One of the most challenging skills for students to develop is the ability to speak at length coherently. While the Ask-Answer-Add method is fantastic for teaching and practicing conversation patterns, high-stakes exams, such as TOEFL iBT, Pearson Test of English, and IELTS, essentially require students to deliver monologues.
Therefore, the question becomes how do we have students practice delivering extended speech in an engaging manner?
Enter “Speaking Dice”
Activity: Speaking Dice
Materials: A die and a timer
Duration: 15 minutes to 2 hours
First, divide the students into pairs. Label one student as “A” and the other as “B.”
Next, elicit common speaking topics and write them vertically on the board – ten is a good. If you are practicing for a specific exam, be sure to guide your students to nominate topics that are found on that exam. Need some suggestions? Click here for TOEFL iBT and here for IELTS.
Next, select six topics from the list and number. For example:
- Daily Routines
Now, tell students you are going to roll a die and that Student A will have 15 seconds to prepare before having to speak for one minute on the corresponding topic. For example, if I rolled a six, I would say:
Student A, you have 15 seconds to think starting now.
(15 seconds later)
Times up. Begin speaking now.
Once a minute has passed, it’s time for Student B to deliver feedback to Student A:
Student B, you have 15 seconds to prepare your feedback.
(15 seconds later)
Alright. You have one minute. Begin speaking now.
How does Student B know what to give feedback on? Well, I’m a firm believer in having students paraphrase the grading rubric that they will be assessed with. Why? Because when students know how they will be assessed, they are much more likely to focus on improving in the areas where they need to improve in order to get the score they need.
To that end, if you plan on using this activity in your exam prep class, I recommend having the students use a simplified version (or checklist) of the speaking rubric used for their exam. Consequently, you can find the public version of the IELTS speaking rubric here, the TOEFL iBT speaking rubric here, and PTE speaking rubric on page 21 of this booklet.
Finally, once Student B has given their feedback and I’ve given whatever supplementary feedback I feel is necessary, students change roles, I role the die again and it is Student B’s turn to speak and Student A’s turn to evaluate.
That’s it! I’ve used this activity with students as young as 16 and as old as 60 and it has always been a hit.
Note Taking – Since students are allowed to take notes for IELTS Speaking Part 2 as well as every question on the TOEFL iBT, I encourage both students to take notes.
Changing Partners – Be sure to switch partners every three to five rolls of the die.