A year of language learning

While 2020 has probably not been the year we expected or planned, there has been one thing which many of us have had to do over the past 12 months more than ever before: we’ve adapted.

Simple things like communicating with the people closest to us have become more complicated, and many of you have told us how your in-person language classes have been cancelled or moved online. It has been difficult or, in many cases, impossible to travel to practise the languages we’re learning, but through live lessons and virtual travel experiences, we’ve adapted.

Now the good news: an ability to adapt is actually one of the most important attributes to have as a language learner.

Let’s imagine you’re reading a text book or listening to one of our podcasts. You hear a particular phrase or expression which doesn’t quite fit what you want to say. You need to be able to adapt that phrase to fit your situation. This often involves changing certain words, the tense of the verb or adjective agreements. You’re adapting the example to fit your needs.

When we do eventually get the chance to travel again and can put our learning into practice, we are likely to be faced with the scenario when we don’t know a particular word, just when we need it. Again, that’s when we need to adapt, and reword things using words we do know.

Hopefully then, the fact that we’re all experts at adapting after this year means we’re better language learners!

Of course, here at Coffee Break Languages we’ve had to adapt too, but we’ve tried our best to bring you high quality language-learning materials throughout the year with all members of the Coffee Break team working remotely. We’ve missed working in the office and in our recording studio, but hopefully it won’t be too long before we can return there.

Month by month

We launched a brand new Coffee Break language back in January with episode 1 of Coffee Break Swedish. Mark also challenged Pierre-Benoît to learn a poem in Scots for a special Burns Day video.

We travelled to Francesca’s village, Pettinengo, in a video we released back in February, and we also started a new “Question of the week” series on Instagram.

As things began to change in March we wanted to make sure that learners in schools had access to materials which they could use to continue learning while at home. Our Learn at Home page was accessed by tens of thousands of parents and teachers around the world. We also held a special lockdown concert for World Piano Day in which Mark was joined by other members of the Coffee Break team for some multilingual songs.

Despite having to rethink our recording processes completely, with no access to the studio, we launched a brand new course in April, Aprende inglés con Coffee Break English, aimed at Spanish-speaking learners of English. We also started broadcasting our first live lessons on Facebook in French, German, Spanish and Italian in April and the Coffee Break Community have been enjoying participating from home and practising reading and listening skills.

In May, with learners in many places around the world at home, we decided to put together some tips for how to learn a language in lockdown. Hopefully Mark’s suggestions came in useful! Of course, our ongoing lessons continued throughout this period, with episodes of Coffee Break Swedish, Coffee Break English and our Coffee Break Spanish Magazine being published regularly, along with blog articles introducing members of the Coffee Break team and the community.

May also saw the culmination of a special project which brought the community together for the Coffee Break Choir. Over 100 learners sang the famous Nat King Cole song L-O-V-E in five languages and were joined by the Coffee Break team for this historic multilingual video!

“The truth was out” in June with the release of our advanced course for French learners, La Vérité éclate toujours. We also released new series of our popular video series Coffee Break German and Spanish To Go.

As language-learners, most of us love travelling and discovering new places, but it soon became clear that that was not going to be easy this year. We started to look at new ways to experience travel from the safety of home and came up with the Coffee Break Travel Diaries which launched in French and Italian in June. We joined Giulia and Paolo virtually as they travelled through Tuscany, while Lara and Noah took the train through the south of France. The Travel Diaries series gave us the opportunity to discover new places, follow the story of our characters and improve our language skills at the same time!

In July we launched Coffee Break Conversations, a new podcast which focused on “conversations about life, learning and languages”. The launch episode featured CBI host Francesca, and later episodes included conversations with Coffee Break learners and some well-known faces in the world of language learning and teaching.

The Coffee Break German and Spanish Travel Diaries began in August and we started following Karin and her family through the German Alpenstraße, while Victoria and Abel headed to the north of Spain for their honeymoon.

In September we continued to publish episodes of Coffee Break Swedish, La Vérité éclate toujours, Coffee Break German and Spanish Travel Diaries and we also released a video shot in Salamanca while we were making our CBS To Go series.

In addition to new seasons of Coffee Break French and Italian To Go (for the first time with extended podcasts) which launched in October, we also answered a question many listeners often ask: how many languages does Mark speak? Watch the video to find out!

One of our most popular posts on Instagram was a special video we put together for World Hello Day in November in which our entire team shared their “hellos”. In addition our live lessons continued on Facebook and YouTube, with thousands of learners taking part each week to practise their language skills.

And so we’re now in December and all this month we’ve been publishing newly updated Festive Phrases videos in which you’ll learn to send festive greetings to over 3 billion people around the world in 25 languages. The Festive Phrases series has been used in thousands of schools worldwide and we’re delighted to have released an updated version this year. December also saw the return of Coffee Break English and we launched Kulturhörnan, a mini-series of podcast episodes on Swedish culture in our mid-season break from the normal Coffee Break Swedish lessons. This month our Coffee Break French and Spanish Masterclasses are coming to an end, so we hope that the students in this year’s cohort have enjoyed their experience!

To round off a year of language-learning in a suitable festive way, Mark and the team put together a seasonal multilingual singalong concert on Sunday, so feel free to join them and hear Pierre-Benoît sing White Christmas in French and English, and Mark sing Winter Wonderland in six languages!

The year in numbers

We always like to have a look at the numbers at the end of the year, and despite everything that 2020 has thrown at us all, we’ve been busy! We published 145 podcast episodes, 114 videos on our YouTube channel and we delivered 68 live lessons over the course of the year.

We delivered 28.7 million free language lessons, meaning that every 1.07 seconds someone, somewhere started a new Coffee Break with us, and in our Coffee Break Academy, students completed over 300,000 learning sessions.

What’s next?

We’re already excited about a whole new year of language-learning in 2021 and we have some exciting plans that we’re looking forward to sharing with you. We’ll be starting the year with a brand new series of Coffee Break Travel Diaries in French, German, Spanish and Italian, and our live lessons will return in the new year.

La Vérité éclate toujours, Coffee Break Swedish and Aprende inglés con Coffee Break English will continue, but we’ll also be extending our Coffee Break English content to appeal to learners of English everywhere.

In addition to all of this, we have some other exciting projects which we’ll keep under wraps for now, but we’re sure that you’ll continue to enjoy learning with our range of materials next year.

Kulturhörnan 01 – Aventsljusstaken – Coffee Break Swedish Culture

Our normal Coffee Break Swedish lessons will return in the new year, but in the meantime it’s the perfect time to find out a little more about Swedish culture with our mini-series, Kulturhörnan – “culture corner”. In this episode Lovisa tells Mark about the tradition of placing an Adventsljsstake in your window in the run-up to the festive season. You can learn new Swedish words and practise your pronunciation with this lesson.

Chapitre 12 – Claire soupira et commença à parler

In the latest episode of La Vérité éclate toujours, Claire tells her story to James. She explains her past relationship with Max and the series of events which have led to her bringing up Yvette on her own. In this episode we’ll see some really interesting adjectives which describe certain people in Claire’s life including comblé, épanoui and roublard, and there are some great expressions to learn too including depuis belle lurette, écarquiller les yeux and much more.

In each episode of the story, published fortnightly, we’ll be following a chapter of La Vérité éclate toujours, specially written to help you build your knowledge of French and extend your range of expression. In the episodes, teacher Mark and narrator Pierre-Benoît will discuss the story, helping you to improve your listening skills.

There’s also an online course version of La Vérité éclate toujours which provides access to a range of additional materials including the text of each chapter, annotated notes, language study podcasts, vocabulary lists, video versions of each episode and our atelier linguistique which helps you to take the language you’ve covered in each chapter further. This course is available on the Coffee Break Academy.

Live Lessons Update – and celebrating our 14th birthday

Coffee Break Spanish was launched on 18th October 2006 so we’re celebrating our 14th birthday today, and we’ve marked the day with a live broadcast updating the Coffee Break Community with our latest podcasts, video courses and live lessons.

We’ve published the schedule for our live lessons from October until December 2020. Click on the image to download the schedule. We’ll be sharing the YouTube link for our live lessons in our Catch-Up Newsletter every Monday. If you’re not already subscribed to our Newsletter, please click here.

In the live video, Mark also provided updates on our podcast episodes including our Travel Diaries series, and our Coffee Break To Go courses. Make sure you’re subscribed to our podcasts and our YouTube channel to get all our latest episodes.

A special thank you to Coffee Break podcast listeners on International Podcast Day

Every 30th September, the podcasting world comes together to celebrate podcasting on International Podcast Day. We’re celebrating today by saying thank you to the Coffee Break community in this special podcast episode. International Podcast Day aims to raise awareness about podcasts and gives podcast creators and listeners a chance to celebrate the medium and the podcast industry.

But podcasting has been around for a lot longer than that! Back in 2004, broadcaster Adam Curry asked developer Dave Winer to develop an audioblogging system and without going into the technical side of things, or indeed who specifically “invented” podcasting, it was Curry and Winer who got the ball rolling. The word “podcast” however, was first mentioned in a newspaper article in the Guardian by technology reporter Ben Hammersley. It was declared Word of the Year by the New Oxford American Dictionary in 2005.

Of course, at this stage Coffee Break hadn’t yet launched, but Coffee Break host Mark was running an education project at the time called Partners in Excellence or “PiE”. This saw the start of his interest in and involement with podcasting, and The PiEcast was used to bring a community of learners together and help them develop their language skills. Mark quickly realised that podcasting was the perfect medium for publishing language lessons, and for sharing his passion for languages with a wider audience.

Coffee Break Spanish was launched in October 2006. As the very first Spanish podcast for beginners on iTunes, it quickly gathered an audience and learners around the world started learning with us. Since then we’ve gone on to produce Coffee Break French, German, Italian, Chinese, Swedish and English and we have plans to develop more Coffee Break languages in the future. We’ve also created shorter podcast series called One Minute Languages covering over 30 languages from Arabic to Zulu.

We’ve published well over 1,000 episodes across the different languages and our podcasts have been downloaded over 290 million times, and we currently deliver over 2 million free language lessons every month to a community of Coffee Break learners.

So that’s why today, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you, our podcast listeners, our Coffee Break community. Without you there wouldn’t be any Coffee Break! Thank you for choosing to listen to our shows, to learn with us and to share your 15 or 20 minute coffee break with me and my cohosts on each episode of the show.

Now just before we finish, a couple of important points: if you’d like to hear about the latest episodes and series from Coffee Break, make sure you join Mark on Sunday 4th October at 4pm UK time / 11am Eastern / 8am Pacific for a live broadcast on YouTube and our Facebook pages. You can go straight to our YT channel – Coffee Break Languages – and click the “Set Reminder” button.

And, if you’d like to help us celebrate International Podcast Day, why not simply tell a language-loving friend about what you’ve learned with our podcasts and help us grow the Coffee Break community even further?

Merci beaucoup – vielen, vielen Dank, muchísimas gracias, grazie molte, xiè xie nimen, tack så jättemycket and thank you! There’s lots more coming from Coffee Break and we hope you continue to enjoy learning with us. Happy International Podcast Day!

Behind the scenes with Coffee Break Spanish in Salamanca

Join the Coffee Break Spanish team behind the scenes as they filmed Season 2 of Coffee Break Spanish To Go in the beautiful Spanish city of Salamanca. This video was filmed before lockdown. Coffee Break Spanish teacher Mark studied in Salamanca many years ago, and this was the first time he had returned in over 25 years.

If you’d prefer not to wait for all 10 lessons of Season 2 to be published, you can access downloadable versions of the videos along with audio versions and lesson notes / transcripts in the Coffee Break Academy. 

Coffee Break Spanish To Go is based on the popular podcast series and online course Coffee Break Spanish. For access to the free podcasts, please click here.

To purchase our full online courses on the Coffee Break Academy, click here.

Sulle orme di San Galgano – Coffee Break Italian Travel Diaries Episode 9

After taking some time to rest his ankle, Paolo is ready to move on to the penultimate stop on their journey: l’Abbazia di San Galgano. The pair take the time to explore the roofless walls of the 13th-century Abbey church and even see the famous spada nella roccia! Mark and Francesca also discuss when to use pronto a and pronto per, as well athe use of the direct object pronoun lo.

Chambres d’hôtes – Coffee Break French Travel Diaries Episode 9

Lara and Noah round off their time in Albertville by getting to know the locals at une chambre d’hôtes (a guesthouse), before travelling further into the mountains to the ski resort of Aime-la-Plagne. Listen out for an example of the construction, afin de + infinitive, the origin of the verb héberger, as well as some pronunciation tips.

A Coffee Break Conversation with French learner Stephen

In this episode of Coffee Break Conversations we’re talking to Stephen, a Coffee Break French learner from California. Stephen explains that even if you’re not able to access native speakers of the language you’re learning, there are still ways in which you create a daily immersive learning experience: “the more ways you can go about exposing yourself to a language, the richer and more rewarding the experience will be”.

Sosta per le vie di Lucca – Coffee Break Italian Travel Diaries Episode 2

In our second episode of the Coffee Break Italian Travel Diaries, join Giulia and Paolo as they travel on towards Lucca. We’ll accompany them for some lunch and the resulting abbiocco – that sleepy feeling you get after a delicious meal.

Travel Diaries will be published in one season of ten episodes weekly from 5th June. If you’d like to access lesson notes and a video version which features pauses after each sentence to allow you to practise your pronunciation, check out the full course on the Coffee Break Academy.

Coffee Break Conversations: Season Preview

Coffee Break Conversations is a new podcast in which we talk about life, learning and languages. Over the past 14 years, Coffee Break Languages podcasts have helped millions of language learners around the world learn French, Spanish, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Swedish and English. In this new podcast we’re going to be having conversations with some of these learners. In other episodes we’ll be talking to some language professionals, people who spend their days working in the field of languages, and we’ll also be getting to know some of the people behind Coffee Break, and sharing tips and tricks to help you in your own journey of learning a language.

C’est parti ! Coffee Break French Travel Diaries Episode 1

Welcome to this brand new series from Coffee Break French for intermediate learners. While it’s not so easy to travel right now, why not do some virtual travelling with us? Join Lara and her boyfriend Noah as they travel by train through the south of France. In this first episode they’re getting ready to depart from Montparnasse station in Paris, and we’ll hear about their plans for their trip.

Travel Diaries will be published in one season of ten episodes weekly from 4th June. If you’d like to access lesson notes and a video version which features pauses after each sentence to allow you to practise your pronunciation, check out the full course on the Coffee Break Academy.

At Coffee Break French we provide content for beginners, intermediate and advanced learners, along with regular mini lessons on social media. Visit coffeebreakfrench.com for all the information you need to build your confidence in French, whatever your level.

Chapitre 1 – Quelque chose ne collait vraiment pas !

James has been summoned to Paris by his friend Max under mysterious circumstances. Unsure of what to expect, he heads to the apartment where Max lives. But what will he find there?

Welcome to the first episode of our new podcast for advanced French learners. In each episode of the story, published fortnightly, we’ll be following a chapter of La Vérité éclate toujours, specially written to help you build your knowledge of French and extend your range of expression. In the episodes, teacher Mark and narrator Pierre-Benoît will discuss the story, helping you to improve your listening skills.

There’s also an online course version of La Vérité éclate toujours which provides access to a range of additional materials including the text of each chapter, annotated notes, language study podcasts, vocabulary lists, video versions of each episode and our atelier linguistique which helps you to take the language you’ve covered in each chapter further. This course is available on the Coffee Break Academy.

La Vérité éclatera … le 1er juin 2020

We’re delighted to announce that La Vérité éclate toujours, our new advanced French course, will launch on Monday 1st June. Given the current situation we’re not able to access our studio, so we’ve been putting in place new systems for recording the content and we’re excited that the “truth will out” very soon.

La Vérité éclate toujours is an audio drama which we think you’re going to love. However, this podcast will not be available on the normal Coffee Break French feed. Instead you need to subscribe to a new feed specifically for this new show. If you’re using Apple Podcasts, click here. Alternatively, just search for “Coffee Break French” on your favourite podcast app and you’ll find the new feed for La Vérité éclate toujours there.

If you find La Vérité éclate toujours is at too high a level for you, please check out our other Coffee Break French podcasts.

You can find support materials for this show in the online course for La Vérité éclate toujours on the Coffee Break Academy.

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.

Free Language Resources for Learning at Home

Throughout the world the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is being felt and here at Radio Lingua we are aware that schools are closing. In an attempt to help parents, carers, teachers and learners to minimise disruption, we have gathered a collection of our free resources for primary and secondary on a single page which can be easily shared.

This page lists resources for primary schools teaching French and Spanish and we are making available our High Five French and High Five Spanish courses free of charge for the next three months.

We’ve also providing links to our One Minute Languages resources, and for secondary we’ve listed all our podcasts and YouTube videos which may be useful for learners to work independently.

To access these resources, please visit radiolingua.com/learnathome.

Pre-estreno de Coffee Break English

¿Quieres aprender inglés, pero no sabes por dónde comenzar? ¿No tienes mucho tiempo para aprender inglés? ¡Ahora puedes aprender inglés con Coffee Break English! Con nuestros podcasts y cursos en línea, ¡Estarás hablando inglés en un dos por tres! Acompaña a nuestro maestro Mark y a la estudiante María y aprende inglés con nuestras lecciones de 15 minutos. ¡Perfectas para tu Coffee Break!

The Coffee Break Catch-Up – February 2020

Join Coffee Break founder and CEO Mark Pentleton for this month’s Coffee Break Catch-Up in which we update you on all things Coffee Break, from our latest podcast episodes and videos to what’s been happening on our social profiles. Coming up in this edition:

  • the latest episodes of our Coffee Break German and Spanish Magazines;
  • the first lessons of our Coffee Break Swedish course;
  • announcements about our forthcoming Coffee Break English for Spanish speakers and La Vérité Éclate Toujours, our advanced French course;
  • a sneak preview of our latest Italian video in which we join Francesca in her village in Piemonte;
  • cultural updates from around the world.

If you’d like to access all the links for this episode and practise your reading skills in the language you’re learning, click here to sign up for our weekly language and culture newsletter.

CBSw 1.01 | Hur mår du? – How are you?

Join teacher Hanna and learner Mark and learn Swedish on your coffee break! In this first episode you’ll learn some basic greetings and how to ask the question “how are you?”, and give different answers, depending on how you’re feeling. It’s just like going for a coffee with your Swedish-speaking friend and learning Swedish quickly and easily. In this episode you’ll also meet our Cultural Correspondent Emma, and we’ll learn about the Swedish tradition of ‘fika’.