Friday, January 22, 2016

Using Dice in Language Teaching

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{NOTE: This is a re-post with added information and ideas.}

I love making language learning into a game if possible. Even if the activity we are doing isn't really a game, dice give a hands-on experience to what we are practicing in the language.  There are several types of dice that I use when teaching.

Dice Within Dice are great for practicing sentence constructions, verb conjugations, and adjective/noun agreement.  On my whiteboard I will normally make two lists.

1. Uds.
2. yo
3. Carla y yo
4. ella
5. tu
6. Ud.

1. decir la verdad
2. hacer la tarea
3. pedir la comida
4. encontrar un gato en la calle
5. salir con amigos
6. perder los libros

Students takes turns rolling their "Die within a Die" and creating a sentence.  For example, if a student rolled a "2" for the colored die and a "4" for the white die, the sentence she would need to come up with would be "Yo encuentro un gato en la calle."

One way to mix this activity up a bit is for the teacher to participate.  I roll the dice and then say the sentence, but I don't always do it correctly.  It is the students' job to figure out if the sentence is "correcto" or "incorrecto".

This method could be done with lots of types of sentences.  Here are some ideas:

-Subjects and adjectives {Ella es flaca.}  Great for practicing noun/adjective agreement.

-Subjects and items we know.  {Ella sabe bailar.   or  Yo conozco a la profesora.}  This is great for practicing the difference between saber and conocer.

-Subjects and adjectives-some that take ser and other estar.  {Nosotros estamos aburridos.   or  Uds. son altos.}

-Even more complex sentences can be done if you give the students three dice (or one die within a die and a single separate die).  For example...
Subjects-objects-recipients of the objects {Yo le doy la bici a Ricardo.}  Or use double object pronouns...{Yo se la doy.}

-Also with three dice:  Subject-preposition-place  {Yo estoy a la derecha de la silla.}

-With four dice or two dice within dice...
subject-verb that takes subjunctive-subject-second verb  {Yo quiero que Carlos haga la cama.}

-Or how about practicing different verb tenses? Use three regular dice...Subject-verb-tense to see if your students can conjugate into the correct mood or tense.

NOTE: Sometimes when working with big groups of students I break them down into groups of four and have them write down the sentences they create to have a record of what they did in their groups.

Blank White Dice hold a plethora of possibilities!! You could write subject pronouns on them to work with sentence building. Or maybe you want to write the names of tenses on them to use. Another idea is to write the infinitives of verbs especially the irregular ones that need tons of practice.

Number Dice are great for practicing saying the numbers out of order.  It is great when a student can learn to count in Spanish or another language, but the true test is when they can see the number and tell you what it is.  Sure, students for awhile might have to "count up" to tell you the number, but the more they practice the easier it gets.  I use one to four of these dice and have them roll them all at once. Then they have to line them up and tell me what number they have. Great for older students needing to practice higher numbers like 4,350 or 1,642.

Another option is to have a group of number dice on the table and then call out a number that the student then has to create with the dice.

Math Operation Dice along with regular dice can be used to do math problems in the target language.

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