In some speaking exams you have to talk about photos or pictures. The video and tips below from British Council will help you to do really well in this type of speaking exam.
Here are our top tips for describing a photo or a picture in an exam.
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- Look at your picture carefully and take a few moments to think before you start talking.
- Talk for all the time you are given. If you have one minute to do the task, use every second.
- Practise the useful language below so you can explain which part of the picture you are talking about.
- Panic if you don’t know the words for all the things in the picture. You don’t need to know all the words for everything in the picture if you know what to say when you don’t know an exact word.
- Get distracted and start talking about something else. Focus on the photo or picture.
- Panic if your mind goes blank. Take a deep breath, look at the picture and start again.
If you are asked to describe a photo or a picture in the exam, here is some language you can use:
What is in the picture?
In the picture I can see …
There’s / There are …
There isn’t a … / There aren’t any …
Say what is happening with the present continuous
The man is …ing
The people are …ing
If something isn’t clear
It looks like a …
It might be a …
He could be …ing
Maybe it’s a …
OTHER USEFUL LANGUAGE:
1. GIVE A GENERAL INTRODUCTION
‘This picture shows …’
‘In this picture I can see…’
‘This is a picture of …’
2. TALK ABOUT PLACES
‘They’re walking in the country/in a city/in the mountains’
‘She’s talking inside/outside a cafe’ or ‘I can see a street market/old building/square/
3. DESCRIBE PEOPLE’S AGE
‘He’s about 40 years old’
‘They’re in their eighties’
‘She’s a teenager/a young child/a middle-aged woman’
4. DESCRIBE PEOPLE’S CLOTHES
‘She’s wearing a pair of glasses and a blue T-shirt’
‘They’re wearing quite casual/smart clothes’
‘He’s wearing a school/work uniform’
5. DESCRIBE PEOPLE’S ACTIONS
‘He’s sitting at a desk/table’
‘She’s standing in a queue/line’
‘They’re having Breakfast/lunch/dinner’
‘Some people are playing on the beach and others are sunbathing’
6. DESCRIBE PEOPLE’S ROLES IN A PICTURE
‘He’s probably a shop assistant and she’s a customer’
‘This person on the left seems to be a tourist guide – he’s pointing to a building’
‘The man serving the drinks is a waiter’
7. DESCRIBE PEOPLE’S FEELINGS IN A PICTURE
‘You can tell they are enjoying themselves because they are smiling’
‘He seems a bit frightened. Maybe this is the first time he’s tried this’
‘She looks very interested in this activity – she’s concentrating very hard’
PARAPHRASE (use these phrases to describe words you don’t know)
‘It’s something you fry food in’ (frying pan)
‘It’s a kind of container for flowers’ (a vase)
‘It’s a cupboard for keeping clothes in’ (a wardrobe).
8. MAKE GUESSES
‘It might be summer because some people are wearing sunglasses’
‘It’s probably in the country, because’
‘This picture could be in Northern Europe because of the buildings’
9. DESCRIBE POSITION
‘In the middle of the picture there is a family
making a salad …’
‘In the background there are some white
‘There’s a window next to the cupboards.
1. ‘In the top left corner …’
2. ‘In the top left corner…’
3. ‘In the bottom right corner…’
4. ‘In the bottom left corner…’
5. ‘In the middle …’
6. ‘In the foreground…’
7. ‘In the background…’
8. ‘in the middle on the right…’