- Keywords: Question forms, giving and asking for personal information
- Learner English level: Elementary and above
- Learner maturity: Junior high school and above
- Preparation time: None
- Activity time: 15-45 minutes
- Materials: A dice (the bigger, softer, and fluffier, the better) and a timer with an alarm
This activity can be used in a number of different contexts, ranging from general English conversation classes to short open campus demonstration lessons. While the activity focuses on the review and production of question forms and on developing students’ speaking and listening skills, it can be adapted and extended to practice all of the major language skills. Students often enjoy the chance to get up out of their seats and communicate in a freer and more flexible way than they commonly do.
Step 1: Review six question forms and elicit some example questions. Demonstrate some possible follow-up questions. The level of scaffolding needed depends on the learners.
Step 2: Allocate the six question words used in Step 1 a number from 1 to 6, for example, What – 1, Can – 2, Where – 3, etc.
Step 3: Split the students into pairs.
Step 4: Roll the dice (this can be done by the teacher in a whole-class activity, or by each pair if there are enough dice). One student then asks a question using the question word that relates to the number on the dice. After their partner answers, they can ask follow-up questions. After this has come to a natural conclusion, the partner asks a question using the same question word.
Step 5: Once the decided time for the process described in Step 4 has elapsed (typically 5-8 minutes), the alarm goes off. The students then find a new partner, and the process is repeated.
Possible extensions include getting the students to write down their partners’ answers, asking them to report on an interesting answer they got, reviewing some of the questions asked in Step 4 before moving on to Step 5, eliciting examples of follow-up questions they had asked / been asked, and students writing a short introduction of one of their partners based on the information they found out.
This dice activity could also be used to practice other target language, with the questions in this example being replaced by discussion prompts, controversial statements, role-play characters, and conversation contexts (e.g., at a restaurant).
Depending on the context in which this activity is used and the main objectives of its use, the question asking stage can range from fairly controlled to very free. In the large majority of cases that I have used this activity it has been very well received. It provides students with the opportunity to break the ice, meet new students, find out interesting information about classmates that they may not otherwise have had the opportunity to, and engage in active communication.