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CBC 1.25 | Dealing with emergencies in Chinese

In this episode you’ll learn to deal with emergencies in Chinese. Needless to say, we hope you never have to use this language, but it’s useful to know nonetheless! You’ll learn to talk about losing wallets, reporting stolen passports and asking for help in various situations. You’ll be ready for all eventualities by the time you’ve listened to this episode!

CBI 2.26 | Preferisci andare in palestra o a teatro?

This is the first of our two-part preposition marathon! In this episode you’ll learn all you need to know about the prepositions a, in and su. Using prepositions in Italian can be quite tricky, particularly because they don’t work the same way as in English. There’s also the fact that, when combined with the definite articles, the prepositions take on different forms. Through this lesson about (su) prepositions, you’ll learn to (a) use the prepositions in (in) the correct way!

Listen to the episode

The audio lesson is free, as are all the main audio lessons of Coffee Break Italian. Use the audio player above to listen to the lesson, or subscribe in iTunes to receive this lesson and all future lessons automatically. If you can’t see the player above, click here to access the lesson.

Meet the team: Marina

Marina photo¡Hola! My name is Marina and I started working with Radio Lingua in March 2015 while I was working in Glasgow as a Language Assistant. I first studied Spanish Philology at university and then went on to do a Masters in Secondary Education. After that, I did another Masters in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. I have been working as an English teacher in Spain for a long time and I have also taught Spanish abroad. Currently, I work as a Coordinator in an English Academy and I also teach Spanish as a foreign language in private classes.

What is your role in Coffee Break?

My main role is to create content for our Spanish learners and I’m also in charge of giving feedback to the Coffee Break community on Facebook, in order to help learners make the most of their Spanish learning experience.

I come up with the Facebook posts for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays each week, and provide feedback to people who comment on the posts. I’m also very heavily involved in the Coffee Break Spanish Masterclass. I work with Mark to create content, record audio and give feedback to members of the Masterclass, correcting homework activities and generally helping the community where I can. I really liked filming Coffee Break Spanish To Go in the sun in Spain, near where I live. More recently, I have written articles for use in the Reading Club, and produced Spanish transcripts for the upcoming En Marcha series. I also enjoy occasionally writing articles in Spanish for the CBS newsletter too. It’s quite a lot when I think about it!

What experience have you had speaking and learning other languages?

I have always studied English, since I was in nursery. I had a Puerto Rican English teacher who made me love the language when I could barely speak my mother tongue. Later on, I went to a British School in Córdoba, where I also studied French, both at school and in extra-curricular lessons. I took part in exchanges to Manchester and Mayenne (France) when I was at school. My last experience abroad was living in Glasgow and working in St. Ambrose High School as a Language Assistant. I loved that experience! I’d love to go back and work there, but I come from a warmer climate and cannot live without my beloved sun!

Marina on her travels in Scotland

I also spent a month living in Rome doing a “corso per pizzaiolli” where I learnt how to make authentic Italian pizzas. I can’t speak proper Italian, but I really love the sound of the language and find it quite easy to understand.

 

What are your favourite memories of working with RLN?

I love filming Coffee Break Spanish To Go in Málaga with Mark, interviewing people around the city. It was an intense experience as we had to carry out many interviews in a short period of time, but it’s a super nice memory. I also had a great time recording the audio lessons for the Master Class. I think is always nice to get to see the team again, because normally I work remotely and we communicate via Skype, Slack or email. I’m looking forward to doing some more filming and recording next month in Madrid!

Marina and Mark filming Coffee Break Spanish To Go in Málaga

 

Where would your ideal coffee break be, and with whom?

My ideal coffee break… I guess Brad Pitt is always a good idea! I wouldn’t mind practising my English with Brad or Ewan McGregor. And the place..? A nice “chiringuito” in Hawaii? Why not!?

 

What’s your best language-learning tip?

The first thing I would say is that communication is the most important thing: that’s what really makes you try to give the best of yourself, as your aim is to be understood and to understand what you’re listening to. A language exchange with a native speaker is a fantastic way to learn. This way, you’ll learn not just the language itself, but the culture and idiomatic expressions, which I really love to learn!

For something you can do on your own, I’d recommend finding what you love and try to learn more about it in your target language. For example, if you like cooking, buy a recipe book in Spanish, watch videos of typical dishes in Spanish and try to cook those yourself. If it’s travelling, decorating, music… whatever! Find blogs, books, films and enjoy your favourite thing in a different language.

Quick-fire round

  • Favourite language – Italian, it sounds special.
  • Favourite word/phrase in the language – A chi vuole, non mancano modi. A strong message that makes me feel unstoppable. (For those who want, there are no shortage of ways).
  • Favourite film – El rey león (The Lion King)
  • Favourite book – Como agua para chocolate or La casa de los espíritus. I love Latin American Literature, especially Magic realism.
  • Favourite singer – Jack Johnson
  • Favourite destination  I love travelling and it’s difficult to choose just one place but my favourite I’d say is Cádiz, in the South of Spain. Not just for the stunning landscapes but also the people, the food, the weather, the customs and, for me, above all, the memories. It is the place I used to go on holiday with my family, and every time I’m back there I feel butterflies in my stomach. I know it sounds too romantic, but it’s absolutely true!

 

Do you have a message for the Coffee Break Community?

Keep learning, always! Languages teach you so much. They help you to open your mind. It’s something that will always help you improve as a person. It’s good for you if you’re trying to improve your CV and open doors professionally, but that’s not the only reason to learn a language. For example, my mother, who is now retired, studies English and Italian and it makes her feel great. Really, it’s never too late to learn, to study, and to keep growing!

CBF-ER 1.07 | Nissa La Bella

Our destination for episode 7 of En Route avec Coffee Break French is “Nice the beautiful”, as the city is referred to in the unofficial anthem which is in the local dialect, Niçard. In this episode Mark visits Nice, takes a ride on a vélotaxi and has a Coffee Break with a friend from Scotland who now lives and works in the area.

Listen to the lesson

The audio lesson is free, as are all the main audio lessons of En Route avec Coffee Break French. Use the audio player above to listen to the lesson, or subscribe in Apple Podcasts to receive this lesson and all future lessons automatically. If you can’t see the player above, click here to access the lesson.

Accessing the Premium Version

thumb-cbf-enroute-season1
In the full course of En Route you’ll get access to every episode as it’s released. The premium version includes additional materials which will help you move forward more effectively with your French studies:

  • transcripts: read every word of French included in the conversations;
  • vocabulary lists: in addition to the transcripts, we’ll provide vocabulary lists to help you understand everything that’s said;
  • bonus audio materials: where an edited version of an interview is included in the main lesson, we’ll provide the full recording in the course to allow you to develop your comprehension skills further;
  • exclusive video content: in addition to recording interviews in the south of France, the Coffee Break Team also filmed some video content and this video material is included in the course. Please note that these are not video versions of the interviews.

The En Route course can be accessed on the Coffee Break Academy.

Subscribe links

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | RSS Feed | Purchase full course

How to say “Cheers” in Irish … and much more!

Here at Coffee Break Languages we want to help share our love of languages with a worldwide community of language learners, and that’s why we’re celebrating St Patrick’s Day by making our course in Irish Gaelic available for free on YouTube. In this course you’ll learn to introduce yourself, make conversation with other Irish speakers, and crucially learn to say “cheers” as you toast your friends on Lá fhéile Pádraig, St Patrick’s Day.

So how do you say “Cheers”?

“Cheers” in Irish is sláinte which is pronounced a bit like “slawn-che”. Sláinte means “health”, and if you’re feeling brave, you can say sláinte is táinte (“slawn-che iss toin-che”), meaning “health and wealth”. “Cheers” is one of the words included in lesson 10 of our course. Also included in lesson 10 is “I love you”, which you may also need this St Patrick’s Day weekend!

What is Irish Gaelic?

Irish Gaelic is spoken by around 75,000 people in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland and it’s also an official language of the European Union. In the Republic of Ireland, Irish enjoys official status and the Irish words for a number of public titles and organisations have been adopted into Irish English, e.g. Garda (police), Dail (parliament), and Taoiseach (Prime Minister).

Irish is a member of the Celtic language group which includes Scots Gaelic, Welsh, Breton, Cornish and Manx. It’s closely related to Scots Gaelic and Manx, and an Irish speaker may understand a fair amount of written Scots Gaelic or Manx, though there is more variation in the spoken language, making it less mutually intelligible.

One important thing: make sure you know how to pronounce the word Gaelic properly: for Irish Gaelic, “Gael-” rhymes with the English word “sail”, while for Scottish Gaelic, “Gael-” rhymes with the English word “shall”!

What’s One Minute Irish?

Our One Minute Languages courses feature ten lessons and cover the absolute basics of the language. You’ll learn basic greetings and useful words, numbers 1-10, asking people “how are you?” and answering the question yourself and you’ll learn to say that you can speak a little Irish. You can access the full 10-lesson course in the video playlist below, or head over to our YouTube channel.

How do you say “Happy St Patrick’s Day” in Irish?

One final thing: since we’re making this course available for free to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, it’s only right that you learn how to say “Happy St Patrick’s Day” in Irish! Here’s a list of useful expressions:

  • Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit! – Happy St Patrick’s Day to you (singular)
  • Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhaoibh! – Happy St Patrick’s Day to you (plural)
  • Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig dhuit! – St Patrick’s Day blessings to you (singular)
  • Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! – St Patrick’s Day blessings to you (plural)
We hope you enjoy learning some Irish with One Minute Languages. There will be more free courses on YouTube soon!

CBI 2.25 | Chi è quella persona che lavora in biblioteca?

In this episode you’ll learn everything you need to know about asking questions in Italian. We’ll cover come, dove, quando, chi, perché, quale, quali, quanto/a/e/i and, of course, che, che cosa and cosa! By the time you’ve completed this lesson you’ll be able to satisfy your curiosity in Italian by asking any question.

Meet the team: Géraldine

My name is Géraldine and I am part of the Coffee Break French crew for Radio Lingua. I have been working with the team since October 2013 when I was living in Glasgow. Initially, I started recording for Coffee Break French Season 4 and since then I’ve had the chance to work on many more projects with Coffee Break French!
For a long time I wanted to learn English to understand the songs on the radio and to hear the real voices (not dubbed ones) of my favourite actors. So, after an HND in Business Studies, I decided to go back to university to study English and Spanish in Applied Modern Languages. It’s only later – after a year in the USA working a teaching assistant – that I discovered a passion for languages. Once back home in Brittany, I combined my love for languages with one for travelling by completing a Masters in French as a Foreign Language. At the age of 25, I left home to work in Australia and, since then, I have flown back and forth to the four corners of the earth to teach my mother tongue. Seven years and 5 countries later, I am now living in Germany where I continue to teach and challenge myself to learn a fourth language.

What is your role in Coffee Break?

I regularly contribute to Facebook posts and give feedback to CBF learners who post their comments on the page. The Masterclass is something in which I am greatly involved. I give feedback to learners as well take part in the live Facebook sessions with Mark. I’ve written many newsletter articles in my time with Radio Lingua so it’s nice to think CBF learners read a little of what I write every month. Together with Mark I help create content for lessons and I love doing recordings in Scotland, on location, or sometimes remotely. As a native French speaker, transcribing episodes is part of my remit too.

Géraldine and Mark introducing the Masterclass

What experience have you had speaking and learning other languages?

I didn’t always love learning languages, but I quickly realised it was a master key to travelling – which I absolutely love doing. So, after a diploma in Business Studies, I decided to start another University program in Applied Modern Languages. Soon after I obtained my degree, I left for the United States to improve my English and become fluent. Nine years later, I’ve had the chance to live in seven different countries and I am learning my fourth language at the moment: German.

What are your favourite memories of working with Coffee Break?

Working with the Coffee Break team is always fun. There are so many different things to do which means I am never bored. However, I particularly enjoyed recording for Coffee Break French Season 4 when I started.

Where would your ideal coffee break be, and with whom?

It would have to be a tea break for me as I don’t drink coffee! I’ll take mine after a long walk outside, in front of a fire with a blanket on my lap and a good book in my hands! 

What’s your best language-learning tip?

Study every day for ten to fifteen minutes! I’ve tried many things myself, but I have never learned faster nor better than by studying a little every day. You don’t even have to do a whole unit of the book or learn something new every day, but forcing your mind to see, hear and pronounce another language every day makes it a lot easier to remember.

I also try talking to myself in another language when I am alone. That way, I don’t feel pressure to pronounce everything correctly. Of course, I make mistakes, but this forces me to improve vocabulary and make sure my grammar is correct. I practise saying sentences I could use with other people, for example, when I am shopping.

Quick-fire round

  • Favourite language: It’s hard to pick only one! English I guess, because it’s the first language I wanted to learn.
  • Favourite word/phrase in the language: Cushion! It’s such a funny word to pronounce for a French person
  • Favourite film / TV show / Book / singer: The Goonies / any books by Robin Hobb
  • Favourite destination: Japan, for its very aesthetic and elegant way of life. New Zealand, for the beauty of its nature. La Bretagne, in France, for its delicious crêpes. Rome, for its history and sun. And Scotland, for its underrated tourist sites.
Géraldine on her travels

Do you have a message for the Coffee Break community?

Whether you are doing it for fun, travel or work, learning a new language is always useful! It opens up so many doors in life, helps crossing borders and making new friends, but above all, it makes people understand aspects of their own language they never thought of before. Although it can be very frustrating too, and seem like an impossible goal to reach, it’s important to remember two things: motivation is the key to success, and you are utterly entitled to make mistakes! So go out there and speak!

CBG 2.25 | Ich habe mich sehr gut entspannt

It’s time to look at reflexive verbs in the past. In this lesson you’ll learn to say what you enjoyed, what you complained about and what you looked forward to, and much more besides! Julia is back with a cultural correspondent segment on an area in Italy where German is spoken, Südtirol.

CBF-ER 1.06 | Les Villes Frontalières

In this episode we’re investigating an interesting aspect of life in this part of France: what it’s like to live and work in a border town. Mark travels north to the town of Breil-sur-Roya, and to do so he has to cross the border between France and Italy a number of times. Through the conversations featured in this extended audio episode you’ll learn about life in les villes frontalières.

Listen to the lesson

The audio lesson is free, as are all the main audio lessons of En Route avec Coffee Break French. Use the audio player above to listen to the lesson, or subscribe in Apple Podcasts to receive this lesson and all future lessons automatically. If you can’t see the player above, click here to access the lesson.

Accessing the Premium Version

thumb-cbf-enroute-season1
In the full course of En Route you’ll get access to every episode as it’s released. The premium version includes additional materials which will help you move forward more effectively with your French studies:

  • transcripts: read every word of French included in the conversations;
  • vocabulary lists: in addition to the transcripts, we’ll provide vocabulary lists to help you understand everything that’s said;
  • bonus audio materials: where an edited version of an interview is included in the main lesson, we’ll provide the full recording in the course to allow you to develop your comprehension skills further;
  • exclusive video content: in addition to recording interviews in the south of France, the Coffee Break Team also filmed some video content and this video material is included in the course. Please note that these are not video versions of the interviews.

The En Route course can be accessed on the Coffee Break Academy.

Subscribe links

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | RSS Feed | Purchase full course

CBI 2.24 | Chi va a Roma perde la poltrona

In this lesson we’re focusing on combining the Perfect and the Imperfect which together allow us to tell stories in the past. You’ll consolidate what you already know about each of the tenses and you’ll recognise certain words and expressions which trigger the Perfect or the Imperfect. Francesca also has some mystery Italian personalities for us to identify in the Caffè Culturale.

10 words to make you fall more in love with Italian

10 Italian words to make you fall more in love with Italian
Let’s face it. Everybody loves the sound of the Italian language. There is a charming “singsongy” aspect to it that is absolutely undeniable. How can we resist its postalveolar affricates, its dental fricatives and, most of all, its sensual “r’s”? That’s why we at Radio Lingua have decided to bring you 10 Italian words that sound great (and are really useful).

1. Dai!

You must be familiar with this one if you’ve overheard Italians talking to each other. It has nothing to do with the verb dare – meaning to give – and it cannot be easily translated. Dai can be used to encourage someone to do or not to do something, much in the same way English speakers say “go on” or “come on”. It can also convey a sense of astonishment, meaning “are you serious?” or “really?”.

It’s an idiom with several possible meanings, which can only be grasped from the context.

Did one of your Italian friends say Non ce la faccio to you? Just reply back with dai! Is someone is doing something to annoy you? Tell them to stop with dai! Did you just hear the latest gossip and you cannot believe it? Express your surprise with dai! 

2. Abbiocco

Have you ever eaten so much that you were unable to move and the only thing you wanted to do was take a nap? If so, then you know what l’abbiocco is. It is the drowsiness you feel after a hearty meal: a feeling with which Italians are rather familiar. There is also a verb to describe this feeling: abbioccarsi.

A translation in English might be “food coma”, but this is a much more dramatic term than abbiocco. The sound of this Italian word, with its double “b’s” and “c’s”, perfectly conveys the idea of being full and sleepy after a Sunday roast or a big bowl of pasta. Italians love this food-induced state and usually use it to relax and take a break from the everyday rush, enjoying the abbiocco as much as they can!

3. Mozzafiato

mozzafiato image

This word comes from mozzare, meaning ‘to cut off’, and fiato, meaning ‘breath’. A view, a piece of art, a show, a journey and even a person can be mozzafiato. It means that something is so strikingly beautiful that it makes us stop breathing, just as the word suggests. Those “z’s” do take your breath away.

It can be translated in English as “breathtaking” or “riveting”. However, the image of cutting off one’s air feels more sudden and extreme than the simple act of “taking”, and somehow, more appropriate for a country like Italy, where “breath-chopping” beauty thrives.

 

4. Invasato

If you are thinking that this word means being stuck in a vase, you’re not quite in the the ballpark. L’invasato is someone who experiences strong feelings, such as uncontrollable emotions or passions – so strong that they take over their minds! This word comes from the Middle Ages, when people believed that demons invaded and possessed the body of certain individuals.

That’s why today, invasato means someone who is being taken over by fear, jealousy and anger, as well as by creativity, enthusiasm and passion.

5. Menefreghismo 

When you hear an Italian say me ne frego, it means that they could not care less about something. From this expression, we get the term menefreghismo which stands for a thoughtless indifference towards what is happening outside of one’s personal space. It is the kind of attitude we usually have during our summer holidays, when enjoying the sun and the heat is our most important priority.

If, on one hand, il menefreghismo could be a good quality, on the other, the term is not always considered to be positive. Sometimes it is used to address the callousness or the selfishness of an uninterested friend. So, be aware of the context if you are called a menefreghista!

6. Crepitio

crepitio image

The rustling of leaves, the crackling of fire, the pattering of rain. There is one word in Italian that can describe these sounds: il crepitio. Try to pronounce this word and repeat it several times. Doesn’t it emulate the burning of logs in the fireplace or the tapping of raindrops on the window?

You can also use the verb crepitare to describe the making of these pleasing and relaxing sounds. It is a very evocative word that, despite its harsh “kr” phoneme, can bring back memories of outdoor naps, cosy nights-in and autumn afternoons.

7. Struggimento 

How would you describe that feeling of yearning and torment that you experience when you argue with your significant other? Italians call it lo struggimento, a combination of gut-churning misery and desire, usually associated with one’s love life. It is not a necessarily negative feeling; many poets – like Dante Alighieri, Petrarch and Giacomo Leopardi – found inspiration in their struggimento.

Repeat this word in your head. Savour the harsh sound of its consonants. Now, can you understand what we are talking about here?

8. Boh! 

It is an extremely short word and you may not even notice it in a conversation, but it is a key expression of current Italian. Boh means “who knows?” or simply “I don’t know” and it is always accompanied by a dramatic shrug of the shoulders and a furrowed brow. A non-native speaker should pay attention to the context, where boh! appears, though it’s quite easy to deduce its meaning, since it usually appears in response to something.

Boh is an onomatopoeic expression that conveys doubt, indifference or unwillingness to talk about something. Similar expressions are bah and mah, both of which convey an idea of uncertainty.

Is that clear enough? Don’t answer boh! (or maybe do…)

9. Sfizio

sfizio image

If you are a big shopper, you may know what we are talking about here. Do you know when you feel the urge to buy something you shouldn’t buy, but you buy it anyway? That’s what Italians call uno sfizio, meaning a whim or fancy. Having gelato after dinner or bagging that pizza-shaped hat are actions that Italians would describe as togliersi lo sfizio, meaning “to satisfy one’s whim”. But, it’s not simply that! There is always a fun side to it, something between being ashamed and feeling right about it, enjoying it.

Sfizio: the tongue sizzles and fizzles. It sounds great and it’s fun!

10. Procione 

This may not be the most useful word, but it feels great on your tongue. It is a wonderful combination of the harsh “pr” sound and the sweet “tʃ” phoneme. Also, the fact that procione is the name of a very cute animal made us include this word in our list.

We’re talking about a nocturnal animal, best known in North America, that is usually portrayed in movies and TV series as stealing food from a wheelie-bin. Can you guess it? It’s a racoon. Although this mammal is not very common in Italy, its name sounds incredibly cute in Italian.

There is also another name for the racoon in Italian: l’orsetto lavatore (the washing little bear). How cute is that?

 

We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading our article about the Italian language. Learning a language is a challenge, but it can be an enjoyable challenge. Try to find the words that please your ears and repeat them; they will help you improve your pronunciation. Languages are meant to be spoken, so remember to savour their sounds!
Do you have any favourite words or expressions or idioms in Italian? Let us know in the comments below!