Many teachers of Spanish will remember the pleasure of using the BBC's Telejournal in Spanish several years ago. It was our first opportunity to use topical television images in A-level classes and many teachers used the BBC sheets with a sense of entering a new era. More recently schools acquired their own satellite-receiving equipment, and we subsequently learned how it became necessary to spend hours preparing our own materials.
The sense of disillusion may be dispelled by this multimedia package for advanced learners, containing a 50-minute video, an 80-page activity book and a CD-Rom.
The video consists of 16 news extracts from Spanish television, covering a wide range of A-level syllabus topics. The extracts can be viewed in any order. Each starts with a brief explanation of the context, during which some key vocabulary is shown in the form of subtitles.
A symbol identifying the extract is continually shown in the top right corner of the screen, enabling the teacher to locate each extract easily. Students experience a pleasing variety of faces, age-groups and voices. The choice of material is sound. Naturally some of the extracts will date, but overall there is plenty that will be suitable for several years.
The activity book contains tasks based on the video items, reading texts from Spanish newspapers which complement the video extracts and further tasks on these. Students are encouraged to anticipate the language and topic content of the video extracts by Antes de empezar tasks, while subsequent exercises use visuals from the video and then increase in difficulty.
The tasks on the reading texts have questions based on a Lectura r pida and a Lectura atenta. There is a variety of exercise types, most of which are now used by A-level examination boards. Apart from the final section (answers and full transcripts) and the introductory "note to the reader" everything is in Spanish.
The CD-Rom is fully interactive and designed to complement the video and workbook materials while promoting independent learning. The exercises are generally the same as those in the book, but its great advantage is allowing the student to watch the video extracts ad lib and receive many other methods of support (for example, using the glossary or pulling down the transcript).
Students have the opportunity to save the work on a file, record their own voices and, of course, to check their answers.
Considerable expertise and effort have gone into this resource and little remains for the teacher to do except decide on the best method of presentation.
It is probably most suitable for those in the second year of A-level study, and is likely to be a major component in most Spanish schemes of work.
The resource is complete without the CD-Rom, but few teachers would regret buying it.
Peter Bull is Head of Spanish at William Hulme's Grammar School, Manchester