Education Wales: Throw of the Dice Helps to Improve Communication Skills; Teacher's `Eureka Moment' Turns into Business Moving into International Markets

Article excerpt

Byline: Carl Yapp

IT is fascinating how something as simple and as innocent as throwing a dice can be developed to improve a set of procedures that are a vital in our search for individual and global harmony.

The aim of the innovative Talking Dice is to stimulate, inspire and improve the communication and listening skills of both children and adults.

Pictured on sides of a dice is a variety of topics including weather, occupations, people, pets and transport. Pupils roll several different dice and then have to construct interesting sentences or short stories using all the pictures.

Launched in October 2000, it is the brainchild of Emily Daly, a former languages teacher at Cardiff's Llanishen High School.

She developed the idea to teach her own pupils but gave up her job when orders began to flood in from across the UK and abroad. So far, her exciting new product has been supplied to schools in Britain, Jersey, Germany, Poland and Hong Kong. And she has received inquiries from Australia, Malawi, Sweden and Jordan. In a major step for the company, she heads for Portugal next month to a trade fair which will officially mark her move into the European market.

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.

After formulating her product, Mrs Daly 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.

It's being used to teach Urdu, Welsh and other languages to children and to sailors in the Royal Navy. It is also being used by speech therapists and to teach basic skills to adults.

Mrs Daly described Talking Dice as her Eureka moment when she discovered that something as simple as a cube could be used to encourage children to learn about two vital skills - communicating and listening.

``The dice has been designed to improve speaking and listening skills,'' she said. ``All topics are linked to the national curriculum and can be used for any age or ability.

``We now supply the dice to nursery, primary and secondary schools, to special needs departments, adult literacy and language study groups, and speech and language therapists.

``There has also been interest from other organisations for developing their own company-specific dice.

``As we continue to grow in the UK and as we move into international markets, it has become increasingly important to make sure that we have ownership of our creativity and our product is properly protected.''

She added, ``It was a defining moment when I came up with Talking Dice. …