Keen cyclists, Tony and his wife, live on the west coast of Canada and over recent years have cycled a great deal in Canada, the UK and Ireland. They started learning French after planning a 3-week cycling trip to Normandy and have been listening to Coffee Break French on a regular basis ever since their French tutor introduced them to the podcasts. Tony tells us all about his language-learning journey with Coffee Break so far.
One of the first things Tony tells us is how much he and his wife have been enjoying developing their language skills with Coffee Break French: “They (the lessons) have been absolutely fantastic. I would listen to them while running and was able to get through four seasons … subsequently, we purchased Season 3, and plan to buy Season 4.”
Tony often listens to the lessons while running: “Mark became a virtual running buddy – though he never got tired or out of breath!” One of the main things Tony loves about Coffee Break French is the style of the lessons: “Mark is such a great teacher. Clearly he loves what he does, and this really comes across. He has a friendly, approachable style, and can put himself in the shoes of the learner, so he explains everything so well.” Tony also appreciates the fact that the lessons progress at a steady pace, enabling language skills to develop naturally: “The gentle progression from absolute basics through to some quite complicated material seems almost effortless. The methodology is excellent too, with different approaches being chosen for the different levels.”
Both Tony and his wife enjoyed the lessons so much that they decided to sign up for the premium version: “My wife and I found that the Coffee Break French series were an excellent complement to the lessons with the tutor. And really, the emphasis switched so that the tutor supported the CBF courses, rather than the other way around.”
Having returned from their trip to Normandy, Tony was pleased to inform us that their ability to speak and understand French made all the difference. Despite the fact that many people spoke English, there were instances where some knowledge of French came in useful. “There were lots of times when we had to depend on French. We found everyone, without exception, to be friendly and very patient with us.”
Reflecting on their trip, Tony now realises that he had always been wary of going to France due to the fact that he couldn’t speak the language. Thankfully, now, thanks to the confidence he has gained through language learning, he has been able to discover a beautiful part of France. Even though they made mistakes, they still managed to get their point across and even have a few laughs along the way! “In hindsight, I realise that I had had a fear of going to France in the past because I didn’t know the language. That fear disappeared pretty much as soon as we arrived, and we came to enjoy talking to people. Even though we were slow and made many mistakes, we could still have full conversations. And we had many laughs too, especially with people who spoke little or no English.”
Tony leaves us with some final thoughts on his experience with Coffee Break French so far:
“CBF transformed a subject I feared into something that’s fun, rewarding and useful. We’re really keen to continue learning. In particular, I want to recognise Mark’s graciousness in providing so much material without charge. I realise, of course, that he hopes people will be led to purchase the premium courses, but even so, he’s done a selfless public service by producing so many free podcasts.”