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Human beings have always been inclined to communicate and exchange ideas, opinions, and sentiments with each other. This interchange has been traditionally called conversation or dialogue. The range of topics of conversation has been extremely wide, from the superficial discussion of weather to the most profound theological, philosophical or scientific themes. However, over the years, too many Spanish ''conversation'' classes have been based on the acquisition of facts about Spanish or ''Hispanic'' culture and civilization or a review of grammatical concepts instead of a real opportunity for students to discuss issues of ''universal'' importance.
The authors of this text have long felt that there should be a time and a place for Spanish-language students to discuss and exchange ideas on conventional topics, which can be relevant, interesting, and provocative. We concluded that conversation was best achieved in an atmosphere of controversy or debate concerning material that is common enough to evoke an opinion from everyone. It is comfortable conversing with someone who agrees with everything we say, but it is challenging and exciting to exchange ideas with someone with a different viewpoint. The material we chose had to be familiar to everyone because, otherwise, a conversation could become one-sided and dull. (Have you ever had to listen to someone describe a movie that he/she has seen but you haven't?)
We do not claim to have covered all topics or interests and neither do we pretend that all the topics which we selected will be of interest to everyone, but we do feel that any reasonably mature, informed student should have an opinion to contribute.
We must also make clear that we do not claim to be factually correct or accurate in the opinions expressed in these themes. Sometimes we deliberately exaggerate and distort perceptions, just as anyone in the street (or classroom) might. Neither do we claim to have exhausted all arguments pro or con, but we have attempted to maintain a balance in the presentation of the various sides of each issue. Our purpose is not to propagandize. We hope to challenge all opinions. While the style and language are as correct as humanly possible, there are no literary pretensions. We have tried to make the level of language appropriate to students with more than a good grasp of basic Spanish. We hope that we have provided a useful vehicle of conversation for students with a good understanding of the Spanish language.
Those colleagues who have used one or more of the prior editions will notice some significant changes. We have added an introductory section called ''Opiniones de la gente de ja calle'' in which we try to mimic some spontaneous opinions that we might hear from a variety of people on the street. These opinions range from outrageous to thought-provoking. You and your students will probably find one that is similar to your own. To provide a break from the generally very serious themes, we have included some much lighter chapters called Interludios. These chapters may be lighter in nature, but may still stir up passions, as they often do in real life. Thanks to suggestions by Mariam Rohlfing, the structure review will provide additional conversational opportunities while reinforcing grammatical concepts of previous study.
As with our previous editions, we wish to thank our family and friends, who have always given us encouragement and support. To our colleagues who have supported our work by using previous editions, we are also deeply indebted. We hope that you find this new edition even more useful than the first three. We are most appreciative of the encouragement and understanding of Mariam Rohlfing, Kristine Suarez, Rosemary Bradley, and the rest of the staff at Prentice Hall. They had faith in us and created the opportunity to make this book a reality.
To the Instructor
We believe that the success of the use of this book depends heavily on the small-group format. From the very first day you should consider dividing the class into groups of four or five so that as many students as possible are talking and expressing their ideas. For each chapter you should assign a ''director(a)'', whose role should be to stimulate and maintain a lively conversation, completely in Spanish. Another. student in the group should be assigned the role of ''secretario(a)'', and this person should take notes during the conversation and then give a resume of the group's opinions in the next class meeting.
Grades should be based on the oral performances of the ''directores'' and ''secretarios''. The ''directores'' should prepare questions and comments to elicit reactions and responses from the rest of the group. If a group is too quiet and apathetic, the ''director(a)'' should bear responsibility. The oral report of the ''secretario(a)'' must also be interesting and lively, showing evidence of good preparation.
We have added an introductory section called ''Opiniones de la gente de la calle''. Possibly before your small-group discussions, you can have the class read these divergent and often contradictory opinions for their spontaneous reactions. This introduction can be your opportunity to update and personalize the statements of this section by making reference to your own experiences and recent or past events.
If time permits, the structure-review sections can be completed in small groups or in a one-to-one format, allowing your students to communicate with each other on a more personal basis. You will notice that these activities are based on the vocabulary and ideas of the main theme. If time is limited, these review sections could be handed in as written assignments, but we strongly recommend that the overall grade in this ''conversation'' class be based on the oral performances of the ''directores'' and ''secretarios''. By the end of the term, each student should have had several chances to lead a topic of discussion or give an oral report to the class on the particulars of the group discussion.
We have found that, in our experience, at least twenty minutes should be set aside for the small-group discussion. By simple observation, you should be able to decide if more time is needed.
For variety, more formal debates could be organized for some of the topics. Review sound debate strategies with the class in Spanish and make appropriate suggestions for success. Possibly you could recommend colleagues as reference sources who could help the debaters in their preparation.
The vocabulary sections are meant to help your students break away from translating and thinking in English. We hope that you can find time to do them very quickly, either before or right after the small-group discussions.
You will notice that in this edition we have included some lighter themes, called Interludios, which can be welcomed respites from the more serious main themes.
A logical final exam could be a conversation with each student in which he/she could talk about the theme that interested him/her most or a discussion of one of the themes that could not be covered during the term. If the class is too large for such a personal-type exam, perhaps an essay could serve this purpose as a last resort.
To the Student
The objective of this book and class is to give you a chance to improve your fluency and conversational skills in the Spanish language. Improvement in fluency comes with practice, which in this case demands oral preparation. We encourage you to read the essays aloud and, if possible, tape your practice so that you can hear how you sound. By the end of the term, you should be able to hear an improvement in your pronunciation. It should be clearer and faster; in other words, more native-like.
Try to relate the opinions expressed in the ''Opiniones de la gente de la cane'' section to your own opinions or those of your family and friends. Analyze the opinions expressed and decide with which one you most agree. In your group discussions, don't hesitate to make reference to the opinions in the ''Opiniones de la gente de la cane'' section.
The structure-review sections can be helpful to you in developing your opinions about the theme. You should do them as part of your preparation for the group discussions. You can consider the discussions as a form of debate. Think of the strong points of your argument and anticipate the response of the other side. Back up your opinions with facts or a relevant anecdotal reference. Listen and react to the opinions of your classmates and try to refute them, if you are not in agreement, or support them with your own observations.
Each class should be an opportunity for you to contribute and improve your use of the language. Avoid thinking in English at all and try to express yourself in simple but clear terms. If you don't agree with an individual, say so in a polite and respectful way. Make friends and have fun in the discussion. You may alienate the group by trying too hard to win the argument. To make the discussion more interesting, you could bring up your own experiences, whether real or imagined.
If you are chosen to actually debate a certain topic, prepare your arguments point by point in Spanish. Win over your audience with your understanding, compassion, preparation, and a sense of humor.
We would like to thank the many reviewers who offered suggestions and critical evaluations of the fourth edition of Conversación y controversia. Among the many colleagues who responded to our revision plan, we gratefully acknowledge Asela de Laguna, Rutgers University, Mara-Lee Bierman, Rockland Community College, Susana Rivera Mills, Northern Arizona University, Patricia Rubio, Skidmore College, John B. Margenot, Providence College, and all those who helped us with each one of the previous editions.
Nino R. Iorillo
Andrés C. Díaz
Dennis L. Hale
1. El científico y el artista.
2. El año 2100.
3. El matrimonio.
4. La popularidad: hombres y mujeres.
5. Interludio: el perro y el gato.
6. El ser supremo.
7. Pasado, presente y futuro.
8. El aborto.
9. La eutanasia.
10. Interludio: el madrugador y el dormilón.
11. La salud y la medicina.
12. La censura.
13. El suicidio.
14. Las armas de fuego.
15. Interludio: los climas.
16. La pena capital...muerte.
17. La herencia y el medio ambiente.
18. El narcotràfico.
19. Fumar o no fumar.
20. Interludio: ¿carnívoro o vegetariano?
21. Actitud ciudadana.
22. Explorando el espacio.
23. La educación.
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