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TV and radio

Robin Buss's pick of the week

BBC2 Friday, October 15, 11.40am-12noon.

A tour of Cairo with presenter Amani Zain provides the opportunity to hear and see a few simple Arabic words and to explore some facets of Egyptian life. We go to the pyramids, the market, and the mosque and University of al-Azhar, learning a little about Cairo's past and the religion of Islam. We also meet Danny, an 11-year-old with a passion for football.

Not a language course, but a taster for nine to 11-year-olds which will fit into geography as well as modern languages.


BBC2 Thursday, October 14, 2-4am

"How would your students' favourite soap characters talk and behave if they were French?" asks the BBC publicity material for this series. I know at least one 16-year-old viewer for whom Clementine is far from a favourite character: she found the French teenager extremely irritating, with her winsome ways and her habit of talking directly to camera, but that is always a danger with this kind of material: the fetching manner that captures the heart of one student will grate like fingernails on a blackboard for another.

In the end, you have to keep your mind on the goal, which is to learn French (and the 16-year-old in question got an A, so perhaps Clementine was some help after all).

Tate Modern

C4 Monday-Friday, October 14-November 12, 11.05-11.10am

Short films about topics in modern art, looking at one or two works in the Tate's collection. The programmes start from features such as distortion and abstraction to explain why artists have adopted particular strategies, as well as considering genres such as still life or self portrait.

The scope ranges from classics of 20th-century European painting to modern British conceptual, and the series as a whole is an excellent introduction to looking at art. It continues from November 2 to December 1 on a revised schedule.

Time to Move: Colours in Turn

Radio 4 Wednesdays, October 13-November 3, 3.35-3.55am

A three-part unit in the dance, performance and creative movement slot for six to eight-year-olds takes its inspiration from the changing colours of autumn. The programmes are also available on BBC school radio tapes from BBC Children's Learning Customer Services (0870 830 8000).

The Seven Wonders of Ancient Rome

Discovery Channel Sunday, October 10, 8-9pm

The seven wonders are the Pantheon, the Roman aqueducts, the Via Appia, the Baths of Caracalla, Trajan's Markets, the Circus Maximus and the Colosseum - all of them, as it happens, also wonders of modern Rome, though some are looking a bit the worse for wear.

There is material here for classical studies, history and (at a pinch) geography.

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