Working for a multinational software company in Colombia, Daniel is required to speak a number of languages on a regular basis. His language learning journey started at a young age: “When I was younger I went to a bilingual school here in Colombia and afterwards my father moved to Brazil so then I learned Portuguese over there, then I noticed that I was actually good at learning languages and I enjoyed doing so. Thats when I got started with learning languages.” He now speaks an impressive 8 languages (Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and English).
While he constantly strives to improve all of the languages he speaks, he is currently focusing on Chinese using Coffee Break. Daniel has also been using Coffee Break to keep on top of his other languages: “Through Coffee Break, I began with French in the beginning. Although I had some notions of French, I improved them (I hope) through the podcasts.Then I went to the Italian podcasts and German as well, and now the Chinese podcasts.”
The traditional ‘textbook’ style of learning does not appeal to Daniel due to his busy lifestyle. He particularly enjoys the fact that he can listen to Coffee Break as and when it suits him: “I love it because I don’t have much time to read and do exercise and so on, so the podcasts are great for that and (they) help a lot for improving listening skills. It’s easy for me to fit into my routine while I’m walking or exercising. I get to listen to the podcasts and learn new things, that’s good. As I have used the podcasts to learn several languages now, I’m quite familiar with the structured method so to speak. I feel comfortable with it.”
Daniel tends to listen to the audio first, without any other materials, and then listens again with the notes and the video lessons when he has time. He stresses the importance of using the lesson notes alongside the audio, particularly when learning Chinese: “Especially with Chinese I think the written part is very important to grasp the language itself. With the others (languages), I think you can manage just through listening and maybe speaking. In previous podcasts, especially with French I remember there were hints given as to how things were written out. With Chinese it’s a lot harder so I do use the premium material. I think that the podcast itself, on it’s own, it’s a challenge.”
Daniel has a particular method which he used to learn all of the languages he speaks: “All of the languages that I speak or that I know, I learned just through using them. They might not be perfect, but as I said I don’t really enjoy or have time to use textbooks. And I think it’s better that way, just getting used to the language and speaking and just throwing yourself our there.”
Fortunately, Daniel’s job has enabled him to learn languages this way as he has regular contact with a variety of different nationalities: “I try to compliment the podcast learning through speaking to native people in my company – it’s multinational so I do have several colleagues in several countries that speak the languages that I speak so I get to practise with them.”
The aspect of language learning that Daniel finds the most challenging is writing and speaking: “With languages like Chinese, you have nothing to relate it to so I think that the written part is very important. Also, you don’t necessarily exercise your speaking skills. You might listen very well and understand everything that’s being said at one time and eventually you can read as well, but the speaking part is a challenge. In Chinese with the tones and so on, it’s tough. What’s easy for me is once I identify the patterns in the language I think I find it easier to build up from there.”
Alongside Coffee Break, Daniel has tried various language learning apps and websites in an attempt to connect with other language learners. He believes that these resources compliment the Coffee Break lessons. He stated: “I wouldn’t replace it (Coffee Break) because they serve different purposes but I think it’s a good compliment.”
It also became apparent that learning all of these languages has opened many doors for Daniel. He explains that in his previous job he had the opportunity to manage a project in Brazil purely due to his knowledge of Portuguese. Now, in his current position, he communicates with people all over the world. He explains: “being able to communicate with all of them and speak these languages was what got me the job.”
It is clear that Daniel has had a passion for languages from a very young age. Despite the fact that he speaks an impressive number of languages, he admits that no matter how advanced you are, you never stop learning.