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Describing a Place

Describing a Place

The first time I taught a writing class, I quickly grew tired of the anemic descriptions that I got from many students. I got descriptions like: There are a lot of nice things you can do there. It is very beautiful. You can swim, etc. . .

If you want your students to produce a rich description of a place, try this exercise in guided writing. Have your student imagine a place they are fond of. It can be a place they go to relax, or to enjoy themselves. Once they have a place in mind, ask the following questions and have them respond freely in writing. It is best not to hurry through this exercise. Give your students time to meditate on their responses.

  • What is the name of the place you are thinking about?
  • How do you get to this place?
  • What is the first thing you see when you arrive there?
  • If you turn to the right, what do you see? And to the left?
  • What does the air smell like?
  • If you reach out and touch something, how does it feel?
  • What are the colors you see?
  • What sounds do you hear?
  • Are there people there? What are they doing?
  • What objects, plants, animals are there?
  • How do you feel?

These are just some of the many questions you can ask during this exercise. The exercise can also be adapted for descriptions of people, or for responding to literature. You ask the questions. The students respond in writing. Their responses form the basis for essays that have more energy, and more vivid detail.

–Adapted from One World, One People ESL Lessons

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