10 Ways to Elicit Language During Wordless Videos

One of my favorite ways to engage students is through videos. Interacting with a fun animation is not only a hit with the kids, but it is also an amazing tool to target a variety of language skills. Whether you’re addressing WH questions, inferencing, problem-solving, or emotions, wordless videos are a fun and interactive way to elicit language. Not to mention, YouTube has a plethora of FREE short videos you can use as a learning resource.


Here is a short list of wordless videos for language learning:

Using any one of these videos (and there are plenty more out there!), here are 10 ways to elicit language with your students:


1. WH Questions

Working on receptive language skills is extremely common as an SLP. By asking your students what, where, who, why, and when questions, you can get a better grasp on what they understand in the video.  


2. Making Predictions 

Try pausing the video to work on making predictions. When the video gets to an exciting part, pause and ask your student what they think will happen next. 


3. Describing

Throughout the video, pause and ask your student to describe different items, people, scenarios, etc. This will work on expressive language skills and push your students to use vocabulary words, proper sentence structures, and more. If your student simply replies with non-descriptive words like “this thing” and “that thing”, model an example then ask your question again.


4. Commenting

Use this opportunity to elicit comments by asking specific questions like “Why do you think this character is _____” or “Woah what do you see there?” To elicit commenting, try to keep a dialogue going between you and your student, creating a specific conversation about that moment in the clip.


5. Emotional inferencing

This is one of my favorite things to do when watching a wordless video. Throughout the short film, ask your students to identify the emotions of the characters. Because the characters aren’t using words to describe their feelings, your student must rely purely on facial features, social cues, and body language to identify their emotions. 


6. Expanding sentences

This is a great opportunity to take turns describing different characters, settings, and events in the video. You can begin by modeling a simpler sentence structure (e.g., subject + action: “The bird is laughing”) then increase to a more complex sentence structure by including objects and locations (e.g., The bird is laughing with his friends on the telephone wire). 


7. Retelling and Sequencing

This is another great receptive language skill. Did the student understand the story? Can the student repeat the story in the right order? Have your student retell the story in the correct order. Encourage the use of transition words, like first, then, next, last.


8. Navigating Problems

Nearly every story faces a problem that must be solved. Pause the video before the solution is revealed and ask your student how they would solve the problem.  


9. Story Elements

Especially for older students, ask various story elements like the setting, characters, main idea, plot, etc. This would make a great graphic organizer activity as well.


10. Conversational Turn-Taking

Because the video is wordless, it creates a great opportunity to elicit expressive language by filling in the blanks. Take turns with your student playing the roles of different characters, expressing what you think they would say if they were speaking. 


Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy using these creative ways to elicit language during wordless videos!

Author: Caroline Langdon, MS, CF-SLP

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice. The content is based on the author's personal experiences, research, and opinions. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified professional or expert before making any decisions or taking action based on the information provided in this blog.

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