Rolling Dice: Speaking Games for TEFL teachers 61

All you need for these fun speaking games are some dice. I recommend you buy a few sets and carry them around with you all the time.

Dice are a great resource for TEFL teachers because they are portable and suitable for adults and kids

Speaking games for TEFL students

What I love about dice is that the options are endless, only limited by your imagination and creative ability. Let’s look at a few ways to use them.

  1. Tense reviews : Choose which tenses you want to practise (Advanced learners can practise all 12, Elementary learners could practise 2 or 3). Assign a number to each tense, for example, 6 is Present Perfect simple. Students roll the dice and have to create a sentence using the tense that corresponds with the number. Experiment with different variations such as positive, negative, questions, active, passive, correct & incorrect, subject & object pronouns etc.
  2. Question formation: Choose a question word for each number on the first dice: 1 = Who, 2 = Why, 3 = Where, 4 = When, 5 = What, 6 = How. Choose a topic for each number on the second dice: 1 = Food, 2 = Sport, 3 = Hobbies, 4 =Jobs, 5 = Clothes, 6 = Travel. If a student rolls a 3 and a 1, they have to create a question such as: Where did you eat dinner last night? You could use a third dice roll to determine who answers the question. If you have been teaching modals, use should, must, can etc. Great for Business students who can practise interview scenarios and students preparing for speaking exams.
  3. Conditionals: The first dice represents the ‘If’ clause and the second shows the result. Let students choose verbs for each number on both dice. Choose a topic like Crime to practise verbs:1 = burgle, 2 = steal, 3 = murder, 4 = mug, 5 = deceive, 6 = lie. The second dice (the results), could be possible punishments such as 1 = 10 years in prison, 2 = community service, 3 = stand in the corner etc. Students can play judge and jury, a roll of 1 and 6 could produce sentences such as: If you burgled my house, I would force you to stand in the corner of the room for 10 minutes. OK, it sounds ridiculous but the students will have a lot of fun and activate lots of vocabulary. Create superstitions, threats, promises, regrets etc.
  4. Story building: Create stories using the dice. Get students to create 12 characters, 12 locations, 12 verbs. Each roll of the dice continues the story. Before long, they’ll be generating dozens of ideas and plot lines.
  5. Practising phonemes. Choose some phonemes you want your students to practise and assign them a number from 1 to 12 (vowels), 1 – 24 (consonants). They get points for finding words which have these sounds.
  6. Functional language: The first dice shows the context such as relationships, work, travel, health. The second dice can be used to practise functions (regret, giving opinions, apologising) and their exponents (I wish I hadn’t, In my opinion, I’m awfully sorry). Before you know it, students will be creating fantastic mini-dialogues, peer-teaching, discussing meaning etc.
  7. General vocabulary game: Match a letter to a number. For instance, p is 4. A student rolls the first dice. The second dice dictates how many words they have to say with this letter. This requires no preparation and great for recycling / activating vocabulary. Also, the categories game works with dice and students can play it in groups.
  8. Phrasal verbs: The first dice indicates the verb (put, give, take, stand, look, get), the second dice is used for the preposition / particle (up, away, in, out, under, over). Students win points for creating real phrasal verbs and using them in sentences (2 and 1 might result in a sentence such as: He gave up smoking after he visited the doctor.

Tip: Make the games competitive by having different scoring systems. Two I like are:

The Dice Bomb: If students complete task or use language correctly, they roll the dice to determine how many points they’ll receive. Get the other team to choose a bomb number, e.g. 3. If the first team roll 4, they’ll get 4 points; if they roll the bomb number (3), they lose all their points.

Dice Gambling: Teams or students can choose to get 3 points for correct answers. However, they can gamble and roll the dice again and this new number will give them their points.

Finally, use dice to nominate students to answer questions or do certain tasks. This random element keeps them engaged and on their toes.

Let me know if you have any other dice games to use with your English students.

61 thoughts on “Rolling Dice: Speaking Games for TEFL teachers

  1. Pingback: Rolling Dice: Speaking Games for TEFL teachers « broadyesl

  2. Reply claudia Sep 15,2013 4:13 pm

    these ideas are really great! I’m not teaching yet bur surely I’ll use your suggestion when I will. thanks a lot!

  3. Reply Sep 15,2013 10:03 pm

    Thanks Claudia. I hope you try them.

  4. Reply yenson Sep 16,2013 1:57 pm

    I think is very useful, I’ll try with my students… How do you think I can use it with children class? Some examples please

  5. Reply Anonymous Oct 5,2013 4:39 pm

    how can I use it in the primary school?

  6. Reply Anonymous Oct 5,2013 4:47 pm

    These ideas are great!I’m using dice to play and I needed some new ideas!thanks!!!

  7. Reply Anna Fulton Oct 5,2013 4:56 pm

    Fantastic, thanks Dylan.

  8. Reply Anonymous Oct 5,2013 5:00 pm

    Fantastic & creative ways. I will apply all to my students. Thank you

  9. Reply Maria Sasieta Oct 5,2013 5:08 pm

    Awesome activities! I’m looking forward to trying them… I;m sure my students will have a lot of fun.

  10. Reply Corinne Wilhelm Oct 5,2013 5:22 pm

    I found huge soft dice that I use for this, it means that there is a lot of moving around because they have a tendency to bounce off the table etc, but that is good, gets us active. Mine are yellow and red. Kids love my dice games and I even make them make their own to practice their own vocabulary voids

  11. Reply Mena Oct 5,2013 5:51 pm

    This is really amazing, thanks a lot:)

  12. Reply Cecilia Oct 5,2013 6:59 pm

    Great ideas! Thanks a lot!

  13. Reply chnar Oct 5,2013 7:55 pm

    great idea

  14. Reply Patricia Silvina Mellino Oct 5,2013 8:17 pm

    Very creative ideas!! Thanks a lot!

  15. Reply Anonymous Oct 5,2013 9:17 pm


  16. Reply Anonymous Oct 5,2013 9:28 pm

    Great ideas. I’ll be using the one on question formation right next Monday! Thank you!

  17. Pingback: Teaching English | Sounds&Words di Diana Alliata

  18. Reply Wayan Oct 6,2013 12:45 am

    Great article, very useful. Thanks for the tips. We can also use the dice when students playing shopping game. They throw the dice to know the price of an item they are buying.

  19. Reply Natalia Oct 6,2013 12:46 am

    Thank you for these great ideas ! So helpful !

  20. Reply Anonymous Oct 6,2013 4:58 am

    really useful!!!! thanksssssssssssss

  21. Reply Robert Kaufman Oct 6,2013 4:26 pm

    These are wonderful. Another great game is “maniacal months madness”…particularly great for kids. They form groups and one student rolls the dice in each group. Then they must say the month that corresponds with the number rolled (3 = March, 4 = April, etc.) Whoever is first in the group with the correct month, gets a point and rolls next. They’ll play all day, if you let them, so I usually have them play until someone gets, say 20 points. It can also be played using a single die for the days of the week.

  22. Reply Oct 6,2013 10:15 pm

    That’s a great idea – simple and effective.

  23. Reply Ana Cabral Oct 11,2013 6:58 pm

    They rock! Thanks!!!!

  24. Reply Ana Oct 11,2013 7:38 pm

    Fantastic, thank you very much for these ideas

  25. Reply Sarah Maxwell Oct 11,2013 9:14 pm

    Thanks for the tips:) I’ll certainly try some of these ideas in my grammar lessons to liven things up!!

  26. Reply Anonymous Oct 11,2013 9:14 pm

    Great ideas!!!! I loved very single one of them and that does not happen often. I will use them in my classrooms, txal!

  27. Reply Oct 12,2013 12:07 am

    Thanks. Let me know how they go.

  28. Reply Oct 12,2013 12:08 am

    You’re welcome. Thanks for your kind words.

  29. Reply Oct 12,2013 12:09 am

    Thanks right back at you.

  30. Reply heba Oct 12,2013 8:29 am

    Thanks for sharing your brilliant ideas will sure try them

  31. Reply Oct 12,2013 10:20 am

    I hope they work well.

  32. Reply ruth Oct 12,2013 11:09 am

    Thank you Dylan, will certainly be using your ideas next week.

  33. Reply Oct 12,2013 11:12 am

    Great – best of luck with them

  34. Reply Anonymous Oct 16,2013 12:11 pm


  35. Reply martin Oct 16,2013 4:51 pm

    Great idea. I will definitely be getting myself some dice. Probably will get some big fluffy ones that all the students can see and no-one will get hurt

  36. Reply Oct 16,2013 5:18 pm

    Ha ha!!! Then you can use them for ball-throwing activities. Or you can just hang them in your car!

  37. Reply martin Oct 16,2013 6:36 pm

    Yes. That’s a point. I did have some hanging in my car, in 1970. I wonder where I put them.

  38. Reply Oct 16,2013 6:48 pm

    Let me guess – A Ford Capri!!

  39. Reply Helena Rogers (@helena_bblc) Oct 17,2013 12:04 pm

    Great to meet another ‘dicey’ teacher! I use dice a lot with primary kids for simple language practice. An example is that each number represents a room in the house or a place such as a shop, a garden etc. They roll the dice and answer the question on the board, which could be ‘what can you see in the Xroom?’. To make it more difficult and to learn about the senses the second dice could be introduced to represent the 5 senses (what can you smell etc) and the number six is what can you do here? The students have a game board of 9 places/rooms and if their answer is correct they may place a counter in that room. The first to get 3 counters in a row (noughts and crosses) wins the game. The groups decides whether or not the answer is correct.

  40. Reply Mansa Oct 17,2013 1:23 pm

    These are simply awesome!

  41. Reply Oct 17,2013 2:07 pm

    Thanks so much.

  42. Reply Oct 17,2013 2:14 pm

    Hi Helena, I love how you use a board with dice – it’s so versatile. I’m going to ‘steal’ your idea (hope you don’t mind) but use phrasal verbs rather than rooms in a house. They roll a dice and have to create a sentence using the phrasal verb on the board. Thanks for a great activity.

  43. Reply Nathalie DELAIGUE Oct 17,2013 4:40 pm

    Il really like the idea of dice. I think I’ll use them with 2 or 3 different colours for each group using dice (one colour for one topic, another colour for another purpose… so as to clearly get the mission. Thanks a lot

  44. Reply Oct 17,2013 5:02 pm

    Good idea Nathalie. You could even give each group a dice and ask them to create questions or tasks for the other groups. That would make it a very student-centred activity.

  45. Reply Mette K Oct 18,2013 7:17 am

    Thanks. Great 🙂

    I have used dices on the iPad, a simple app, where you can design your own sides and then shake the iPad when using.
    I’ve used it for deciding which activity a pupil should do (today).
    The pupils like to shake it themselves.

  46. Reply Manpreet Kaur Oct 18,2013 8:13 am

    Just what I was looking for… Many many thanks.

  47. Reply Oct 18,2013 9:57 am

    Hope the activities work well with your classes.

  48. Reply Oct 18,2013 9:59 am

    Yes, I think it’s really important that learners have some level of control over what they do in class. The dice app sounds great.

  49. Reply Graciela Oct 19,2013 12:36 am

    The Speaking Games are great!! Thanks a lot.

  50. Reply Anonymous Oct 19,2013 6:04 am

    thanks a lot … I’ll apply this

  51. Reply Anonymous Oct 19,2013 2:29 pm

    Your games with dice are so great! Thanks a lot!

  52. Reply Paty Nov 2,2013 5:32 am

    Really good ideas!! Thank you!

  53. Reply Fabiana L. de Ibarrola Nov 2,2013 7:07 pm

    Your ideas are great and useful, thank you!!!!

  54. Reply shinigomi Nov 3,2013 4:31 pm

    thanks for the ideas it’s very helpful

  55. Reply Claire Bodgers Nov 10,2013 8:50 am

    Hi, great ideas! I’ve also used a dice with snakes and ladders in a young learners setting. Normal rules applied until reaching a ladder when the ss had to spell out a word using the phonetic code that we had been studying. Obviously, the counting had to be done in English too so we also revised numbers. Great fun was had by all and the best part is that as it’s such a ludic activity, they don’t realise they are studying!!

  56. Reply Nov 10,2013 9:58 am

    Thanks Clare. I love the snakes and ladders idea! Getting students into the ‘flow’ zone where they don’t realise they are studying is vital for young learners and adults too.

  57. Reply Hosni Hfaidh Nov 16,2013 1:22 am

    Really it is an exellent way to teach language. I have a mastery degree in English , i work as an English trainer in the private sector I need these ways to be more successful in my work. I always seek for new ideas like that to be innovative and to motivate my learners and to make training easier for them. Thank you for the clear explanation for the dice game.

  58. Reply Nov 16,2013 9:54 am

    Thanks for your comment. I hope you and your learners enjoy the dice games.

  59. Reply Istiharah Feb 23,2014 11:01 am

    the games are all attractive,,, let me try them to my students

  60. Reply Anonymous Mar 27,2014 5:41 pm

    Very nice ideas! Enjoy it a lot!

  61. Reply Herbert Feb 6,2015 6:32 pm

    Thank you all for sharing all these great ideas!

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