TV and radio

Robin Buss's pick of the week

Weather, Place and People BBC2 Fridays, January 27-February 3, 10.30-11.10pm

This primary geography series looks at four contrasting climates in southern Spain, Grenada, Death Valley and Lapland. The aim is to show how the conditions in different locations at different times of year affect the inhabitants.

The programmes link with Writing Across the Curriculum, to be shown on February 10, which uses the information to develop skills in factual writing. Getting the most out of the series will require preparation, helped by the teachers' notes on the website:

RevistaVoces Espanolas

BBC2 Wednesday, January 25, 2-6am

There has been concern recently because of the decline in the number of pupils studying a foreign language. This week, the Learning Zone on BBC2 gives encouragement to those studying Spanish, French and German in series that, in the first two cases, remind us that these are also world languages.

Revista, for 11 to 14-year-olds, gives an impression of life for young Spanish speakers in Spain and Latin America, with interviews, music and competitions. Voces Espanolas is a similar series for 14 to 16-year-olds, filmed in Spain, Western Sahara and Guatemala.

These are followed on Thursday night by two series for learners of French: Jeunes Francophones, also for 14 to 16-year-olds, hears French spoken in Quebec and Senegal, as well as in Metropolitan France, while France 2000 offers A-level students an introduction to three contrasting areas of France itself: Paris, the Massif Central and Brittany. Finally, early on Friday, you can catch D-Mag, Deutsch Plus and Hallo aus Berlin (the last for younger learners of German). Who can explain the paradox that, while the materials for learning languages are improving all the time, the number of students taking these subjects is declining? C'est tout de meme dommage... Starship Maths BBC2 Mondays, January 23 and 30, 10.40-11.20am

The aim of Starship Maths is to introduce six and seven-year-olds to concepts such as number and measurement, and to prepare them for the key stage 1 national tests. There are four parts: the first two look at place value and calculations, including rounding up and down, addition, the equals sign and other mysteries; the last two parts introduce the use of bar charts and graphs to represent information and ways of describing shapes. The website has various games - including Number Jumbler, Park the Pod, Calamity's Quest and Alien Cookbook - to practise these skills. It's all part of a devilish conspiracy to make children believe that maths can be fun.

School Plays BBC Radio 4 Fridays, January 20-March 24, 3-3.20am

This series of dramas for listening, aimed at 9 to 11-year-olds, started last week with Alan Wightman's "Heroes and Villains", which should still be available online; the whole series is also available on cassette (pound;4) or CD (pound;4.50) from BBC Schools' Broadcast Recordings, PO Box 7, Wetherby LS23 7EP. Today's play is Mellie Buse's The 3D Dabbler and this is followed next week by Bethan Gwanas' Baked Beans and Salad Cream. The stories are designed to stimulate work in writing, speaking and drama, and can be used in groups or individually.

Full listings can be found at:


* www.channel4.comlearningmainprogrammestv_schedule.htm

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