Children who cannot use descriptive words effectively in a sentence face difficulties in making themselves clearly understood. Using and manipulating descriptive words is a skill that children need in everyday life, but also at school. As adults, descriptive language is important at work, such as in writing instructions. Adjectives and adverbs allow children’s speech and writing to be precise and specific, leaving little room for guessing as to what they mean.
Children are expected to be able to write descriptive sentences in school. Stories written to entertain must use descriptive words to help the reader clearly understand events, setting and characters. Using adjectives and adverbs in a written sentence helps children express ideas, moods, feelings and thoughts. A descriptive sentence connects the reader to sounds, tastes, textures, smells, and sight in ways that simpler sentences cannot do. Ali Faucher of Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s writing center suggests that vague words, particularly in writing, do not help the speaker or author to fully share the picture he has in his mind.
Children who tell a story with little descriptive language cannot accurately describe what they have experienced. If they want to try to describe something they are thinking about, not knowing how to use adjectives, adjectives and descriptive phrases in a sentence can make it difficult. This can be frustrating for children as what they see in their minds is not coming across clearly to their listeners.
Learning how to use descriptive words in a sentence, whether spoken or written, makes it more interesting and engaging for listeners. Kids love to talk and share what they know, and when a child shares her thoughts with others, she wants them to be received with interest. Descriptive language has the power to entertain, and children are better able to keep their audience’s attention when they utilize it.
Using descriptive words in sentences provides students with practice to try out new vocabulary words. When students use new words in sentences, they are more likely to remember their meanings and the appropriate contexts in which to use them. Learning new words helps them to master new subject matter more quickly and solidifies their understanding of it. Reading and understanding more difficult texts and speech will be easier for children who have a good grasp of descriptive language.
Developing Descriptive Language
Model inserting and manipulating descriptive language in your everyday speech and writing for your child. For example, if your toddler says, “Plane!” answer, “I see that red plane in the sky. It looks so small from here!” Expose your child to several genres of text like newspapers, magazines, poetry and stories to provide examples of descriptive words. Point out sentences with descriptive language as your read together. Ask him if a sentence would sound as good without the descriptive words. Say the sentence as written and then without the descriptive words to compare them. Encourage your child to practice writing and speaking new adverbs, adjectives or other descriptive words and phrases in her own sentences.