News and Updates
Daily log of changes to
Houstonfest Scholarships: Winners
Scholarships at State
What's new for 2020
Arrival at Heights High School
Plays will be performed at Houstonfest
Tips for Pair Discussion
Fri., Jan. 17, 2020: Regular deadline to submit registration
spreadsheet in order to pay regular price of $10/student (payment does not have
to be mailed until 1/27).
Mon., Jan. 27, 2020: Final deadline to submit registration spreadsheet
for late price of $12/student and deadline to postmark payment.
Mon., Feb. 3, 2020:
Proof sheet of entries sent to teachers for final
verification and changes.
Tue., Feb. 4, 2020:
Research Papers due
by 11:59 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 5, 2020,
8:00 p.m.: Deadline to submit changes (adds,
drops, substitutions). After this point, no more additions or
substitutions will be allowed in individual events. Substitutions in group events may continue in emergency situations.
Thur., Feb. 6, 2020:
Videos due to
Mark Johnson by 6:00 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 8, 2020:
Fri., Feb. 14, 2020:
State online registration due by 11:59 p.m. in
order to qualify for early-bird price of $10 per student. Online
registrations submitted after this point incur the regular registration fee of $12
per student. Also, deadline to apply for the
Mary El-Beheri Memorial Scholarship.
Fri., Feb. 21, 2020:
State online registration due by 11:59 p.m.
(regular deadline). Also, postmark deadline for State payment, regardless
of whether you completed your online registration by the early-bird or the
regular deadline. Also, deadline to submit entries for
promotional video contest to State director Jennifer Christianson.
Sat., Feb. 29, 2020: Leap into the Texas State German Contest !
Sat., Mar. 7, 2020:
Fri., Mar. 13, 2020:
Scholarship applications due.
Thur., April 30, 2020:
Spring Teacher Grant applications due.
Sun., Nov. 15, 2020:
Gail Cope Fall Teacher Grant applications due.
Tips for Pair
First, the official rules:
entries (pairs) per school (Level 3 only).
3 minutes (not
including a 30-second reflection time).
A pair of contestants draws a topic instructing them to plan something (trip,
purchase, celebration, etc.). Both are expected to make suggestions and voice
opinions, to agree or disagree, and to make alternative suggestions. At the end
of the discussion, they must come to an agreement.
The topics will pertain to the
daily life of teenagers. No contestant pairs will have the same topic. From
the time the topic is drawn, the contestants may take up to 30 seconds to read
the topic and gather their thoughts, but they may not speak to each other
during this time. At the end of the 30 seconds, the contestants have 3
minutes to role-play the situation. The two team members will be scored
independently of one another, but both scores will be added together to obtain
the team score, i.e., contestants
will be ranked
and potentially advance to State
as a team.
Download critique sheet
Now, some tips to the
Make good use of the
30-second reflection time to brainstorm ideas, but remember that you can't
consult with your partner during this time. The time is meant purely
for you to read the prompt and gather your own thoughts.
Start the conversation by
taking a few seconds to establish the scenario from the prompt card rather
than launching immediately into debating the solution. Although the
judges will know what is on your prompt card, it will create a more natural
conversational flow if you restate the situation (in your own words) and
THEN start exchanging ideas. For instance, if the prompt tells you to
discuss ideas for a wedding gift...
A: Hey, Thomas and
Wiebke are getting married next weekend. Are you invited?
B: Yes, I am, and I
haven't bought them a gift yet. Do you have any ideas?
A: I haven't bought
them anything, either. Maybe some nice towels?
A: Towels would be
B: Or a lamp for their
In the first example, the
contestants have begun the conversation in the way that such a conversation
would start in the real world. In the second example, there is no
context; it's as if we've been plopped into the middle of the conversation
and we don't know what it's about.
Be assured that the prompts
are realistic situations that teenagers would encounter in daily life.
You will not be asked to pretend that you are someone you aren't, such as a
doctor or a police officer. Both contestants will be "playing"
Don't panic if the
conversation starts off slowly. Just keep plugging away, and in most
cases, the words will start coming faster as you get deeper into the 3
The judges will give you a
signal when there are 30 seconds left. At this point, wrap up the
conversation, perhaps restating some of the things you have agreed on.
Finally, some video samples:
Sample 1, Sindhu and Danita of
Clements High School
are playing out this scenario (which is NOT one of the prompts that will
be in the deck at contest): "Your friend Lothar in Germany is working on a
project about Texas in his English class. He asks you why -- if at all --
someone should visit Houston. Discuss what advice to give him."
Sample 2, Sindhu and Danita are playing this scenario (which is
also NOT one of the 30
prompts in the deck of prompt cards): "It has been a tradition in your
German class to celebrate Nikolaustag on December 6. The principal
of your school suggests that you end this tradition because it has a Christian
origin. Discuss counterarguments."
Sample 3, Dakota and Alex of
the Westchester Academy of International Studies are discussing the same prompt
from Sample 1 (Lothar wanting to know what's interesting about Houston).
Thanks to their teacher Jürgen Müller for making the recording and for writing
the two sample prompts.
When is the next Houstonfest?
February 6, 2021
Heights High School
413 E. 13th Street
Houston, TX 77008
Link to Texas
State German Contest
State German Contest on Facebook