The Sunday Feature on Radio 3, on the third Sunday in each month, is contributed by writer and broadcast Julian Evans, under the title The Romantic Road.
Teachers will find this ambitious series of great general interest and may also want to use it selectively with older children, for example in sixth-form English or modern language classes. In 10 45-minute programmes, Evans embarks on what he describes as "a journey, backwards and forward . . . on the road of European literature", in the belief that "the novels that have been written, the stories we tell each other and the connections between us as Europeans will go on uniting us culturally and spiritually far more than our different European languages divide us".
The series can therefore be especially recommended for Eurosceptics and anyone else who thinks there is an unbridgeable gulf between "Us" and "The Continent".
Evans started, on April 16, in Spain, with Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote; a fine starting point indeed, at the roots of European fiction. England was the first country to translate Cervantes' novel from Spanish (in 1612, seven years after it was published). Retranslated in the following century by Smollett, it became a key work in the development of the English comic novel, as exemplified by Smollett himself, Fielding and Dickens - "Pickwick is pure Cervantes", one Spanish contributor to the programme tells us.
Evans visits some places connected with Cervantes and talks to modern Spanish writers about their work, about the enduring appeal of Don Quixote and about other European cultures, in the first of what promise to be entertaining and, at the same time, intellectually demanding excursions.
The Romantic Road
Started April 16, next broadcast on May 21, 5.45-6.30pm SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT
Desined for secondary students aged between 14 and 16, the eight programmes in the series Voces espa$olas feature young people in Spain, and also in Guatemala and the former Spanish Sahara, talking about their daily lives and the very different environments in which they live.
Each programme starts in a London classroom where pupils are formulating questions to ask their Spanish-speaking counterparts in the three countries: "Who are you?", "What is your country like?", "What is your school like?" The answers come in authentic language, at natural speed, but - given the clear context set up by the questions - are relatively easy to follow; most learners should at least catch the drift of the answers.
All in all, the programmes provide excellent material for listening comprehension and lots of information about Spanish-speaking countries and their cultures. They can also be used as the basis for classroom discussion, first by getting pupils to answer the questions themselves, then developing their answers for a variety of oral and even written work. AMuy bien!
May 2, 2-4am
Music Box, supported by The TES, is the first element in the BBC primary music course (which continues with Song Time, Time and Tune and Music Workshop). Designed for pre-school and primary reception level children, it starts this term with "The Three Bears", who have a jolly song that goes:
"Hello! Hello! Hello!" Most listeners will guess who their surprise visitor was and will want to join in with the song about what happened when Goldilocks went to the bears' house. "The Three Little Pigs" and "The Three Billygoats Gruff" follow in weeks to come, then we have the story of a picnic and after that, songs about summer. Likely to get its target audience banging the table and singing.