The first photo I shared in week 3 of #nostalgicnovember was taken in New Zealand. Spread across a bright green, rolling hillside were thousands of off-white dots. These off-white dots looked almost like a vast cotton field. The green grass that peeked from underneath the white specks appeared so bright because of the way its horizon met an almost white sky, an overcast day with one large, luminous cloud covering the sun. When you look at the off-white dots up close, you can see they are not specks of cotton, but sheep. Thousands of sheep danced around the field, in an enclosed area right off a dirt road. This is what I imagine when I think of driving through the countryside on the South Island of New Zealand.
I want you to try and imagine this photo, if you haven’t already, by using the descriptive language to “paint” yourself a picture. You can utilize the many adjectives (bright green, rolling, off-white, vast, overcast, large, luminous, etc..) to bring life to the nouns (things). You can think about the personification* I used to imagine what was happening (the grass peeked, thousands of sheep danced), and apply the comparisons I used to understand what to envision/see in your mind (looked like a vast cotton field). Finally, I gave details in my description that would allow you to visualize concrete things in the photo ([the] horizon met [the] sky, the sheep, an enclosed area, dirt road), make sure these find their way into your photo.
You are going to see the photo that I was describing below, but I want you to really try and imagine it first to see how powerful descriptive language can be in writing and communication. Learning how to and becoming comfortable with descriptive language will enable you to express yourself more effectively, and use your English language in a more meaningful way. This week on my Instagram photo challenge, it’s the perfect opportunity to practice this skill. Why? Well for 2 reasons. The first is you will have the opportunity to read my posts (@jenesl760), Wanderful‘s posts (@sheswanderful), and other Instagramers, so you can see how we all use descriptive language. You can learn and expand your vocabulary, while improving reading comprehension. The next benefit of participating in the challenge is that you will have the chance to practice writing and using your own descriptive language. Practice makes perfect, right? So apply these new skills and practice using them; plus if you share with me, I will give you personal feedback! A final bonus that’s really amazing is one lucky participator (someone sharing posts, tagging us, and using #nostalgicnovember) will win a prize pack from me and sheswanderful.com! (WAHOO!)
A quick English lesson before we see my photo…
off-white [noun] a color that is a slightly gray (grayish) white – often used as an adjective
dots [plural noun]: small round mark (usually a circle)
vast [adjective]: very large in amount or size
peek [verb]: to look at something from a hidden place; to look at briefly
specks [plural noun]: a very small spot or piece of something
luminous [adjective]: very bright, filled with light
enclosed [adjective]: being surround by something, such as a wall or fence
to paint (one’s self) a picture [expression]: to imagine an image in one’s head and visualize it as if it were a real photo or picture
personification [noun]: a form of figurative language, when a human characteristic is applied to something that is not human (like an object or animal)
Personification Examples & Explanations:
As mentioned, personification is when a writer (or someone) gives a human characteristic (a verb, for example) to a non-human thing. In my photo description, I applied the verb PEEK when talking about what the grass was doing. Peeking, or “looking”, is a human characteristic because humans have eyes that can see and look at something, the object, grass, cannot. So I used this verb to help describe how the grass was “looking out” from underneath the sheep, how the grass was essentially looking from a hidden place which was below the sheep. This can help you visualize how little of the grass may be showing, or how many sheep (white specks) there actually are. Additionally, I described the sheep as dancing around the field. We know that a sheep, an animal, doesn’t really have the ability to dance (move to the rhythm of music), so this human characteristic was used to describe the way they seemed to move around (be spread out) across the field.
Other examples of personification:
“I am so hungry that I hear my lunch calling my name!”
“I could hear the leaves whispering in the wind today.”
Emily Dickinson used a few personifications, with adjectives and a verb, in this example: “..”Where bashful flower blow, and blushing birds go down to drink, and shadows tremble so..”
Now that you have imagined my photo, and an idea of how to use descriptive language, take a look at my first scenery picture. Was it close to what you imagined? What was the same, what did you image differently?
It’s time to practice what you’ve learned in today’s lesson and share your own photos now with me and Wanderful over on Instagram. Participating is easy, remember all you need to do is:
- Go to Instagram and make sure you follow me and @sheswanderful
- Post your favorite scenic landscape from the past and hashtag #nostalgicnovember and tag the two of us so we can see
- Be sure to use as much descriptive language (as mentioned above) as you can for even more practice
- See if your photo is a feature on our page, we’ll tag you so you will know!
- At the end of the month, we’ll announce the prize winner
I hope you enjoyed your lesson today, and please share with someone you know studying English to help them too! Sharing is caring. Happy Monday and as always,