Video clips with the sound turned off are a wonderful resource for speaking activities. They provide images to talk about, normal settings and lots of repetition.
The speaking activities below are fun and easy to do with kids of any age. I started playing games like these with my kids on airplanes. We didn’t get headphones for the movies and instead would comment on what we saw on the screen.
The suggestions are roughly in order of increasing difficulty. With the more complicated tasks you can pause the video, although in general I think it is more fun if it keeps going. After all, there are no right answers and kids are calling out their responses. There is a lot of repetition, but I consider that a good thing for language learners.
Speaking Activities Using Video Clips Without Sound
1. Play ¿Qué hace? – Use verbs in the third person to say what a person or animal is doing on the screen. Call out what you see. If there are just two people playing you can alternate calling out answers if you prefer.
To make this easier for beginners, list 5-10 verbs for kids to use before you start. For very beginners, choose 3-5 actions that kids will see repeated in the clip and act them out together. Then watch the clip and call out those verbs. (The informal commands and 3rd person singular are conveniently the same for most verbs).
2. Play ¿Qué ves? – Call out items on the screen. Use full sentences by saying adding the verb hay or veo. Again, you can make this easier by listing objects for beginners before you start.
Below are possible responses for ¿Qué hace? and ¿Qué ves? based on this clip from Lassie.
¿Qué hace? – Camina. Mira. Habla. Sube. Habla. Besa. Se sienta. Se despide. Maneja. Corre. Vuela. Lleva. Corre. Vuela. Lleva. Mira. Corre. Mira.
¿Qué ves? – Veo un perro. Hay un hombre. Hay una mujer. Veo un carro. Veo una bolsa. Veo una casa. Hay una cerca. Hay un árbol. Hay un pájaro. etc.
3. Make the speaking activities I mentioned above competitive (or cooperative) by keeping score. Kids can try to be the first to use 5 or 10 different words. They list numbers on a sheet of paper and cross off a number each time they call out an answer. You can also make it cooperative and work together to reach a number of answers. You can also list the verbs, but that is less spontaneous language.
4. Call out items from a specific category – colors, furniture, animals, clothes etc.
5. Describe the people, action and setting on the screen in the third person: Hay un hombre. Es viejo. Hay una mujer y un niño. Están afuera. La mujer tiene una bolsa. etc.
6. Play ¿Qué hizo? by commenting on actions once they are completed. Again, to make speaking activities easier you can list the verbs or the conjugated verb forms before you begin. With the Lassie clip you would get verbs like these: Caminó. Miró. Habló. Subió. Habló. Besó. Se sentó. Se despidió. Corrió. etc.
7. Narrate from the point of view of the character. This is a fun game because you can interpret what is happening on the screen anyway you like. This works well with scenes from soap operas where the characters are showing lots of emotion. With the Lassie clip, you might say things like these:
– Tengo una bolsa. Es para mi hijo.
– ¿Qué es esto? No quiero esto. El carro es muy viejo.