities

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