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Teaching Writing Descriptive Text Using Pictures

A picture is a general language which is able to be understood and can be enjoyed everywhere. Picture provides for most people critical contacts with the real world. According to Raimes (1983), pictures (drawings, photographs, posters, slides, cartoons, magazine advertisement, diagrams, graphs, tables, charts, and maps) can be valuable resources for teaching writing. She further states that the teacher can find valuable resources in pictures. Picture provides a shared experience for students in the class, a common base that leads to a variety of language activities. In addition, she states that picture can be the basis for not just one task but many, such as sequencing of sentences to the writing of original dialogues, letters, reports, or essays. Furthermore, she states, because everybody likes to look at pictures, their use in the classroom provides a stimulating focus for students’ attention. A picture brings the outside world into the classroom in a vividly concrete way. Finally, a picture is a valuable resource as it provides (1) a shared experience in the classroom, (2) a need for common language forms to use in the classroom, (3) a variety of task, and (4) a focus of interest for students.

Additionally, Finocchiaro (1981: 275) mentions that media can help the learning process simpler and make it perfect. The media will allow students to understand better the content of what being taught. Media can also help to shape the learning process as well as interest in the language program and thus provide motivational impulse.

Wright (1989) adds that pictures give contribution to students’ interest and motivation, sense of language in context, and stimulate students’ ideas. The roles of pictures in productive skills (speaking and writing) are (1) picture can draw students’ motivation and attention and make them participate in learning; (2) pictures can create contextualized language learning activity; (3) pictures may raise interpretation objectively and subjectively; (4) pictures may refer to response of questions, or as controlled practices; and (5) pictures can stimulate and give information in dealing with conversation, story telling and discussion. He, furthermore, mentions that there are five practical criteria of pictures to be applied in the classroom, (1) easy to prepare, (2) easy to organize, (3) interesting, (4) meaningful and authentic, and (5) sufficient amount of the language in order to justify its conclusion in the language lesson.

Heaton (1990:107) states that, in everyday life, students may sometimes be required to describe people, objects, places, and even processes. There will also be times when they will have to write about sequences of events, incidents, etc. and give directions. Pictures provide students with ideas for such tasks, enabling them to give their full attention to using written language.

When we talk about pictures, they include flash cards. Flash cards can be in the form of photographs, drawings, or pictures cut from magazines, and newspapers. For a language instruction, drawings or pictures are necessary to use (Brown, et, al: 1983). The picture or drawing will be effective if they are used in the flash card. The pictures in the flash should be big enough, interesting, and clear for students to see. If the pictures are not big enough, not interesting, and not clear, the students will get confused to describe them. The pictures can make students’ imagination deviate from what they are expected to produce. To avoid this, a teacher must follow the above criteria.


Brown, J. W. Lewis, R. B. And Harcleroad, F.F. 1983. Audio Visual Instruction. New York: McGraw Hill, Inc.

Finocchiaro, M. 1981. The Second Language Classroom. New York: Oxford University Press

Heaton, J. B. 1990. Classroom Testing. New York: Longman

Raimes, A. 1983. Techniques in Teaching Writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Wright, A. 1989. Pictures for Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


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