What it's all about
Heroes and heroines is a great subject for language lessons because it involves strong characters and exciting stories, writes Catherine Paver.
Introduce children to the major heroes and heroines of European literature. Give them a taste of the great writers who immortalised them, so pupils grow up unafraid of big names such as Cervantes.
You could start with The Three Musketeers. Show them the exciting trailer in French for the 2011 film starring Matthew Macfadyen. Give them key words and phrases. The first line describes why we need heroes: "Il y a des choses dans ce monde qui meritent qu'on se batte pour elles". What is worth fighting for? Does fighting always mean killing?
The word "hero" comes from the Greek heros, which means "demi-god". Superhuman in strength, courage and often intelligence, the hero is a protector who will sacrifice himself to save others if he has to.
What if you want to be a knight in shining armour in today's world? This is the dilemma of Cervantes' hero, Don Quixote. Long after the age of chivalry has passed, Don Quixote decides that a knight is just what the world needs.
Show the class a film clip in which this most famous of deluded optimists rides bravely up to the molinos de viento (windmills). He fights them with his sword, believing them to be desaforados gigantes (monstrous giants).
Explore CatherinePaver's resources on Don Quixote and Les Trois Mousquetaires. bit.lyPaversDonQuixote. bit.lyPaversDumas. Check out Emmamartinez1507 's resource pack on Spain, which discusses Don Quixote. bit.lyPackOnSpain.