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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!

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