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Meet Coffee Break French learner, Asim

Originally from Dumfries in the South West of Scotland, Asim, 36, has been living in London since 2003 working as a specialist pharmacist. He has been learning French for the past 2-3 years, for professional and personal reasons. With a large number of his patients coming from the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, Asim felt that learning French would be worthwhile as it would allow him to communicate with his patients more easily. Moreover, as a keen skier, Asim dreams of moving to the French Alps to start a career building ski chalets. Naturally, learning French is the first step towards achieving his goal. We recently had a chat with Asim to hear more about his experience of learning with Coffee Break.

Prior to learning French with Coffee Break, Asim attended evening classes in London. However, he found that he wasn’t making as much progress as he had originally hoped. This is when he discovered Coffee Break. “I found that a lot of it was dictated to you rather than having the chance to speak and there wasn’t much in the way of listening skills. Then I looked for podcasts so that I could improve my listening skills and CBF stood out. In fact, I think it was virtually the only thing that was there that was pretty much on my level. I’d been using apps and things and I still use apps on top, but none of them do anything for my listening skills.” 

After working through seasons 1-3 of Coffee Break French, Asim is now keen to join the Masterclass in order to help him progress to season 4. Asim is lucky enough to practise his language skills with his French friends and flatmate. “I’ve got loads of French friends as a result of learning French. Actually, all my friends are being taken over by French people, much to the annoyance of my other friends. I’m spending a lot of time learning French and surrounding myself in French culture and French language.”

Speaking of the two week intensive French course he attended in Montpellier in the South of France, Asim believes he gained a great deal not only in the way of language skills, but also in terms of the friends he made. “I absolutely loved it, loved the place, loved the people I met. I became good friends with the people. We would see each other all the time. In those two weeks we covered the equivalent of one year at my evening classes in London.”

One of Asim’s favourite aspects of Coffee Break lessons are how convenient they are for learning on the go. “The podcasts are good as I can do them on the tube, on the underground. There’s no wifi apart from in-between stations so it’s quite good to be able to do that offline.” Alongside listening to Coffee Break during his commute to work, Asim incorporates learning French into other aspects of his life: “Sometimes I do language exchange evenings because there are loads of them in London…(and)….“like I said I organise my holidays based on learning French, for example I went (on a trip) to Mauritius”.

Asim also enjoys listening to the interactions Mark has on the podcasts throughout all four seasons. As a fellow Scot, he particularly enjoys listening to the Scottish accents, especially the banter between Mark and Pierre-Benoît. Overall, Asim appreciates the fact that he can learn alongside another language learner when listening to the podcasts. He adds: “It’s quite touchy feely I guess rather than some of the other stuff that you get out there, it makes you feel rather comfortable.”

Asim dedicates as much time as possible to learning French: “I would do CBF for about an hour a day, five days a week, and then the other hour I would do something else.” To compliment the Coffee Break lessons, he uses a variety of apps which enable him to communicate with French natives, building his vocabulary. On top of this, Asim often listens to the French radio to improve his listening skills.

Speaking of challenges, Asim acknowledges that, while he finds grammar quite straightforward, he struggles with listening and lack of confidence when speaking French: “My biggest problem is listening comprehension. I can speak, but when someone speaks back to me, I’m lost.” His main focus now is to concentrate on his listening skills with Coffee Break. He also has a private tutor which he finds useful: “I’ve got a personal/private tutor as well who I meet up with once a week in the pub for an hour and have a pint and a French lesson, well colloquial French I guess, the common French you can speak rather than textbook French so that’s quite good. I (also) go skiing every year and I make sure it’s in France so I can utilise my French and practise there. I’m gearing up to move to France so that’s why I’m doing all this.” 

When asked if he had a favourite word or phrase in French, Asim mentioned a phrase that his flatmate had taught him: il n’y a pas de quoi which simply means ‘don’t mention it’ in English.

To finish, Asim sums up his thoughts on the Coffee Break style of learning French: “One of my preferred ways (to learn French) is to use Coffee Break French because it’s quite nicely broken down, it’s bitesize I guess and it perfectly ties in with my commute to work. It’s not too intense but at the same time it can be quite tricky.”

We wish Asim all the best for the future and hope that he manages to fulfil his dream of moving to France.

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