10th March 2000 at 00:00
AVENTURAS VASCAS. Channel 4 Schools. The Spanish Programme. Thursdays 11.40 am - 12 pm March 2 - 30. Repeated 11.40 am to 12 pm November 1 - 29.

This series of five 20-minute programmes set in Bilbao should add an interesting dimension to Spanish classes for students with one or two years' study of the language behind them. The story line follows the experiences of two personable English sixth-formers on their study trip to Spain. Richard and Sophie have definite street credibility in their banter, dress and body language. Richard is particularly recognisable as the somewhat gauche but amiable young lad who makes many gaffes in the language, often misunderstands, yet picks himself up, perseveres and progresses.

The spectator's attention is held by the cliff-hanger technique of the telenovela. We know that Richard's Spanish pen-friend is suspiciouslyhostile, so something nasty must be afoot! We are treated to some gorgeous shots of the Guggnheim museum in Bilbao and to some great seascapes.

There is an interesting and amusing "boy meets girl" angle with Richard practising his chat up lines in Spanish. Football is featured and Sophie discovers how one of her ancestors helped to found Atletico de Bilbao football club.

We also have an insight into the world of the traditional Basque game of pelota. No opportunity is missed for us to explore Basque culture with the local fiesta - an ideal occasion for sampling the folkculture with music and dance.

The programmes are well researched and designed and the dialogue is at an appropriate level with all the vital ingredients of romance and danger likely to appeal to 14 to 17- year-olds. Net notes will be on line for the first broadcast including activities, grammar, transcripts, background information and national curriculum mapping.

Mary O'Sullivan is a senior lecturer in Spanish at the University of Hertfordshire

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