Speaking Skills: Talking about pictures
In this week's Premier Skills English podcast, Rich and Jack talk about photos and pictures. They describe some photographs and ask you to find the photos that are being described. They focus on words and phrases that are often used when describing photos. This lesson could also be useful if you want to pass an international exam such as IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge ESOL or Aptis. We also have a new football phrase for you to guess. Enjoy!
Speaking Skills: Talking about a picture
Rich: Hi Jack. What’s that you’re looking at?
Jack: Oh, hi Rich. It’s just some holiday photos.
Rich: Nice. Did you take them?
Jack: Most of them. My wife took some of them.
Rich: Where’s that one?
Jack: Ah - that was nice. I took that one in Indonesia.
Rich: And what about that one? What’s happening there?
Jack: Ha ha - that was when my son fell in a puddle. He wasn’t looking where he was going
and he slipped and fell.
Rich: He doesn’t look very happy.
Jack: No, he wasn’t. He dropped his toys and as you can see, he got very muddy.
Rich: And what did you do?
Jack: Well ... erm ... I took a picture.
Welcome - talking about a picture
Rich: Hello my name’s Rich
Jack: and I’m Jack
Rich: and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.
Jack: What’s happening this week, Rich?
Rich: In this week’s podcast, we’re talking about pictures.
Jack: Holiday pictures?
Rich: Not just holiday pictures. You see, there are two reasons for looking at the language you need when you are talking about pictures.
Jack: OK. What are they?
Rich: The first is it’s a good practice activity for using the present tense. It’s quite a natural thing to do, to say what is happening in a picture.
Jack: And the second, I’m guessing is for exams?
Rich: Exactly. In lots of speaking exams, you have to talk about pictures so it’s a really good thing to practise if you’re ever thinking of taking an English exam like an IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge ESOL or Aptis.
Jack: We’re going to start by describing some pictures that you can find on the Premier League website.
Rich: We’ll put a link on the page below the podcast on Premier Skills English, but we won’t tell you exactly which picture we’re talking about. You need to have a look at the page and try to find the pictures.
Jack: After we’ve spoken about a couple of pictures, we’re going to look at the language and we’re going to focus on the phrases we use rather than the grammar.
Rich: And after that, there’s a task for you to do. We want you to share a picture that’s important to you and describe it.
Jack: At the bottom of the page, there’s a place where you can upload your picture and a place to type your description.
Rich: If we get enough, we will put your pictures and images into a gallery on the page.
Jack: And don’t forget to listen to the end of the podcast because there’s another football phrase for you to guess.
Topic - talking about a picture
Rich: I love pictures like this one.
Jack: Yeah, me too. By the way, we’re looking at the Best photos of Matchweek 32 gallery on the Premier League’s website. There’s a link on the page below the podcast.
Rich: As I was saying, I love pictures like this one. I always enjoy choosing action shots for the website but maybe we should choose more like these.
Jack: Yeah, ones that catch players in funny positions.
Rich: Exactly. I mean, if there wasn’t a football in the frame, you’d have no idea what was going on.
Jack: Well, they are wearing football kits.
Rich: Yes, but ...
Jack: And they are on a football pitch.
Rich: Yes, I know but...
Jack: And you can see the crowd in the background.
Rich: Uh Uh ...
Jack: And that’s West Brom’s Craig Dawson and behind him are Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood for Burnley.
Rich: OK OK - perhaps not no idea. But what’s Craig Dawson doing? It looks like he’s doing a jig or clicking his heels together like he’s dancing rather than playing football.
Jack: Yes and Ashley Barnes is standing behind him with his eyes closed.
Rich: I think he’s blinking.
Jack: Hmmm. Good observation. I doubt he runs around the football pitch with his eyes closed.
Rich: That wouldn’t be very clever.
Jack: OK. So is that everything?
Rich: Well there’s another player, you say that’s Chris Wood in the background?
Jack: Yes, he’s a bit out of focus, but you can still make him out.
Rich: He’s watching the ball.
Jack: ... OK - I think we’ve done a good job describing that picture. Let’s try another one.
Rich: OK. This one’s a bit different. We’re looking at another gallery. This time the gallery is all about the Premier Skills project in Guwahati in India. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Guwahati.ogg
Jack: There are some great pictures here. Lots of group shots. It looks like the coaches are having lots of fun with all the participants on the course.
Rich: The Premier Skills coaches work hard, but they always look like they are having a good time.
Jack: Shall we pick this one?
Rich: Good choice. OK. So what’s going on in this picture?
Jack: There are lots of people in the picture. There are lots of young people and a man.They all have their hands in the air.
Rich: What do you think they are doing?
Jack: I’m not sure. They could be cheering.
Rich: ... or stretching?
Jack: They all look like they are shouting.
Rich: They are all standing in a circle around the man. He’s wearing a purple t-shirt.
Jack: He’s one of the coaches.
Rich: So it looks like he’s leading the cheering.
Jack: and everyone else is standing around him in a big circle.
Rich: Where are they?
Rich: I know that, I mean how would you describe the location of the photograph?
Jack: Ah. OK - they’re outside. You can see trees in the background.
Rich: And they are on grass so I think it’s a football pitch.
Jack: Or training ground.
Rich: It looks nice and sunny.
Jack: Well, they are in Guwahati.
Jack: In the last section, we spoke about two pictures. In this next section, we’re going to focus on some of the phrases we used; and more words and phrases that you can use to talk about an image.
Rich: It’s a good idea to start with the obvious.
Jack: What do you mean?
Rich: Well, what’s it a picture of?
Jack: OK - so you can say: This is a picture of a ...
Rich: Exactly. It’s a picture of ... or ... a photo of ...
Jack: And then you can start talking about details. So you might say. I can see a man or you can
see a man. Hmmm. Is there any difference between those two phrases?
Rich: I can see a man in a red shirt. You can see a man in a red shirt. They seem the same to me. I think I would say you. You can see a ... feels more natural to me.
Jack: Let’s move on to the action.
Rich: Earlier, I described one of the photos as an action shot.
Jack: That’s an interesting phrase. It’s not quite a genre of photography, like a portrait or a landscape.
Rich: No, but it’s similar. I think it’s useful to be able to talk about different types of photograph and action shot is a useful phrase. It means a shot that captures an action when it’s happening - that freezes the action.
Jack: You could also describe a group shot if there’s a group of people or a close up shot if the photographer has zoomed in really close to the subject. Let’s put an activity on the page below about different genres of photography and different types of shot.
Rich: When you are talking about a picture, there is usually someone in the picture and unless it’s a portrait, the people will be doing something.
Jack: When you describe a picture, use the present continuous. Say what is happening. Earlier you said, ‘they are all standing in a circle.’
Rich: That’s right. We’re not talking about grammar today so we’ll just say this. Use the present continuous to describe the action.
Jack: OK. The next thing to think about is where things are in the picture. You can talk about the foreground and the background.
Rich: This is a fancy way of saying the front and the back. In the foreground, you can see the details that were close to the photographer or artist and in the background are the details that were further away.
Jack: And you can also use left and right. You can say on the left side of the picture, there is a man ... or on the right, there is a man.
Rich: Be careful with prepositions! Because you can also say in the top right corner or in the bottom left corner … like in football … a player might put the ball in the top corner or he might put the ball to the left of the goalkeeper
Jack: In the corner, on the right, to the left ... tricky.
Rich: Yes - you can also use regular prepositions of place to describe where things are. In front of, next to, behind, between ...
Jack: And lastly, what if it’s not clear?
Rich: What do you mean?
Jack: I mean if the photo is a bit blurry or you are not sure what is happening in the picture.
Rich: Well if the photo is blurry or out of focus, you can say make something out. Earlier, you spoke about a picture that had Chris Wood in the background and he was a bit blurry. You said you could just about make him out.
Jack: To make something out means to identify or discern something with difficulty. I think it’s more commonly used in negative sentences. I can’t quite make out what it says here.
Rich: Like your handwriting.
Rich: You can also say ‘it looks like’ to say what you think is happening if you are not sure. Earlier you said ‘it looks like he’s doing a jig’.
Jack: And you can use modal verbs like might and could to show that you’re not sure. Remember to use the continuous form. He might be dancing. They might be waiting for a bus.
Rich: There you have lots of language you can use to describe a picture. Now it’s time for a task.
Jack: In this week’s task, we want you to share a photo that you took of something that is important to you.
Rich: Your task is to share the photo with us and write a description of the photo.
Jack: When you describe the picture, try to use some of the language we spoke about earlier. Start by saying what the picture is of.
Rich: Then talk about the action - what is happening in the picture.
Jack: And finish by talking about one or two details from the picture.
Rich: There’s a place at the bottom of the page where you can share your image. We’ll create a gallery on the page of all your images and you can write your descriptions in the comments.
Jack: If you can’t share a photo, alternatively, you can choose to describe one of the photos on this page.
Rich: Have you got a football phrase for us this week?
Jack: Yes, I have, but first, last week’s football phrase. The phrase was to win ugly. This is a strange phrase and means to win a match despite playing really badly or really defensively. It’s not the way that fans want their teams to win, but a win is a win, eh?
Rich: You would say that. Well done to Giovi from Poland, Minh Hoang from Vietnam, Ahmed Adam from Sudan, Sabonoleg and Liubomyr from Ukraine, Lakerwang from China and half a point for Milos from Serbia.
Jack: What do you mean, I would say that? Hmmm. OK, this week’s phrase is ******. This is a strange phrase that comes from a term that describes a form of West African spirituality that was carried to the United States by the transatlantic slave trade. I’m not sure how it made it into football English, but it is commonly used to describe a sort of spell or curse which stops a team from winning against a rival or at a particular ground. This weekend, Spurs won at Chelsea for the first time this season and ended their Chelsea ******.
Rich: Right, that’s all we have time for this week! Don’t forget to write your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below.
Jack: If you have enjoyed this podcast or found it useful, leave us a rating or review and that will help other people find us. Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. You can see two examples here:
My son fell in a puddle! He wasn't looking where he was going and he slipped and fell.
It looks like he's doing a jig or clicking his heels together like he is dancing rather than playing football.
There were a few more tricky words in the podcast. Can you remember all of them? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words in context. This can really help with understanding.
Talking about pictures
In this week's podcast, Rich and Jack talked about pictures and pictures. In the lesson below, we look at some of the language we used in a bit more detail. There are some activities and a quiz for you to complete and finally a task. The task is to write a description of a photo that you took. At the bottom of the page, there is a section to upload your photo and description.
Here are the links to the galleries on the premierleague.com website. It's your job to work out which photo we are describing.
What's in the picture?
It may sound very obvious but when you are describing a picture in an exam you should first say what you can see. This shouldn't be in too much detail. You could use phrases such as:
- This is a picture of ...
- In this picture, I can see ...
This is similar to what you would say when showing a photo to family or friends:
- This is a picture of me on holiday in Greece.
- In this picture, you can see the whole of London. I took it at the top of the London Eye!
Different types of shot
You can take a great shot with a ball and you can take a great shot with a camera. Jack and Rich spoke about different types of shots in the podcast. Look at these examples:
I love pictures like this one. I always enjoy choosing action shots for the website but maybe we should choose more like these.
There are some great pictures. Lots of group shots. It looks like the coaches are having lots of fun with all the participants on the course.
In this activity, learn more shots that you can take with a camera.
It's often difficult to remember which preposition to use when talking about photos. Have a look at these examples:
I can see some players celebrating on the right and some players looking sad on the left.
In the top right corner I can see a clock - it says 90 + 3.
The above are connected to talking about pictures, now have a look at these sentences about football and look at the prepositions in bold.
Mohamed Salah put the ball in the top corner.
Harry Kane put the ball to the left of the keeper.
Sergio Aguero went round the keeper and scored.
Riyad Mahrez usually plays on the left wing.
Upload a picture
This week's task is to share a photo that you took of something or that is important to you. We want you to upload the picture and write a description of the photo. When you describe the picture, try to use some of the language we used and spoke about in this week's podcast. You should:
- Start by saying what the picture is. Where is it? When was it taken? Who is in it?
- Then talk about the action - what is happening in the picture?
- And finish by talking about one or two details from the picture. Why do you like it? What is interesting about it?
There’s a place at the bottom of the page where you can share your image. We’ll create a gallery on the page of all your images and you can write your descriptions in the comments section.
If you can’t share a photo, you can describe one of the photos on this page.
What do you think?
In this week’s podcast, Jack and Rich spoke about photos.
Do you enjoy taking photographs? Are you interested in photography?
What's your favourite photograph? How often do you look at photos that you have taken?
Do you know this week's football phrase?
Don't forget this week's task. We'd love to get lots of photos and descriptions!