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Meet Emma, Coffee Break Spanish learner

Tell us who you are, where you live, your nationality and how long you’ve been learning a language with us.

I’m Emma, and I’ve been living in Germany for 12 years. I’m British and naturalised German, and I’ve been using the Coffee Break Spanish Masterclass since October. I also tried Coffee Break Spanish for a while a number of years back, but I had to take a break with my Spanish learning due to being a busy working mum!

What experience have you had speaking and learning other languages?

I learnt German at school before forgetting everything except ja, nein and ich bin zwölf Jahre alt, and then moved to Germany to be with my boyfriend when I was 22. I pretty much started over with German in intensive adult education classes which were brilliant because there was such a mix of nationalities that you HAD to speak (hesitantly) in German even in the breaks because there was no other common language. I took Goethe exams up to a C1 level and found it really helpful to be immersed in the language every day. A little over a decade later, I still use my German every day for plenty of things, not least my work – I’m a translator and work translating German texts into English.

As far as Spanish goes, I started learning around 8 or 9 years ago, again at evening classes where I live. The progress wasn’t as fast as I’d wanted, because of course we had German as a common language so if the right word didn’t spring to mind then saying it in German was easier. I don’t recommend learning a third language “from” your second language necessarily, it was very confusing! Then I let it slide a bit while my sons were little, and in the last year or so I’ve been picking it back up with Coffee Break Spanish, other podcasts, books and TV shows.

What are your favourite memories of learning a language?

It’s hard to choose! Probably a toss-up between being complimented on how good my English was in Nuremberg once when interpreting a German language guided tour for my parents – I should hope it’s good given that it’s my mother tongue! – and getting to hear all the speeches at our wedding twice because they were all in both English and German. Spanish-wise, visiting Barcelona and being able to understand menus and communicate a little.

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

I’d like to be able to speak Spanish with an acquaintance of mine who lives nearby – at the moment we communicate in German but I’d like to switch to speaking Spanish with her!

What’s the best language-learning tip you have found works for you?

Immersion! As much as you can, switch your everyday activities over to your target languages. Reading books, watching TV shows, listening to podcasts while you work out or travel, anything you can find that makes the language a natural part of your day.

Quick-fire round

• Favourite language: At the moment it’s still German – sorry Spanish!
• Favourite word or phrase in the language: Doch – so versatile and I miss it in English!
• Favourite film, TV show, book or singer in the language? Fanta 4 are always good
• Favourite destination to practise your language: The town I live in in Lower Franconia

Please finish off with a message to your fellow members of the Coffee Break community and the Coffee Break Team.

Thanks for the thorough and well-thought out content you produce!

CBE 1.02 | What’s your name? – Saludos y presentaciones

¡Bienvenido a Coffee Break English! En la Lección 2 aprenderás a saludar dependiendo del momento del día que sea, y serás capaz de presentarte a los demás. Únete al profesor Mark y a la estudiante María, quien también es una principiante, y aprende inglés con ellos en este nuevo curso. ¡Solo necesitarás una pausa para el café!

Meet the team: Sofía

¡Hola! My name is María Sofía but I’m called Sofía for short. I am from Panama City, Panama and I am currently studying and living in Glasgow. I am a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Glasgow. I joined the Coffee break team in May 2019 and since then, I’ve been enjoying every second of it!

What is your role in Coffee Break?

I am the Social Media Assistant for Spanish. My tasks are very varied: from writing content for the different social media platforms to proofing and translating learning materials. Additionally, I participate in the Coffee Break English course, where I am the student ‘María’ who is learning English. I’ve been involved in this project from the very beginning and I’m really excited for everyone to hear it.

What experience have you had speaking and learning other languages?

I’ve been learning English since kindergarten. I used to have 3-4 hours a week of English studies throughout my elementary and high school years. In high school, I had the opportunity to travel to Bournemouth and study English for a month. I also participated in different debates in the United States which helped me gain confidence in the English language. Recently, I took classes to learn Portuguese at university and I am currently at a basic-intermediate level. Learning Portuguese has been quite easy for me as it is very similar to Spanish. However, I sometimes confuse some words because of this!

What are your favourite memories of working with Coffee Break?

Learning more about Latin-American and Spanish culture as I have to do a lot of research from all of the Spanish-speaking countries when creating content. However, if I had to choose one specific memory it would definitely be the development of Coffee Break English, where I had the opportunity to record a podcast for the first time in my life. It was awesome!

Where would your ideal coffee break be and with whom?

I would go for a hot chocolate as coffee is not my thing. It would be in any café in autumn with my mum as I don’t get to see her very often.

What’s your best language learning tip?

Watch TV! It really helps a lot. Use the subtitles in the language you are learning and when you feel confident, drop them. You will learn a lot of words and phrases that are commonly used.

Quick-fire round

• Favourite language: English
• Favourite word/phrase: ‘wee’ which is used by Scottish people to mean ‘small/little’
• Favourite film: La La Land and Se7en
• Favourite TV show: The Office and How I Met Your Mother
• Favourite Singer/Band: The Killers
• Favourite destination: The San Blas Islands and the Swiss Alps

Any further thoughts?

Dear Coffee Breakers, take every chance you can, as we only regret the opportunities we miss!

CBE 1.01 | I’m very well, thanks – Estoy muy bien, gracias

¡Bienvenido a Coffee Break English! En la Lección 1 aprenderás a saludar, a decir cómo estás y a preguntar a los demás. Únete al profesor Mark y a la estudiante María, quien también es una principiante, y aprende inglés con ellos en este nuevo curso. ¡Solo necesitarás una pausa para el café!

Join the Coffee Break Choir

We’re bringing together the Coffee Break Community from around the world for a one-off creative event. Right now we believe that spreading some love around the world is important, so we’ve chosen the Nat King Cole song L-O-V-E, which just happens to have versions in French, German, Spanish and Italian as well as the original English. We’d like you to film yourself singing in English and in the foreign language you’re learning, and we’ll put together a video featuring the members of the community joined together in song.

For rehearsal videos, lyric sheets and everything else you need to know about this project, please visit the Coffee Break Choir page here.

CBS Mag 3.10 | La serie del momento

In this final episode of this season of the Coffee Break Spanish Magazine, we discuss the popular Spanish crime television series, La Casa de Papel. In response to listener, John’s question, Fernanda explains how to say “to try” in Spanish, and more specifically, when to use the verb tratar, or the verb intentar. To finish, Anabel explains the meaning behind an interesting expression.

Meet James Michael, Coffee Break French and Italian learner

Tell us who you are, where you live, your nationality and how long you’ve been learning a language with us.

My name is James and I was born and raised in Southern California in a very mono-lingual family. I started learning Spanish at school when I was 12 years old. Changing schools meant that even though I passed Spanish One with an A grade the first time around, I had to retake different versions of Spanish One with different textbooks three more times. Finally, after settling into one school for three years, I got to take the next two years of Spanish courses. Having a pretty good grounding in Spanish, I then spent the next ten years working in restaurants in California where in many instances I was the only English speaker in the back of the house.

Fast forward twenty years and I found myself working on a ranch in Arizona where I met an outfitter that did two week horseback camping trips with guests from Europe. Working for them for two years I found myself learning basic phrases and words in German and French. I also met an English woman who later became my wife. We moved to England (Northumberland) for four years to get visas for the both of us to live in each other’s countries.

Since I was from a sunny, warm climate, my wife recognised that I might need to find warmer weather. On a trip to Barcelona, I found that while walking through the airport, my Spanish came back to me. It felt like I was at home in a “foreign” country. Since Catalan is the prevalent language in Barcelona, it seemed natural to learn it. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a way to learn Catalan online. The language seemed to me (wrongly of course) to be a mixture of French and Spanish. This led to learning French with the free Coffee Break French podcasts that I found on iTunes. We travelled to Paris a couple of times and found the basics I had learned from your podcasts felt fairly comfortable there.

Moving back to the United States to work as a tour guide at the Grand Canyon, I was the only Spanish speaking guide the company (Pink Jeep Tours) had at that location and having a forty-five minute commute gave me plenty of time to listen to Mark and Anna from Coffee Break French. Soon I was doing tours with guests from both Spanish and French speaking countries.

I have now purchased the premium editions of Coffee Break French Seasons 3 and 4, Coffee Break Reading Club (Spanish and French), and En Route avec Coffee Break French. The latter was particularly fun because my wife and I were planning a trip to Nice to coincide with a trip back to Northumberland to visit family and friends.

We now reside in Sedona Arizona where I still work for Pink Jeep Tours, but very seldom use Spanish or French because while Sedona is a major tourist destination, we seldom get international guests as we did at Grand Canyon. We still visit Northumberland every year and take a side trip to either Spain or France each time. I still feel my brain “switching channels” as we walk through airports.

A friend from the London area is renting a villa in Tuscany for her 60th birthday and we will be joining her and other friends there for a week so now I’m working on Coffee Break Italian.

What experience have you had speaking and learning other languages?

I love spending time in France and Spain and being able to converse with locals. As I grew up just a short drive north of Mexico I used to travel there when I was younger and was delighted at the look on people’s faces when they found out I spoke their language. I have heard from acquaintances that when travelling to other countries, the locals can be quite rude. But while I am travelling I find I am greeted warmly when people find that I have taken time to learn their language.

What are your favourite memories of learning a language?

My favourite memories are when I’ve spoken to a local shopkeeper or just about any other local for a couple of minutes before they realise from the cut of my clothes and my “strange” accent that I’m not from “around there”. Since my wife has a British accent they figure me to be a Brit also, and comment how strange it is to find an Englishman that speaks another language. I really love the shocked faces when they find that I’m an American that travels to Europe.

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

Just about any cafe on the Mediterranean would be fine with me.

What’s the best language-learning tip you have found works for you?

Practise every day. Even just a couple of minutes a day helps keep things fresh in your brain. DON’T try to cram your brain with long sessions of learning. More than a half hour or so seems too much like work and you won’t learn as fast or as easily.

Quick-fire Round

Favourite language: French
Favourite word or phrase in the language: s’il vous plaît
Favourite destination to practise your language: Nice, Côte d’Azure

Please finish off with a message to your fellow members of the Coffee Break community and the Coffee Break Team

Have fun, practise often, but never for long periods of time. If travelling by plane to where you plan on speaking your new language, strap on your headphones and be ready when you hit the ground.

Meet the Team: Robert

Hallihallo! My name is Robert and I am working as the German Social Media Assistant for Radio Lingua. I joined the team in 2019 while in my first year at the University of Glasgow, where I take courses in Psychology and Philosophy. Since then, I have been working on creating social media content and other Coffee Break German media, like the Reading Club. I am currently still studying at the University of Glasgow.

What is your role in Coffee Break?

As a Social Media Assistant, my main area of responsibility is social media. This includes a wide range of tasks – creating posts for all of Radio Lingua’s channels, customer support and proof-reading outgoing content are only some examples. In addition to this, I am involved in creating new teaching material. This is the part of my job I love the most, as I get to be creative and actively help people learn languages.

What experience have you had speaking and learning other languages?

Having been raised bilingually with Hungarian and German, I have always had contact with two different languages and cultures. This background made me appreciate the beauty of different languages and how to master them. I have always loved practising different languages to communicate with different people and to enjoy literature and film in their original languages. In addition to my mother tongues, I began studying English at the age of six and later, took up Latin and French.

What are your favourite memories of working with Coffee Break?

Given my short time at the company, I do not have to think about this too long. I really enjoy creating culture content, be it writing posts about specific events or crafting articles about German traditions. I also love working with our team, which made me feel very welcome from the first day I stepped into the office.

Where would your ideal coffee break be and with whom?

Stanley Kubrick on the terrace of a nice little coffee shop.


What’s your best language learning tip?

Memorise new vocabulary! It can be boring, but it’s really worth it. There is nothing more exciting than talking to someone in a language and being able to express yourself with different words. At the same time there is nothing more embarrassing than standing silently because you can’t remember any words.

Quick-fire round

• Favourite language: Ouf, that’s difficult. Maybe … German?
• Favourite word/phrase in French: Fernweh – It describes the feeling of longing for far away places beautifully in one word.
• Favourite film: German: Goodbye, Lenin! French: À bout de souffle and Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain
Hungarian: Sztracsatella (Trust me, it’s great)
• Favourite TV show: Monty Python’s Flying Circus
• Favourite singer: Freddie Mercury
• Favourite destination: Paris, Berlin, Florence, London … I just love big cities

Please finish off with a message to the Coffee Break community.

I know learning languages can be hard and tiresome sometimes. But trust me, there is nothing more rewarding than being able to talk to a person in their native language. They will really appreciate your effort and you will be able to show off your language skills. So whenever you are lacking motivation for studying, try to remember this feeling!

CBS Mag 3.09 | La Gastronomía Mexicana

It’s time for another episode of the Coffee Break Spanish Magazine! We hope you’re hungry as this week’s episode is all about Mexican food. Listener Jorge would like to know more about the phrase el uno al otro and Sofía shares a joke about a much loved Mexican dish.

Meet Parul, Coffee Break German learner

Tell us who you are, where you live, your nationality and how long you’ve been learning a language with us.

I am a creative Indian working in a global environment. Though, like all Indians I’m already a multilingual, to learn a foreign language was a long-standing dream. Four years ago when my profession offered me the opportunity I jumped to it but needed extra support. Coffee Break German filled that gap and is now a major part of my daily routine.

What experience have you had speaking and learning other languages?

At home we speak mostly Hindi and English which is a common scenario in India. I took up Portuguese about 7 years ago while travelling to Brazil but soon got out of touch. I am interested in Spanish and French too but German is my current focus.

What are your favourite memories of learning a language?

To speed up my learning I listen to the Coffee Break German podcasts while driving in the mornings. Once, after listening to Coffee Break German, I used some new vocabulary in an official meeting and it surprised the entire audience, including management. With the limelight I did feel very conscious but I could get the audience to listen to me with more interest.

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

I would like to share a coffee with Hans Zimmer after one his concerts in Austria.

What’s the best language-learning tip you have found works for you?

I have printed conjugation words in front on my work station. Also the sentence Übung macht den Meister … from CBG motivates me a lot.

Quick-fire Round

• Favourite language: German
Favourite word or phrase in the language: Lebe deine Träume!
Favourite TV show, book or singer in the language: Lola rennt, Rocca
• Favourite destination to practise your language: Germany

Please finish off with a message to your fellow members of the Coffee Break community and the Coffee Break Team.

I have heard many other podcasts but CBG really stuck with me and I have recommended it to fellow team members also. I truly am grateful to CBG for making language learning so much fun. Vielen Dank und weiterhin gute Arbeit!