Unlock High Scores: Strategies for Describing Pictures in the Duolingo English Test

7 minute read

Duolingo Speaking Pictures: The Duolingo English Test (DET) incorporates a unique speaking assessment tool known as the “Speak About The Photo” task. This section evaluates a test-taker’s ability to generate spoken descriptions of visual stimuli. A single image is presented on-screen, and the test-taker is allotted a brief preparation period to analyze it before being required to deliver a spoken description within a set timeframe. That said, read the complete blog to learn more about Duolingo Speaking Picutres and how to answer them with ease. 


What are the ‘Speak About The Photo’ Tasks in the Duolingo English Test? 

Duolingo Speaking Pictures: The Duolingo English Test (DET) incorporates a unique task designed to assess your spoken English fluency and descriptive abilities: the “Speak About The Photo.” This section presents a single, unfamiliar image on-screen and challenges you to deliver a comprehensive spoken description within a set timeframe. 

It contributes to your overall DET score, specifically impacting your Production subscore, which measures your ability to communicate effectively in spoken English.

The “Speak About The Photo” task appears only once during the entire DET. It follows a structured format:

  • Preparation Period (20 seconds): A single image is displayed on-screen. During this brief window, you are encouraged to meticulously analyze the image, identifying key elements and mentally organizing your description.
  • Speaking Period (90 seconds): Following the preparation period, you will be prompted to speak and describe the image in detail. You are allotted 90 seconds to deliver your spoken description.
  • Single Recording: The DET allows only one recording attempt. This emphasizes the importance of effective planning and clear communication during the speaking period.
  • Scoring and Evaluation: While the DET scoring rubric remains confidential, it is known that the “Speak About The Photo” task contributes to your Production subscore. 

This subscore is evaluated based on various criteria, including:

  1. Task Relevance: Does your description stay focused on the image and avoid irrelevant tangents?
  2. Grammatical Accuracy: Do you use grammatically correct sentences and structures?
  3. Vocabulary Usage: Do you employ a diverse and appropriate range of vocabulary to describe the image?
  4. Fluency and Clarity: Do you speak smoothly and continuously, ensuring your message is clear and easy to understand?

5+ Essential Tips to Ace The Picture Description Tasks in the Duolingo English Test

Duolingo Speaking Pictures: The Duolingo English Test (DET) incorporates two distinct picture description tasks: a speaking section and a writing section. Both sections contribute to your Production subscore, which is demonstrably the most challenging aspect of the DET for many test-takers.

This guide delves into these picture description tasks, providing effective strategies to maximize your score.

Scrutinize the Image Thoroughly

The initial step to a successful picture description, regardless of modality (speaking or writing), is a meticulous examination of the image presented. Given the time constraints inherent in the DET, it is crucial to make the most of the allotted preparation period. Focus on identifying key details such as:

  • The central subject(s) of the image
  • Any actions taking place
  • The surrounding environment
  • The overall mood or atmosphere

By comprehensively analyzing the image, you can formulate a well-structured response that incorporates these critical elements.

Maintain Grammatical Accuracy

While the DET emphasizes fluency and communication, upholding grammatical accuracy remains significant. Grammatical errors can impede clarity and negatively impact your score.

  • Prior to the test, solidify your understanding of fundamental grammar rules, including subject-verb agreement, proper tense usage, and sentence structure.
  • Employing a variety of grammatical structures in your response demonstrates your proficiency and elevates the overall quality of your description.

 Diversify Sentence Structure

A monotonous flow of simple sentences can make your description sound repetitive and unengaging. Incorporate a range of sentence structures to imbue your response with dynamism:

  • Utilize complex sentences to express intricate relationships between ideas.
  • Employ compound sentences to conjoin independent clauses, providing a more comprehensive picture.
  • Varying sentence length also contributes to a more captivating and articulate description.

Embrace Synonyms

Repetition of vocabulary can detract from the richness of your description. Expand your vocabulary by learning synonyms for commonly used words. This allows you to express the same concept with greater nuance and precision, demonstrating a sophisticated command of the English language.

Here are some resources to help you build your vocabulary:

  • Online thesauruses
  • Vocabulary flashcards
  • Books and articles on vocabulary development

Maximize Speaking and Writing Time

Both the speaking and writing sections impose time constraints. Utilize the allotted time effectively:

  • Speaking Section: Strive to speak continuously throughout the preparation and response periods. Even if you pause to formulate your thoughts, avoid lengthy silences.
  • Writing Section: Once you have examined the image, waste no time in crafting your response. Aim to write for the entire allotted minute.

 Leverage the 5 Ws

The 5 Ws (Who, What, When, Where, and Why) provide a framework for structuring your response. Consider each element as you analyze the image:

  • Who: Who or what is the main subject of the image?
  • What: What actions are taking place, if any?
  • When: Does the image depict a specific time period?
  • Where: Where is the scene depicted in the image taking place?
  • Why: What is the overall purpose or message conveyed by the image? (This may necessitate some inference on your part)

By incorporating these elements, you can create a comprehensive and informative picture description.

Proofread While Writing

The writing section offers a valuable opportunity to proofread your response before submitting it. Take a few seconds to review your work for any grammatical errors or typos. A well-proofread response demonstrates attention to detail and strengthens your overall presentation.

Speak Clearly and Confidently (Speaking Section)

The speaking section necessitates clear and confident delivery.

  • Speak at a moderate pace to ensure your pronunciation is understandable.
  • Project your voice audibly to guarantee the clarity of your response.
  • Maintain a confident and enthusiastic tone to engage the listener.

Duolingo Speak About the Photo: Sample Questions and Answers 

Duolingo Speaking Pictures: Refer to the following set of questions and answers to get a better understanding of the Duolingo ‘Speak about the photo’ questions. Going through these commonly asked sample questions will give you an idea of what to expect during the DET exam. Have a look. 

Q1. Speak about the image for about 90 seconds

Ans.  The image portrays a professional kitchen. Two chefs are engrossed in their tasks, both of them arranging a variety of dishes on a counter and then placing food in metal containers. The counter displays oysters on ice, appetisers in small bowls, and bread rolls, indicating a meticulous focus on culinary detail and presentation. The scene provides a glimpse into the intricate behind-the-scenes work that contributes to fine dining experiences. 

Q2. Speak about the image for about 90 seconds

Ans. The image depicts a fascinating wedding ritual. A group of people, dressed in traditional attire, stand together with their hands raised above their heads, forming a kind of human arch. In the centre of this archway stand two individuals, likely the bride and groom, who are presumably passing through as part of the ceremony.

The people on either side of the arch appear to be segregated by their clothing. The bride’s side, most likely on the left, wears outfits that share a similar colour theme. Likewise, the groom’s side, presumably on the right, is attired in matching colours that complement the groom’s attire.

Students can refer to the following PDF to get access of some more sample questions and answers on Duolino speaking pictures. 

So that was all about Duolingo speaking pictures. Hope the blog has answered your queries regarding the topic. 

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Q1. How do you speak about images on Duolingo?

Ans. Duolingo’s “Speak About The Photo” task gives you 90 seconds to describe an image. Analyze it first (20 seconds), then use vivid language to describe what you see (central subject, actions, surroundings) in a clear and confident way.

Q2. How to practice speaking for the  Duolingo English Test?

Ans. You must practice speaking in front of the mirror to be more confident. Apart from that, you must hone your vocabulary skills, focus on your listening skills, polish your grammar and practice sentence intonation as much as possible. 

Q3. What is the format for Duolingo speaking?

Ans. The DET speaking is a 10-minute test wherein you will be required to record your spoken response to the given topics and questions. Questions asked during this section require you to describe the given topic articulately. 

Visit the Leverage Live page of Leverage edu or contact our study abroad experts at 1800-57-2000 to strengthen your scores and application to secure your spot in your dream college. 

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