How to Teach 'Writing descriptive compositions/essays' (of not less then 200 words) in Form Three

How to Teach 'Writing descriptive compositions/essays' (of not less then 200 words) in Form Three

Welcome to UNIT 11. 3.

PREVIOUSLY:  In Unit 11.2; we discussed about how to study and teach the sub topic “Analysing factual information from the media” in Form Two.

In This Unit 11.3; we will discuss how to study and teach the sub topic “Writing descriptive compositions/essays” in Form Three.

(Also: For Literature in English Subject, Check out my Literature in English Blog. Also check out My Diary for Diary Writing Inspiration and More! )

Sub topic: Writing descriptive compositions/essays.
Periods per sub topic: 14
Class: Form Three.

Descriptive writing is the type of writing that requires a writer to involve all of his or her five senses; smell, touch, see, hear, and feel so that he/she can clearly describe someone or a particular thing.
Describing something or someone is the way to get to know them more precisely than before. Almost everything can be described either in terms of its appearance or in terms of its content.

By the end of this sub topic, the student should be able to write vivid descriptions of people/places and events. The student should be able to use five senses of human beings in writing various descriptions of things, situations and people.

  1. Step One: Introducing students to the sub topic. This introduction is important because it helps students to get to know what descriptive writing is about. First, to describe is to explain something by giving its details. Descriptive writing is a description of something. This description can be about a person, place, thing, emotion or experience. The author has artistic freedom when writing in descriptive form. Descriptive writing uses five human senses. The writer of descriptive writing also uses descriptive and figurative language, as well as concrete images to describe the subject. In this sense, literary devices like similes and metaphors may be used as well.

Steps of writing a good descriptive essay.
This step involves teacher introducing students to the steps of writing a good descriptive essay. These steps are combined with the format of writing an essay that has been introduced in this blog earlier. The following are the steps of writing a good descriptive essay:
(i)                 Choose a topic. A teacher may provide special life aspects where students can choose their topics to write and specifically writing in pairs or groups.
(ii)               Good introductory paragraph. After choose a topic, a student plans a good introduction with the thesis statement in it. The creation of the essay's introductory statement sets the writer forward.
(iii)             Put the senses together. This is a descriptive essay, thus, there is a great use of sensory details and words that will make the reader feel like he/she feeling, touching, tasting, seeing, and smelling something. For example, the sentence like; 'We left the forest, and when we approached the village, we meet a stranger wearing rags'. This sentence makes the reader feel as if he/she is standing somewhere and watching the forest and the rough stranger.
(iv)             Creation of the essay outline. This is the stage where the writer lists all the details or points of which he/she is going to discuss in separate paragraphs. Each listed point will have its own paragraph in the main body.
(v)               Drafting the main body of the essay. Now write the essay by discussing the points you have outlined in essay outline. Use sensory details to vividly discuss the points you outlined earlier.
(vi)             Write the conclusion. The conclusion makes a summary, not mentioning of discussed points, of the entire essay and it reaffirm the introductory statement of the essay. That's, it winds up what was stated in the introduction with the connection to what has been discussed in the body of an essay. It also suggests and give ways forward on the particular issue.
(vii)           Reviewing your essay. The draft of any essay or writing should be revised. Reviewing is important because 'no one is perfect' to write all the way through without encountering some errors. When writing assignments, home works, group works, or even individual works (not exams), it is a good idea to a break for a short time, then come back to the essay and take a look at it with some fresh eyes and energy. Put the changes you have seen as you review your essay.
(viii)         Finish it up. Read your essay again and check any errors for the last time. Then your essay is at a good shape now.

  1. Step Two: A teacher to present his/her model compositions.
By using model compositions, the teacher and students will discuss the features of a descriptive composition/essay. The teacher should remind students that descriptive essay has introduction, main body, and conclusion just like other common essays. The main feature of descriptive essay is that it uses five human senses and figurative language.

A teacher guides students to the discussion of common topics in the societies so as to explore them and write about them. Therefore, students are guided by the teacher to select topics and brainstorm the main ideas or points of the selected topics. Here students are guided to choose their topics basically basing on the following common life aspects such as causes of poverty, gender issues, HIV/AIDS, conflict resolution, road safety, early marriages, forced marriages, causes of corruption, illiteracy, and killings of albinos.

Description of a Place:
Karema Village
(Descriptive essay using descriptive language and all human five senses).

Karema is the village in Tanganyika District in Katavi Region. It is located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. This village is famous for its fishing activity and its amazing beaches where people go to enjoy during various holiday seasons. As you approach Karema, you can wonder to see unending sky. When you look at the lake it is as if it has been attached with the sky. There is no clear line between water and horizon. The following features make Karema village one of the unique villages along the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

First, during the good fishing season, fish are available in all forms. You can visit one household and find either cooked, roasted or dried 'mikebuka'. People in this village enjoy the availability of fish for their daily meals.

Second, beside Karema High School, there is Ikola-Karema dusty road that goes directly through Karema Village up to the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The School is built on the feet of some hills where telephone poles have been installed. This road helps to connect Karema village with other villages. It also simplifies communications and businesses.

Beautiful scenery. When you climb on hills behind Karema village, you can view a good scenery of Lake Tanganyika including the beautiful houses, canoes packed like sardines along the beach, long and beautiful sand beach, far Congo DRC mountains, and amazing blue water as if touching the horizon of the sky.

It is the land of ‘Mikebuka’ and ‘Dagaa’. When you decide to go into Karema Village itself, your nose becomes hit by the amazing and sweet odour of the roasted and fried fish famously known as 'Mikebuka'. And during the good fishing season, there is the smell of fished 'mikebuka' and 'dagaa'. Really, when you are at Karema, your appetite for fish is quenched and comes to an end because you will be thoroughly satisfied.

Also, it’s the Home of Kasomo Beach. When you walk through the village to the beach, you can find changing sounds of waves that hit the sand and rocky beach. Singing and beating of the waves sound great to the people especially visitors. People like to hear those sounds. Kasomo Beach is one of the famous beaches on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Many people go there to swim and sunbathe on the beach seats especially during the holiday season. Some people prefer to enjoy the cool air inside 'Misonges' and others like to sit on the beach sands to enjoy the coarseness, dryness, cleanness, and hotness of the beach sands. One amazing thing about beach sands is that they do not make you dirty. Even clothes are dried over the sands.

Generally, Karema village is a blessed village that any visitor feels proud of it. It is where one’s stress can be removed; it is where comfortability is with you whenever you touch your feet on; and finally it is the land of no hunger. This is Karema Village; the Home of Kasomo Beach!

  1. Step Three: Students write the first draft in pairs or groups.
A teacher can guide students to form groups or to be in pairs and write their first draft (rough draft as they discuss) about the topic they have chosen.

  1. Step Four: Revision and editing stage.
In this stage, students are guided to revise and edit their drafts while focusing on the content of the topic selected. They should revise and edit their works in terms of the content they have covered. Here they should make sure that they are on track, and not out of the topic or subject matter.

  1. Step Five: Correction of spelling and other mechanical errors.
This stage is where students make sure their works are well punctuated. The teacher should guide them to correct spelling errors and other mechanical errors in writing. Their works should be free from irrelevant content, grammatical errors and mechanical errors as well.

  1. Step Six: Presentation of the essays to other groups.
This is the stage where students check their works for themselves. The groups of students to exchange their essays for comments by another group.
After exchanging their works, these groups should use the comments given by their fellows about their works in order to improve their works.

Ask students to reflect on how descriptions of the things and people help them to understand them.

Assign students to write a descriptive essay. Discuss with them to choose the topic or form groups and each group choose the question to write a descriptive essay on it. Make sure they choose a relevant question. Prepare a checklist for their works to be marked.

Oral or written descriptions of something or someone are crucial in everyday lives. We may use our eyes to see, our ears to listen, or our skins to touch, but description of the things we don't know is very important. Take an example of the situation you may be in when you are describing something to someone who has never come across the particular thing. But through description this person can understand about the thing.
The practice of writing descriptive compositions lays the foundation to the creative writing for the students. As we all know, when we read stories we are so thrilled with the events which are descriptively written.
Generally, writers use the descriptive essays in order to create a vivid picture of a person, place, or thing.

Check out how to Study & Teach other Form Three Sub Topics in this Blog!

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Emmanuel Kachele

Emmanuel Kachele is a founder and Blogger of KACHELE ONLINE Blog, an educational blog where 'O' Level English - 'OLE', 'A' Level English (ALE) and other related teaching and life skills are shared extensively. This is an online center for all Tanzanian Secondary School English Language students and teachers (Forms I-VI) and all interested English Language learners and teachers worldwide.


Please share your thoughts

  1. It also useful to help help students use the right tense. Descriptive writing are mostly written in present tense.

  2. That's true. Tenses are the most important ingredients in any composition. Thank you for this contribution.

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