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A decade ago, satellite television made it possible to watch European programmes in the UK. Now, a system from Centerprise combines satellite television with a digital video recorder that saves programmes on to a hard drive (from pound;10,000). This means European television can be easily replayed, paused and re-worked.

Another time-saving tool that takes the sting out of lesson preparation is TaskMaster (from pound;79), a great-value authoring package that works in any language. Teachers can create up to 29 interactive exercises and games based on text, pictures or sound, by keying in their own language content.

And there is a "free-for-home-use" version that creates lots of possibilities for homework exercises.

With up-to-date video footage and a wide range of interactive activities, Espresso's broadband resources in French continue to expand. There are three key topic areas aimed at children in Year 7 to Year 9: everyday life, making journeys and around the world, which cover a further 16 sub-topics.

Within each, students can view several video sequences. These are reviewed monthly and archived. Weblinks posted on the homework site help students explore subjects further. Annual subscriptions from pound;3 per pupil.

VL Systems' (formerly Vektor) Online School offers a tutor-led system of exercises in French, German, Italian and Spanish for pound;1 per pupil per language per year. The content ranges from beginners to advanced and exercises are fully interactive. The online management system includes authoring tools so tutors can add their own materials and a complete student scoring and recording package.

4 Learning's new TV Rom technology brings the channel's popular key stage 4 teenage soap Extra (in French, German and Spanish) to the computer screen.

This enables pupils to see episodes again, role play with characters and make varied use of English and foreign language subtitles. A 10-user licence costs pound;23.50.

The newly updated Softease Language Packs (from pound;39) let primary pupils developing early writing skills create their own documents in French or German. The packs have built-in spell-check and auto-accent options, so accents are added as the pupil writes.

The big publishers have concentrated on developing their website magazines this year. The i-c@fe subscription website from Oxford University Press, for example, produces six editions per year in French, German and Spanish, that aim to put the buzz back into independent reading (pound;100 a year for one language).

Nelson Thornes' i-catcher is a monthly online video magazine for more able students at GCSE and Standard Grade levels, while NewsTicker provides a daily updated news service in French, German and Spanish for post-16s (pound;90 for 501 to 1,000 pupils).

Metro lectro by Heinemann is claimed to provide exciting and easy-to-use electronic French resources for 11 to 14-year-olds. The Teacher Presentation Package (pound;495) uses video and animation that can be displayed via a white board or data projector.

The Vocabulary Visuals CD-Rom (pound;39) from Oxford University Press, which includes 350 images and sound files, gives flashcard vocabulary presentation a new slant.

For ideas and practical hints, Nelson Thornes' Cut, Paste and Surf book and CD-Rom (pound;90 for a 501 to 1,000-pupil licence) in French is soon to be joined by German and Spanish versions.

For children with additional needs, Crick Software's Clicker programs ClozePro and Wordbar (from pound;90) can be enhanced by Digalo Speech Engines in six languages, including Russian and Italian.

Widget Software uses images to convey grammar and structure. Add-ons for French, German and Spanish to the Widget Writing with Symbols 2000 package cost pound;160.

Authentik has expanded into digital resources in the three key languages at GCSE (pound;170) and AAS (pound;235) levels, including audio exercises at GCSE. Teachers familiar with Authentik written materials will love the student monitoring programme included in these Resource Banks. Pupils can also access Authentik from home.

Eurotalk will be showing the Talk Now (pound;24.99 each) and World Talk (pound;29.99) series of CD-Roms, available in 90 languages.

Last but by no means least is Houlala from Linguascope, a fun CD-Rom (from pound;25) for young beginners. It's devised with the needs of the non-specialist primary teacher in mind.

If you only look at three things...

Centerprise International Stand F20 Satellite TVSolutions Tel: 01256 378 000 www.centerprise.co.uk

Mdlsoft (TaskMaster) SW82 Tel: 01430 873 496 www.mdlsoft.co.uk

VL Systems (Vektor) Online L50 School Tel: 0161 828 3000 www.vl-systems.com

Other contactsI 4Learning D42 Tel: 08701 246 444 www.channel4.comlearning Authentik

Tel: 00 353 1 677 1512 www.authentik.com

Crick Software SN14 Tel: 0845 121 1691 www.cricksoft.com

Espresso B82 Tel: 020 8237 1200 www.espresso.co.uk

Eurotalk M50 Tel: 020 7371 7711 www.eurotalk.com

Heinemann PZ35, Y10 Tel: 01865 888 080 www.heinemann.co.uk

Houlala SW141 Tel: 01206 515359 www.linguascope.com

Nelson Thornes PZ32, W18 Tel: 01242 267 274 www.nelsonthornes.com

Oxford University Press B60 Tel: 01536 741 068 www.oup.com

Softease C56 Tel: 01335 343 421 www.softease.com

Widget Software SN10 Tel: 01223 425558 www.widgit.com

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