News and Updates


Daily log of changes to state-qualifier list


Houstonfest Scholarships: Winners Posted


Scholarships at State


What's new for 2020


Arrival at Heights High School


Lunch options


Plays will be performed at Houstonfest


Teacher-to-Teacher Tips


Tips for Pair Discussion


Photo Gallery 2014



Important Dates


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 to David Kniess 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 Houstonfest !


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 Houstonfest Scholarship applications due.


Fri., Mar. 13, 2020:  Gail Cope Scholarship applications due.


Thur., April 30, 2020:  Gail Cope Spring Teacher Grant applications due.


Sun., Nov. 15, 2020:  Gail Cope Fall Teacher Grant applications due.

Tips for Pair Discussion


First, the official rules:

Entry Limit:  2 entries (pairs) per school (Level 3 only).

Discussion time:  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 contestants:

  • 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...

    Good beginning:

    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?


    Bad beginning:

    A: Towels would be nice.

    B: Or a lamp for their living room.

    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" teenagers.

  • 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 minutes.

  • 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:


In 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."


In 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."


In 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


Where is Houstonfest?


Heights High School

413 E. 13th Street

Houston, TX 77008


Link to Texas State German Contest


Texas State German Contest on Facebook