I find that by the beginning of 8th grader year, my students can ask simple questions and give simple answers. Wanting to push them to expand those answer with reasoning and details I thought I'd try a debate. In level I, debates can seem like a daunting task for students. However, they have mastered verbs like QUERER, TENER, PREFERIR, NECESITO, and IR, so why not?!
Students started off with partners, discussing their preference on living in a city versus living in a small town. Once they had given reasons with their first partner, we swaped and they had a chance to practice that language again with a second. Preferences and reasons in mind, they then met with like minded peers and luckily the classes split almost evenly! Each group then shared their thoughts with each other, solidifying reasons and deciding which statements to share with the opposite minded group.
As we began I was impressed with the variety of reasons and their ability to speak expand. One student, for example said "Yo prefiero el pueblo porque no necesito un coche." To which one of the city students said, "¿Qué? Necesitas un coche en el pueblo, pero en la ciudad puedes andar."
We're working on using porque, pero, también and other transitional words to create longer strings of sentences and expland their thoughts in interpersonal conversations.