3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

Hi, everyone! In today’s post, we will be learning about visualisation. Hmm… the word ‘visual’ means that it is something that we see with our eyes. In fact, its noun form, ‘visualisation’, refers to the formation of images in our minds. Are we trying to see something today?

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

Visualisation is useful in 3 ways:

  1. in learning new vocabulary

  2. in the writing of compositions, and

  3. in improving our understanding of a comprehension passage.

Learning New Vocabulary


For students who are weak in English, it can sometimes be a struggle to learn and retain new vocabulary. This is where visualisation can come in handy.

For example, instead of explaining that ‘surreptitiously’ means secretly; without anyone knowing or seeing, a more effective method would be to get students to imagine themselves hiding behind a wall, such as the man who is hiding behind a wall in this picture:

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

Instead of memorising definitions, which may be a difficult task for students who are weak in the language, the visualisation of a mental picture will be easier and more effective. It has been proven in scientific research that visualisation is a more effective way than memorisation or verbalisation, which is the reading of words, to help students learn new vocabulary.

Creating Vivid Descriptions in Writing


Visualisation can be a very powerful tool in composition writing too! Using visualisation, you will be able to create vivid descriptions of scenes and characters in your story.

Let’s imagine a man who is hiding surreptitiously behind a wall. Other than the description of “hiding surreptitiously behind a wall”, what other descriptions can we write about him? To describe him in greater detail, imagine what this man might be doing in your mind.

One thing you can imagine him doing is stealing furtive glances from behind the wall, like what is illustrated in the picture:

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

In addition to his action, you should also visualise his appearance, such as unique body or facial feature, clothes and age. Instead of the man you see in this picture, you should describe his appearance in detail with respect to his role in the story. Given that he is stealing furtive glances, what do you think he is trying to do? In this story, I believe him to be a snatch thief. Thus, I imagine him wearing a brown cap, and having bushy eyebrows and a moustache. I have modified the picture to make him look like this:

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

Does this man look even more suspicious? Yes, by doing so, I have made the man look even more suspicious! Students can draw out the character to help them visualise how they would like to describe and characterise the characters in their stories. Using the picture I have visualised, I would describe this supposed snatch thief as follows:

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

Other than the man, you can also picture how another character in the story would react when this “snatch thief” appeared in front of her. To help you describe this second character, you may do a simple drawing on the online of a person. To create a visualisation, you may use the template below:

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

After visualising the second character, I would describe her like this in my composition:

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

Hence, using simple visualisations can help students to remind themselves how they are going to describe the characters in their story when they are writing their compositions.

Likewise, we should also use visualisation in stories where the positions of characters matter, such as a story where a fire occurred suddenly at home. I would draw out a floor plan of the home to make logical deductions on the characters’ movements:

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

First, draw the locations of all characters, followed by the location of the fire extinguisher:

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

With these drawings, don’t you think you can better “see” the positions of your characters? Yes! And with this, we can think of possible locations for the fire.

Picture 1:

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

Picture 2:

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

Now I am going to illustrate how visualisation will help you to add specific details in your story and make it more vivid for the reader.

In Picture 1, the fire blocks the main door and the entrance of bedroom 1. In Picture 2, the fire blocks the entrance to the kitchen and bedroom 2.

From the visualisations, we can see that the fire at location 1 requires either Father or Mother to run into the kitchen to retrieve the fire extinguisher to put out the fire. For Picture 2, John had to run out of his apartment for help because the fire is blocking the entrance to the kitchen.

Take note to mention such precise details in your story. They allow readers to form visual images in their minds that would make the story come alive.

For instance, using picture 1, instead of just saying that John is trapped by the fire, describe the layout of the apartment in your descriptions so that readers can imagine the scene in their minds.

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

The visualisation of the fire’s position would also determine the action required to put out the fire. This would prevent you from developing the story illogically. Therefore, it is important to draw a simple floor plan for stories when position is important.

Did you notice that I have also used the fire to trap at least one character in the story? Doing so enhances the tension in the story and gives the writer a pressing need to put out the fire.

The visualisation of at least one character trapped in the fire would remind students to address this problem and save those trapped in the fire, thereby providing ideas for the ‘problem’, ‘solution’ and ‘consequence’ parts of the story.

In Picture 1, for example, Father would dash inside the kitchen to retrieve the fire extinguisher, which is the solution, to put the fire, which is the problem. The consequence is would be that the fire had damaged the furniture and electronics in the living room.

This ties in with Lil’ But Mighty’s planning strategy that advises students to start at the problem part of the story. With the ‘problem’, ‘solution’ and ‘consequence’ parts of your story planned out logically, you can now work on the ‘conclusion’, ‘introduction’ and ‘build-up’ sections of your story.

Comprehending the Passage


Did you know that visualisation can also help us understand a comprehension passage better? The following is an excerpt from a comprehension passage which we used in class recently:

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

One of my students drew this picture of the book mentioned in the extract. Is it correct?

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

Well, this picture is drawn incorrectly because there are only five locks and there is no chain binding the book.

Let’s try again! How about this?

3 Ways to Use Visualisation to Improve Writing and Reading

This is a much better visualisation that shows how the book is chained with six padlocks. Being able to see how the book is heavily chained up with six locks allows you to infer that it must be very important!

As compared to just reading the passage, visualising key details certainly presents a more impactful image! In fact, visualisation is a very useful tool that any English learner can use to have a better understanding of comprehension passages. It is especially useful to visualise and draw out the details when the descriptions are complicated

I hope you have enjoyed today’s post! Have fun using visualisation in learning new vocabulary, planning and writing your composition, and drawing objects or scenes described in comprehension passages! Do let me know in the comments if you use visualisation in any other ways while learning English.

Till we meet again! See you next time!





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