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  • ¡A debate! Estrategias para la interacción oral by Javier Muñoz-Basols, Elisa Gironzetti, and Yolanda Pérez
  • Suzanne A. Johnston
Muñoz-Basols, Javier, Elisa Gironzetti, and Yolanda Pérez. ¡A debate! Estrategias para la interacción oral. Madrid: Edelsa, 2013. Pp. 171. ISBN 978-8-47711-797-1.

¡A debate! Estrategias para la interacción oral provides a strong outline for guiding students through the complexities of oral communication. As stated by the authors, this book’s intended audience is C1–C2 level students. This level, roughly advanced-low by ACTFL standards, is an accurate description of the language proficiency required for this textbook. The main focus of this text is developing advanced-level conversational skills that would be too complex for lower-level students. These tasks include the development of discourse modes that include argumentation, debate, and presentation, amongst many others.

The format of this text is such that each chapter contains a specific theme. Each chapter guides learners through various tasks, with the beginning of each lesson containing an adapted interview, presented in text (transcribed) and via audio format (on CD). Unfortunately, on the CD, two actors, not the original interviewer and interviewee, read the adapted text, which does not give the students proper exposure to real-life dialogue or accents. While the written form may provide a purpose in some chapters (especially the earlier chapters, in which the text may help students scaffold their listening or help the students parse the incoming aural stream), its appearance in later chapters may negate the function of having learners listen. Unless instructors take independent measures to adapt these activities to focus more squarely on natural listening skills, these semi-authentic, textbook-interview activities will hardly encourage students to practice real-life, aural-skills communication.

The second section, Más palabras, focuses on having learners examine new words and colloquialisms in accordance with the linguistic goal of each theme and in preparation for their closing activities. These sections tend to be more form-focused and are less communicative in nature, with some exceptions appearing throughout the text. The vocabulary lists here are extensive, even for advanced level learners, and exercises favor chunk memorization rather than communicative practice. As such, there is little focus on communicating meaning, which seemingly negates [End Page 178] the communicative intent of the book itself. However, the textbook does provide learners with exposure to new words that they may not have noticed or practiced otherwise.

The following section, entitled Destacado, is the shining star within the textbook. This is where learners continue their practice although with more focus on culture and real-world history and concepts along with further vocabulary building. These sections serve a multitude of functions within the context of communication in the classroom. First, they relate the vocabulary and grammar learned from the two previous areas with real-life concepts and knowledge. For example, students may be guided through a song by a famous artist or be asked to discuss a contemporary cultural issue. Should instructors wish to ignore the more forms-focused activities, they would easily find inspiration within these activities to create their own lesson plans. On the other hand, if an instructor finds him or herself wanting to focus on form, the activities before this section provide them with the necessary structure.

Each chapter also includes a short independent section on culture. While content varies, the type of activity is repetitious with role-plays. However, this section can be praised for its more diverse content. The culture points can appear to be too Spain-centered at times, but they do offer information from all over the Spanish-speaking world, thereby increasing the learners’ exposure to culture and history. These sections would work best with an instructor who is willing to move outside of the confines of the book and create supplemental materials, or to change the textbook’s goals for this section of the lesson.

The final thematic section is the chapter closing in which learners put to use all of the skills they have been exposed to in the previous sections. There are varied activities that are available for practice, but the most important activity...