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How to play Sonidos Secretos: trust me, your students will thank you!

The origin of Sonidos Secretos

Sonidos Secretos is one of my favorite speaking activities. Believe it or not, it is an activity I designed based on a request from a student. She had seen a funny clip on a TV show and asked if I could make a similar game for our class. We played right there and then in class, an impromptu round with two students in the front of the room and I used a small whiteboard standing behind the pair of students. It was so fun and silly that I went home that night and created the template and instructions, so that all students could participate the next time we played!

I love that it is a low pressure activity that gets students “speaking,” thinking, and guessing all in the target language! Our room FILLS with laughter every single time we play.

Keep reading for a full game tutorial, link to a free version, and various resources for use with your students!

Teachers and Students Love Sonidos Secretos

Since those first few sets were posted online, LOTS of teachers have shared videos of their students using this activity on social media! I have loved all of the silly videos – keep them coming! 

Feel free to tag me on Instagram @theengagedspanishclassroom and search #sonidossecretos to see videos from teachers all over the world!

I originally designed this activity as a fun brain break, but quickly realized how *sneaky helpful* it is. Whenever I give my participation reflections at midterms and report cards, my students consistently request this activity.

I often ask “Which class activity helps you to feel more confident in your speaking skills?” and the answers are overwhelmingly Citas Cortas, Sonidos Secretos, and Llama Mía (in that order.) 

When I ask students WHY this activity is helpful, these are the types of answers I hear most often:

  • “It really makes me pay attention to my pronunciation”
  • “I don’t feel pressured at all so I’m not nervous”
  • “The slow repetition helps me so much”
  • “When it’s my turn to guess, I actually think in Spanish and I like that part!”

I always ask the students to reflect after we do this activity. “What helped you? Do you think you spoke more Spanish today than on a typical day? How do you feel about your pronunciation?”

Once, I used this activity during an observation by my department head. In my observation report, my department head noted that a student near her quietly said to herself “Wow, I’m just now realizing how much that activity actually helps me” during our post – Sonidos debrief. If I ever needed a reason to make time for this “fun” activity… that whispered realization was enough for me!

How to Play Sonidos Secretos



This activity provides a low-pressure repetitive speaking opportunity for students. 

Students sit in pairs (groups of 3 are possible if needed, but not ideal)

The pairs of students will work together to decipher the Sonidos Secretos written on their game cards. There is usually a lot of giggles, and a lot of (ridiculous) *SPANISH* guesses!

The activity also includes an optional written extension activity. You could easily differentiate and build upon the written or spoken pieces as well!


::Medium prep required, cutting cards::

It does take a bit of time to cut the cards for this activity. I save my cards in a ziploc baggie (glamourous, I know) from year to year so that I don’t have to re-prepare the game cards the following year. The only piece that you’d need to prepare again would be the response sheet, which is just 1 page per student/pair.

To get ready your first time, print enough copies of the game for half of your class. For example, a class of 28 would need 14 game sets. Each game set from my TPT is fairly large, though, so you *could* print fewer copies and split up the decks, as long as students remember to combine them correctly after the activity for storage.

I print a response sheet for each student, so that I can collect them afterwards. You could have each pair work on one response sheet if desired, and ask them to initial their personal answers. This would be a fast way to save paper (and check their work quicker too!)

I should mention that the response sheets are completely optional; YOU decide whether or not you’d like your students to participate in the written portion. Sometimes I make this decision based on time, or based on whether I have response sheets printed. I keep a stack of about 50 response sheets printed at all times; no matter the unit, I know I have the game cards ready in my drawer and I know I can pull response sheets from this pile and BAM #SonidosSecretos is always ready 😉 !!

When you are ready, distribute the game cards and response sheets to your pairs, and instruct them to NOT look at the game cards. They must keep them in a stack, face-down on the desk.


::Game can be played for any amount of time, whether you have 5 minutes or 20::

Seat students in pairs. Groups of 3 are OK if needed but not ideal.

Each pair of students needs at least one pair of headphones, and one device that can play music (phone, iPad, etc.) My students usually prefer if they each have their own headphones and device, but sometimes sharing is caring!

To explain, I will refer to the two students as Student A and Student B.

1. Student A puts in his/her headphones, and listens to music at a *somewhat* loud level. No hearing damage needed, but they should not be able to hear if their partner were to whisper to them. (I usually require my students to show me that they have chosen a Spanish artist/station!)
2. Student B chooses a card from the top of the stack. The card will have a familiar (or unfamiliar, heh) sentence printed on it. Student B does not show the card to Student A. Student B must instead SLOWLY and CLEARLY speak the sentence aloud. They must take care to enunciate and be dramatic. Their goal is to get Student A to guess the complete phrase, even though their music is playing and they cannot actually hear their partner. (You decide if they can move one word at a time, etc.) 
3. When Student B confirms that Student A has correctly deciphered the phrase, student A can write the phrase on their response sheet. If you like, you can check their answers as they go along. You can also remove the writing portion if you don’t have time for it.
4. Student A removes their headphones, and Student B puts them on and plays music. They switch roles back and forth at their own speed, or with your cues!

I love that throughout each round, ALL of the guesses are IN SPANISH! This gets our students thinking and communicating completely in the target language. It is amazing to see my Spanish 3 students dig into their memory for any word that ends in “pa” or “ma” if they are confident that they need that syllable.

It makes my day to walk around and hear their guesses. They end up laughing at themselves, and the whole mood of the class is lifted 🙂

Why Sonidos Secretos? 

If you need more reasons to try, here are mine!
  • This activity can be adapted for ANY vocabulary or grammar topic 
  • I can easily differentiate by requiring additional writing or speaking (for example instead of sentences, maybe the cards are filled with questions. After discovering the question, students must also provide their personal answer)  
  • Who doesn’t love laughter? 
  • Who doesn’t love seeing their students excited about the target language?
  • Did I mention that my students end up THINKING in the target language without realizing it!? And without feeling like they are under pressure!? *Claps in Spanish*
  • Each semester I learn new ways that my students find this activity helps them
  • My students *ask* for this speaking activity. That doesn’t happen often with speaking activities!
  • I could keep going, but I’m going to stop so that you print this free version and try it yourself! Or grab the editable templates to make your own, forever and ever!

Time to try it!

You can find all of my pre-made Sonidos Secretos sets here. I love using this activity in all levels of Spanish class to build confidence with my more apprehensive learners. I also love using it in my classes that need a little bit of a morale boost, or if it gets too quiet! In all levels, it is great for a brain break or to motivate additional speaking. This activity can be modified to support students of all proficiency levels. Building confidence is a huge stepping stone to achieving proficiency 🙂 and enjoying class is important too, for students AND teachers!!!!!

Thank you to the teachers who have shared their experiences with me!

See videos from other teachers here!
or visit my IG and click on my story highlight “In the wild” to see even more!!
All classroom photos from this post were shared on IG by @senorakinneer and used here with her permission. Follow her to see more! As always, thank you for sharing, Señora 🙂

Interested in more free resources?

Thank you for reading!

I hope your students love this activity as much as mine do. Make sure you download the free version from this post, and comment below to let me know how it goes!
Feel free to tag me @theengagedspanishclassroom on social media to show me how you’re using my activities! I love to see! 🙂
Talk to you soon profe,
Please feel free to share this post with your world language teacher colleagues and friends!
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My name is Erin and I have 10 years of experience teaching high school Spanish. I love building positive student relationships and bringing a bit of fun into my lessons to keep my students engaged!

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