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The Evening Class;Mind and body;Holiday spanish

Imagine you're in Madrid staying with friends and they want you to do some shopping". Tutor Belen Dynes hands out a grocery list. It's in Spanish, of course. Would you know where to find a pollo? Or how about dos kilos de patates? Or even media docena de huevos?

Every year thousands of us descend on Spanish-speaking countries armed with little more than an elaborate arm-waving routine. This 10-week course provides an intensive grounding in Spanish, and by the end of it students should be able to negotiate their way to the tapas bar and exchange pleasantries with the waiter.

But first of all, they have to find out which groceries come from which shop. Of course, they could just visit el supermercado, but that rather spoils it. So for cuatro rollos de papel higienico, it's off to the droguer!a - although in reality holiday-makers are more likely to be searching out liquid refreshments than loo paper.

Belen runs through numbers and how to pronounce them, handing out copies of 1,000 and 5,000 peseta notes (she seems keen on shopping skills). She asks her students to think up as many types of shop as they can: butcher, baker... One student looks up candlestick maker in an electronic translator. All are beginners. "It's a bit intensive," Belen admits, "but they take to it very well."

Des Whetter has bought a flat on the Costa Blanca and aims to while away the winter months of his retirement there playing golf. "I'm not very good at languages," he confesses, "but the course is very good. I've enjoyed it."

Carol Ashton has come on the course with her daughter, Kelly. They have already put their lessons into practice on a week's holiday in Spain. "When you go away, it's nice to know what people are saying," she says. "They all know English and you feel so lazy. But I was able to understand the menu and ask for my drinks in Spanish, and they did appreciate it."

This course took place at Gloucester College of Arts and Technology, Christchurch Centre, GloucesterRoad, Cheltenham GL5l 8PBTel: 01242 532198

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