It is my absolute pleasure to bring to you one of my favorite speaking activities of all time - "Dice Conversations." This is an activity that, with minimal preparation, challenges your students to engage in meaningful language exchange with fellow students. Once you teach your students how to do this activity, it can be adapted to almost any theme or grammar topic.
Materials needed for the "Dice conversations" speaking activity:
• A set of dice (2 dice for each partner group)
• A worksheet
Each worksheet for "Dice conversations" has a theme, with the questions on that worksheet revolving around this theme. The themes included with this product listing (and notable grammatical concepts used) include:
• Clothing and shopping
• Vacations (including weather and seasons)
• Sports and pastimes
• Housing and chores
• Daily routines (includes reflexive verbs)
• Childhood (includes the imperfect tense)
• Doctor's office and medical health (includes preterit tense)
Instructions for this "Dice Conversation" speaking activity:
• Each student receives a sheet. They should take a few minutes to read through each box on the sheet. I allow them to consult with table partners if they have any questions about understanding anything written in the boxes.
• They will be doing this activity with a partner, or with several partners. There are a couple of ways I structure this. Sometimes students sit next to a partner and have all conversations with this partner. Or sometimes I arrange all desks in a "speed dating" type set-up, allowing students to talk with numerous partners throughout the activity.
• Students begin by rolling the dice (I tell them that if they role a 6, they need to re-roll - but you could have it be a "free choice," if you wish). The two numbers on the dice should give them an option between two conversation topics. (For instance, if they get a 3 and a 5, they could go 3 over and 5 down, or 5 over and 3 down)
• The goal is for the students to have a substantive conversation about the topic in the box for some set amount of time. You as the teacher can vary this time depending on the level of your students. For students in Spanish 1, I have them start out by talking about the topic for 1 minute, then might extend to 2 or even 3 minutes by the end of the year.
• Invariably, students will complain, "HOW can I have a 2-minute conversation about (insert topic here)?!" I tell the students that this is like attending a party with people you might not know, where you are actively working to maintain and continue the conversation, no matter how awkward! This of course also allows us to work on our essential Spanish language skills, including formulating follow-up questions and spur-of-the-moment language flexibility.
• I will often do a few "demonstration" activities before asking the students to do this for the first time. In those "demonstration" conversations, I might speak with a student on a topic, or have two students do a conversation for us. I will make sure to intentionally address the invariable problem of seeming to run out of things to say. I will engage the class to help them think of appropriate follow-up questions or new turns the conversation can take.
• You might choose to have a timer displayed at the front of the room, counting up to help students monitor how long they have been conversing. We know that for students just starting out in a language, 30 seconds can feel like 5 minutes!
• While students are talking, I walk around and simply listen to conversation. Don't interrupt students as they talk - this is not a time for direct grammar instruction. If you find it helpful, point out common errors or problems you noticed at the END of the activity.
• After students have talked for the allotted amount of time, have them re-roll the dice and start in on another conversation! Repeat for as long as you'd like. I often do 4-5 rounds.
• Afterwards, as a wrap-up activity, you might choose to have students do a personal reflection on what they did well on, and things they noticed they needed practice with. This might also be a time to reflect as a class on vocabulary gaps or anything else that came up. Sometimes, I have a few students do another conversation in front of the whole class just as a way of spot-checking how their language development is going. Do this at your discretion, of course.
This product includes:
• A Microsoft Word document of 7 different dice conversation activities, based around 7 different themes
• A PDF copy of that same handout in case of any wonky formatting issues
Grammatical structures and vocabulary involved:
• present-tense verbs
• reflexive verbs (on the daily routines sheet)
• imperfect tense (on the childhood sheet)
• preterit tense (on the doctor's visits sheet)
• Vocabulary: various thematic nouns and verbs, but customizable to your units
Happy teaching and learning!