Launched in 2000, Talking Dice is the brainchild of Emily Daly, a former Languages teacher at Llanishen High School in Wales. Realising the importance of maintaining interest in the classroom, her motivation was to create something that was fun and easy to use, which she hoped would encourage pupils to communicate: "I felt there was a lack of spontaneity about teaching languages and I was looking for a way to make the process a lot more interesting for the pupils," she explains. "So I covered dice with pictures and got students to construct sentences using what appeared when the dice were thrown."
Talking Dice took the teaching community by storm and the product was an immediate hit: "Teachers have said to me that children have so much imagination and energy in the playground, but when you ask them to come up with something in the classroom they lack ideas. Talking Dice helps children in this way and two rolls of the dice are never the same so it sustains their interest."
Within two years of coming up with the idea, she had given up teaching and was running her Talking Dice business full-time, travelling all over Europe and learning how to draw up business plans: "It was a very exciting few years. I travelled all over the place and learnt a lot of skills," says Emily.
After formulating her product, Emily did not realise initially how flexible her idea would be, not just as a tool for learning language, but, as it is now also being used, to promote writing skills and help individuals with learning difficulties: “Lots of different types of people were using it, not just for learning languages. Speech therapists found it a great way of helping their patients with speech, private companies were buying it to use as an icebreaker for conferences, we even sold one to a magician.”
Sadly, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis Emily took the decision to sell Talking Dice. She went on to work as a Modern Foreign Languages advisor for Cardiff Council, but the business is still close to her heart. "It was such an exciting time in my life, but I couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband and children. It took a lot of courage because the money coming in would be in fits and starts. Talking Dice is still going and I am very proud of it."
Talking Dice is a unique and creative way to teach language skills to any age and ability. Because they are picture based, the dice can be used to teach ANY first or second language in a variety of ways.
Talking Dice are used by thousands of language teachers, primary school teachers and speech therapists worldwide. Combining visual and oral practice really helps the learning process and aids long term retention.
The number of different ways that a set of dice can be used to get you talking is endless, and limited only by the imagination. Talking Dice fit into your current lessons in minutes, with no extra planning, and minimal teacher input. There is no other language teaching resource that can be used to teach any language, nor has the same Visual Auditory Kinaesthetic (VAK) qualities as Talking Dice.
Talking Dice can be rolled on their own or in multiples of different topics to help sentence building, grammar use and language skills generally. The applications for Talking Dice are incredibly diverse; for example, they can be used for:
"The WJEC views Talking Dice as an innovative initiative that will assist in stimulating a range of students in variety of subjects that have oral requirements. Talking Dice will be of benefit in language subjects, particularly at entry level."
Brian Rogers, Assistant Director, Welsh Joint Education Committee
"I cannot praise Talking Dice enough! They are a 'must have' for all teachers, as they give children the opportunities to have fun whilst learning. The dice are big, bright and colourful, and immediately capture the interest of the pupils, which is imperative when teaching."
Sophie Cunningham, Primary Teacher, South Wales
"Every so often, simple but great teaching ideas are created. Talking Dice is one such powerful teaching aid that should be in all our schools."
Brendan Culligan - Head of English, Froebel College of Education
"Talking Dice are quite a revolutionary idea, and have provided fun, spontaneity, competition and plenty of volume to my teaching. The vast rage of complexity levels, to say nothing of the number of permutations, never ceases to amaze me."
Bryson Wood, Head of Modern Languages, St Christopher's School, Bahrain
"Simple in conception, yet almost infinitely versatile in their application, Talking Dice enables learners to acquire any language in a variety of ways, and to practise it in a context that makes learning interesting, efficient, and fun. From simple naming of objects to the construction of sentences, dialogues, and dramas, Talking Dice take the learner through a progressive set of exercises and activities, which teach and reinforce language."
I.C.Maun MA MPhil, Lecturer, University of Exeter
"Talking Dice are suitable for all language learners of all abilities, from young children acquiring their mother tongue, to pupils learning a second language, to PGCE modern language students improving their subject knowledge, to adult learners. No adaptation is required for them to be used for any language, and they can genuinely increase spontaneous speech and learner confidence. This is truly an ingenious idea. Practising grammar has now become a fun exercise!"
Nigel Norman, PGCE Modern Foreign Language Tutor, University of Wales, Swansea
"The dice are fabulous, particularly as they can be used for any language. I teach both ESOL and German, and I'm always glad when resources can be multi-functional."
Mrs Almut Stanley, IATEFL
"I use Talking Dice in my French lessons with pupils who have moderate or severe learning difficulties. The visual, tactile and kinaesthetic aspects of Talking Dice all aid their understanding, memory, and speaking skills. I ordered the dice one afternoon, and they were in school the next day - brilliant service, or what?"
Theresa Newlands, Language Teacher, The Cedar School for the Physically Handicapped