Level: minimum intermediate speakers, no maximum


Depending on the teacher's preselected topics and unique sentences, this activity forces practice for any range of grammar or vocabulary issues. More importantly, students get to practice the skill of conversation steering, leading a conversation toward a desired communication goal, in their new language. Very empowering!


Given preselected topics and secret phrases, teams compete in detecting each other's conversation steering tactics, and steering without being detected.


Teacher's preselected topics, and secret phrases written on discreet/discrete pieces of paper.


  1. Split the class in half. Try to fairly distribute different home languages and abilities.
  2. Seat one representative from each team opposite each other in front of the class.
  3. The teacher silently decides on a topic, and then covertly reveals one relevant phrase to each of the team representatives. The representatives are instructed to keep their secret phrases to themselves.
  4. The teacher announces the topic, tells the representatives to start talking, and sets a time limit, say from two to four minutes. In as undetectable manner as possible, the representatives each try to work their given secret phrases into their conversation with each other.
  5. The team members try to detect when their opposing team's representative uses the pre-determined secret phrase. They shout "Stop!" so the teacher can verify and award points. If the team detects correctly, the teacher awards them one point, and the conversation continues until the other representative uses the secret phrase either detected or undetected. A team may shout "Stop!" only twice during a round. If, at the end of the given time limit, a representative has succeeded in the undetected use of a given secret phrase, that team is awarded a point. If either representative fails to use a given secret phrase within the time limit, that team is penalized one point. In a given round, a team can earn a maximum of two points and lose a maximum of one point.

Suggested Topics:

Weather, Travel, Shopping, Fashion, Health, Education, Family, Technology, and students can recommend topics to the teacher for future games.

Teachers' Choice of Secret Phrases:

The teacher must prepare sets of secret phrases relevant to each potential topic. These phrases should be selected according to the grammar and vocabulary practice needs of the class.