Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Weather description is a common way to begin a composition. However, some school teachers might expect students to begin their compositions with anything but weather descriptions. In fact, I have a Primary 3 student who told me that her teacher forbade them to use weather descriptions in their compositions!

If your child’s teacher is like that too, or if you want to teach your child other ways to begin their compositions, the next easiest way is to use speech.

* Read on to find out how children can begin their composition with speech.
* Download a 4-Picture or 3-Picture Composition for your child to practise (download link at the end of this post).


1. For Composition with 4 Sequential Pictures

Firstly, look at all the pictures.
What is the story about? Who are the characters? What is the problem (if any) and solution?

Next, study the first picture.
What do you think the character is saying?

Write it down as a direct speech. 

Eg. If the first picture shows a group of children queuing to buy food in a school canteen during recess, the main character might say:

“I’m famished! Why is the queue moving so slowly?” grumbled John.

So, children might begin their composition with:

“I’m famished! Why is the queue moving so slowly?” grumbled John.  John and his best friend, Wilson, were queuing in front of the noodles stall in the school canteen during recess.  They could not wait to start eating as their stomachs were growling.  John glanced impatiently at the snail-like queue. ….

2. For Composition with 3 unrelated pictures (New PSLE Format)

This can either be easier or more challenging, depending on the standard and creativity of the child.

First of all, look at the topic given. Common topics are “A Mishap”, “An Unforgettable Incident”, “A Kind Act”…

Secondly, choose the picture(s) that you want to use for your composition. Are you using one, two or all three pictures?

Next, decide on the storyline (plot). What is the problem faced by the main character and the solution to the problem?

Now, you can start thinking of your main character. How is he/she like? What kind of person is he/she?

Once you have an idea of how you want your main character to be, ask yourself, what might he/she be saying at the beginning of the story?

Write it down in direct speech.

Eg. If your character is a class bully, you might begin your story with:

“Get out of my way!” ordered Tom. It was recess time and everyone was making their way to the school canteen.  Tom, the class bully, stormed into the canteen, looking around for his next victim.

Besides the main character, you can also choose to begin your story with a direct speech by another character.

Eg. Using the same example above, instead of the bully speaking, you can let another character speak at the beginning of the story.

“I hope I don’t bump into that bully today,” Jason mumbled to himself as he walked towards the school canteen. As he joined the long queue at the chicken rice stall, his heart sank when he saw Tom, the bully, approaching him.


1. Punctuation errors

This is the most common mistake, especially for lower primary children. Some young writers (P1 especially) are either not taught how to use speech quotation marks or they are careless and missed them out. So, children who want to use speech in their compositions have to be taught the correct punctuation for speech.

2. Wrong tenses

Direct speech is speech quoted word for word, which is usually in the Present Tense. This might pose problems for some children who are weak in Grammar, when the rest of the story is written in the Past Tense. Children need to remember to use Present Tense for direct speech and Past Tense for the rest of the story.

3. Too much dialogue

Some children end up having too much direct speech in their compositions. Unless you are writing a book or novel, keep dialogue to a minimal. When you are beginning a composition with speech, do not write more than two.
As with all other writing techniques, practice makes perfect. Direct speech can add life to a character and make a composition more interesting. It is worthwhile to get your child to practice adding some direct speech in his/her compositions.