Codewords, English game to be adapted for any language

Please Note: Many of the activities on the Pathways Project OER Repository were created by upper-division students at Boise State University and serve as a foundation that our community of practice can build upon and refine. While they are polished, we welcome and encourage collaboration from language instructors to help modify grammar, syntax, and content where needed. Kindly contact with any suggestions and we will update the content in a timely manner.  — The Pathways Project

About the Boise State World Languages Resource Center (WLRC) Language Activity Repository

The activities provided by the Boise State World Languages Resource Center (WLRC) serve as foundational activities which can be adapted by any language and scaled up or down on the proficiency scale. Many of these activities offer an English Version that is “language-agnostic” to provide language instructors from around the country a platform to remix these instructional materials, infusing them with their target language and culture! The activities within the Pathways Project OER Repository seek to help students solidify their interpersonal speaking and interpretive skills through task-based situations or communicative activities. These activities should be facilitated in the target language for approximately 90% (or more), per the recommendation of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

How to use the WLRC Repository’s Activities:

1. Use the Activity as is:

Before you begin:

  • Most activities are 30 minutes in duration, unless otherwise specified.
  • Be sure to read through the activity description, and review the list of required materials. You will notice that the activity materials are also highlighted in yellow throughout the activity instructions.

If you have any suggestions about grammar, syntax, and content, please kindly contact

2. Remix for Your Language Classroom:

When you are ready to begin remixing the activity, in order to adapt it for the needs of your language classroom, simply click the blue “Remix This Resource” button at the top of your screen. This will then take you to a screen with a NEW, editable version of this activity. The text provided in purple is a suggestion of what you might say to your students in the target language, and may be altered for different levels and age groups. All activities have “NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do” statements, a warm-up, a main activity, and a wrap-up.

Many of the activities include printable cards and other instructional materials such as Google Slideshows. If you would like to make changes to these materials in Spanish, follow the instructions below:

  • Google Slideshows:
    • To begin, go to File -> Copy to create an editable version of the slideshow.
    • Once finished with your changes, please complete the following steps to share:
    • Click on Share
    • Who Has Access
    • Ensure link sharing is on and allow external access.
  • Materials Saved as PDF: Please email and we will provide you with an editable copy. Please allow up to two business days for a response. For YouTube videos and other websites, hyperlinks are provided. 

3. Adapt for Another Language:

  • See the linked English Version at the top of the activity (English Version may not be available for all activities)

Codenames, Intermediate Low


This activity allows students to practice describing vocabulary words using memorized descriptors. Students will learn more ways to describe items and topics. 

Proficiency Level:

Intermediate Low


Game, codenames, colors, objects, items, places, clothing, food

World-Readiness Standards:

Standard 1.1 Students engage in conversations, provide and obtain information, express feelings and emotions, and exchange opinions.

Standard 1.2 Students understand and interpret spoken and written English on a variety of topics.

Standard 3.1 Students reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through English. 

Idaho Content Standards for World Languages:

COMM 1.1: Interact and negotiate meaning (spoken, signed, written conversation) to share information, reactions, feelings, and opinions

COMM 2.1: Understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, or viewed on a variety of topics.

CONN 1.1: Compare and contrast information acquired from other content areas.

CONN 1.2: Relate information studied in other subjects to the target language and culture.

NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements:

  • I can identify everyday items based on clues provided to me
  • I can describe words using one word
  • I can provide specific clues about a word 

Materials Needed:

Codewords Word Cards (to edit, make a copy and edit the copy) 

Color Cards

Position Cards


1. Begin by introducing today's Can-Do statements. 

2. Review any vocabulary words that students might be unfamiliar with. (Adjectives, nouns, etc.)

Main Activity

1. Students will divide into two teams. Students will decide amongst themselves who will be the red team and who will be the blue team. 

(The lab instructor will facilitate the game). 

2. Place the Codenames Cards on the table in 4x4 pattern. Make sure that all students can see the words on the cards. 

3. One student on each team will provide the clues. The rest will guess the words that match the clues. The student who is providing the clues will receive one of the Position Cards

4. The student providing clues will use one word to describe one or multiple words that correlate with the words on the cards that match the color they picked. 

Ex.) If one red card is "ladybug" and another red card is "flower", the student providing clues could say "natural, two", describing the cards and listing the number of cards that apply. 

5. One student from the student providing clues will have a chance to guess the word(s) the first student described. If they guess correctly and those clues matched with the position card, the student will receive two color cards. Remove the cards they correctly guessed from the board. It is now the next student's turn to guess. the student providing clues will continue until they have guessed all the words or until one of the students guesses the wrong word. 

6. If the student guesses a word that belongs to the other team, the turn moves to the other team who repeats the same steps. 

7. Students must be careful because there is a "double agent", which is the grey spot on the board. If the students guess the grey word, their team loses the game completely. 

8. Play until students on both teams guess all the words on the board, or until they guess the grey word. 

9. If there is time, have students play multiple rounds. Shuffle the word cards and distribute new position cards to start a new round. 


Ask students the following questions to finish the lab: 

1. What was most difficult about describing the words? 

2.What word was the least difficult to describe? 

3. Which word was the most difficult? 

End of lab:

  • Read can-do statements and have students evaluate their confidence with cards 
  • Encourage students to be honest in their self evaluation
  • Pay attention, and try to use feedback for future labs!

NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements:

  • I can identify everyday items based on clues provided to me
  • I can describe words using one word
  • I can provide specific clues about a word 
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