CBG Mag 1.08 | 300 Jahre Liechtenstein

In this episode of the Coffee Break German Magazine we’re heading to the Principality of Liechtenstein, sandwiched between Austria and Switzerland. Europe’s fourth-smallest country it’s one of only two doubly landlocked countries in the world (the other being Uzbekistan!) Find out more about this small German-speaking country and its 300th anniversary in this episode. In addition Olivera is back with another long German word.

The Coffee Break Catch-Up: 5 December 2019

Join Coffee Break founder and CEO Mark Pentleton for our weekly live broadcast 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;
  • news for language-learning music lovers;
  • the announcement of our Black Friday Prize Draw winners;
  • 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.

CBG Mag 1.07 | Entdecke die Bremer Stadtmusikanten

Have you heard the one about the donkey, the dog, the cat and the rooster? In this episode of the Coffee Break German Magazine we’re finding out about the famous Town Musicians of Bremen. First published in Grimms’ Fairy Tales in 1819, Die Bremer Stadmusikanten has become a key part of the cultural legacy of the German-speaking world. We’ll also hear from listener Nick who wants to know more about the small but versatile word doch, and Olivera is back with another long German word.

CBS Mag 3.01 | El fútbol – en el corazón de todos los latinos

In this first episode in our new season of the Coffee Break Spanish Magazine, join Fernanda, Sofía and Mark as they discuss a topic close to every Latin American’s heart: el fútbol. There’s a question from listener Lonneke about the different verbs for “to walk”, and Sofía provides us with some useful words and phrases associated with football.

Unser Tag in Potsdam – Coffee Break German Travels with Julia and Mark

Join Coffee Break German Cultural Correspondent Julia and learner Mark for a trip to the beautiful town of Potsdam where Julia grew up. Mark puts his German into practice with Julia’s help and together they visit various parts of Potsdam including the Russische Kolonie Alexandrowka, the Holländisches Viertel, and Park Sanssouci.

We’ve provided English captions for the whole video, and all German used in the video has both German and English subtitles. Click on the Subtitles/Closed Captions (CC) button.

New Coffee Break Languages and much more

Here’s a roundup of all the news from our special event held on Friday 8th November. If you’ve not yet watched the live video, you can do so here:

The Coffee Break Spanish Magazine

We’re adding a new Coffee Break Spanish Magazine series to the podcast feed and the Coffee Break Academy. In each episode join Mark and Fernanda for a lively discussion of an aspect of Hispanic culture. You’ll hear a variety of Spanish accents: Fernanda is from Chile and we’ll be joined by our cultural correspondents Sofía from Panama and Anabel from Spain. There are also questions from our listeners in each episode. Listen to the preview episode

Learning languages with music

Every week we bring you a Tune for Tuesday, and we’re developing the area of using music in your language learning with a new series of blog articles in which we make some recommendations on great songs for language learners. There’s even a Spotify playlist to help you! This week it’s Italian: read the article.

Coffee Break Conversations

Our Meet the CoffeeBreakers is a popular area of the website where we tell the stories of language learners like you. We’ve decided to develop this further and are going to be launching a new podcast called Coffee Break Conversations. Each episode will feature an interview with a learner and we’ll share the successes and challenges of learning a language, along with tips and tricks to help you in your own learning. Would you like to take part? Tell us your story!

A new German video

For German learners, we’ve just posted a special video on our YouTube channel which features our cultural correspondent Julia. In Unser Tag in Potsdam, Julia takes Mark on a trip to her hometown of Potsdam and you can go along for the ride! Watch the video.

Coffee Break To Go

Our Coffee Break To Go videos feature interviews with native speakers and help you practise your listening with a range of different accents and styles of speaking. Coffee Break Italian To Go will be broadcast on Tuesdays and Coffee Break French To Go will be broadcast on Wednesdays starting next week. You can watch our promos for a sneak preview: Italian | French

Introducing Coffee Break English

We receive requests for new Coffee Break language courses almost every day and one of the most popular requests is for a course in English. This is why we’ve decided to start working on Coffee Break English. Our first course in this whole new area will be for Spanish speakers. Share this with your Spanish-speaking friends! Find out more about Coffee Break English here.

Introducing Coffee Break Swedish

We’re launching not only a 6th Coffee Break language, but a 7th one too! Starting in January 2020 you can learn Swedish with Coffee Break Swedish. Join teacher Hanna, cultural correspondent Emma and learner Mark in each lesson and build your understanding of this fascinating language and culture. Find out more and sign up to be notified when Swedish goes live!

Announcing Coffee Break French Season 5

Voulez-vous encore un peu de Coffee Break French ? We’re delighted to announce that Coffee Break French Season 5 is now in production and it will be launching in early 2020. There’s a sneak preview in our event video.

And how was our event linked to ABBA?

Finally, if you’ve been wondering why all our marketing and social posts this week have been linked to ABBA lyrics and are curious to see if you spotted them all, check out this article on our site. We’re all ABBA fans at Coffee Break Languages and we couldn’t resist a few references throughout the event.

A peak behind the scenes of our ABBA-inspired campaign

It’s no secret that here at Coffee Break Languages we’re all ABBA fans, so when we were planning our special event which included the announcement of Coffee Break Swedish, we felt it was only appropriate to include a few references to ABBA. Some of these were fairly obvious, taken from the most popular ABBA songs, but there were a few more obscure references hidden in the various social posts, email messages and the script of the event itself. In response to requests from the Coffee Break community, we’ve decided to reveal all here.


First of all, why ABBA? Well, I’ve loved the music of ABBA since I was a child. There was something special about the melodies, the clipped pronunciation of the Scandinavian voices singing pop songs which, at the time, were not seen as particularly “cool”, but that didn’t matter to me.

There was also something exotic and “foreign” about songs like Voulez-vous, Fernando , Mamma Mia and Hasta Mañana, and the Gracias por la música album was probably among the first music in a language other than English I’d ever heard. When I discovered that the early music of Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Frida was predominantly in Swedish, I was desperate to find recordings of their early albums and built an extensive collection of CDs of pre- and eventually post-ABBA music recorded in Swedish. ABBA has been part of my life, so it was only natural to include some references as we announced Coffee Break Swedish to the world.

Our Marketing Campaign

It all began with our initial invitation on Instagram last week: “We’ve done it all before and now we’re back to get some more”. This first line was hopefully cryptic enough not to spoil the surprise, but we deliberately chose an image including strong coffee and kannelbullar, the traditional cinnamon buns which are a staple part of any real Swedish coffee break or fika. The lyrics come from the first verse of the ABBA classic, Voulez-vous:

And here we go again, we know the start, we know the end,
masters of the scene.
We’ve done it all before, and now we’re back to get some more.
You know what I mean.”

Voulez-Vous, 1979


Every Monday we post a #mondaymotivation image on all our social media networks, providing some motivation for language learners. The focus is normally about opening your mind and thinking about the opportunities language-learning provides, and this week’s image focused on travel. For this reason we chose a lyric from the song Move On (which is highly underrated in my opinion): “I’ve travelled every country, I’ve travelled in my mind”.

I’ve travelled every country
I’ve travelled in my mind;
it seems we’re on a journey,
a trip through space and time.”

Move On
The Album, 1977


In the caption which accompanied this image we also quoted I Have a Dream, mentioning that having a “destination makes it worth the while”.

And my destination makes it worth the while
Pushing through the darkness, still another mile.”

I Have A Dream
Voulez-Vous, 1979

We’re adding to our range of Coffee Break Magazine podcasts this week with the introduction of the Coffee Break Spanish Magazine, and our suggestion was that using these podcasts on your commute may be the perfect way of keeping up your language skills, just like reading “the morning paper going into town”. This was exactly what Agnetha sang about in one of ABBA’s last singles, The Day Before You Came. It’s also worth mentioning that many lines in this song start with “I must have…” which for any language-lover throws up all sorts of tense challenges when translating into other languages!

I must have read the morning paper going into town
And having gotten through the editorial no doubt I must have frowned”

The Day Before You Came
Single, 1982


On the day of our launch it was exactly a week since we first announced the event and therefore the perfect opportunity to include the line from The Name of the Game: “only a week since we started” in our Instagram post.

I’ve seen you twice in a short time, only a week since we started.
It seems to me for every time, I’m getting more open-hearted.”

The Name of the Game
The Album, 1977


We then revisited Voulez-Vous and mentioned that there was definitely “a sense of expectation hanging in the air”, and featured the main strap line of our campaign: “Here we go again”. We chose the graphic shown above which featured four cups on a white wooden background. The additional empty hook pointed to the idea that there was a cup missing. In our case the missing cup was the new language that we were about to reveal, Swedish. The fact that the image felt a bit Greek in style also seemed to work, linking to the Mamma Mia movies, although we were concerned that some viewers may guess that we were going to launch Coffee Break Greek. Not yet, at least!

This line is also from Voulez-vous, although it’s also recognisable from the title of the second Mamma Mia film. It features in the song Mamma Mia, albeit in a slightly different form:

Mamma Mia, here I go again
My, my, how can I resist you”

Mamma Mia
ABBA, 1975


There’s one final point about this image which I have to mention and which ties up the Swedish link even further: I’m 99% certain that the cup hooks and rack are the Fintorp cup rail and hooks from Ikea, because we have exactly the same in our video studio, as shown here!

Our “one more thing” announcement was that we’ve been working on the fifth season of Coffee Break French, so we couldn’t resist the final ABBA reference which simply used the title of Voulez-Vous, but we made sure to use the exact colours of the text on the Voulez-Vous album for extra authenticity!

Other references

  • Our feature on using music in your language learning quoted the lyrics of Take a Chance on me, as we suggested that you “listen to some music; maybe just talking…” about the lyrics would help!
  • In our YouTube feature, we asked if you were “tired of TV” or if you’d had enough of Netflix and if so, why not check out our YouTube channel which is full of videos for language learners. The “tired of TV” reference of course came from the first line of Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!
  • As we introduced Coffee Break English, a whole new area of development for us, we referred to this as “taking on a new dimension”, quoting from As Good As New: “As good as new, and growing too, yes I think it’s taking on a new dimension”.

The font

When designing any marketing campaign, one of the most important elements to ensure consistency throughout the graphics is the choice of font, and for anything involving ABBA, there’s only one font that can be considered: News Gothic. This was the font chosen by Rune Söderqvist who designed the ABBA logo with the familiar reversed “B” and which became the logo of the group from 1976. Interestingly it was also used in the Star Wars “opening crawl” and for the closing credits of all the films in the series.

Although the original ABBA designs used mostly the bold variety of News Gothic, we included some light versions of the font in some of our graphics for our video content in the presentation. Of course, we made sure to reduce the kerning by about 2% to make sure that the wording on all our images looked as close as possible to the original ABBA designs!


We’re probably a bit mad. Or at the very least ABBA-obsessed. But that’s part of the fun of designing this whole campaign! I hope that it was all subtle enough to not be too obvious, but when you look back at the whole campaign it all makes sense. And it was fun to create these graphics and pay homage to my favourite group! I hope this outline of this campaign gives you a peak behind the scenes and that it explains the thought process behind creating the marketing materials for it.

One more thing

If you’ve not already seen our previous testimony to our favourite group, then do make sure you watch the video we made: a highlight of “our last summer” 😉 involved various members of the Coffee Break team performing our own parody version of Mamma Mia, the story of a language learner.

Introducing Coffee Break Swedish

We’re delighted to introduce our 7th Coffee Break language course. From January 2020 you can learn Swedish with Hanna, our native-speaker teacher and Emma our Swedish cultural correspondent. The Coffee Break Swedish course will follow the same structure as our previous language courses, and you’ll develop your confidence in the language and learn to communicate in various situations when travelling in Sweden and interacting with native speakers.

If you’d like to find out more about Coffee Break Swedish and be notified when we’re launching the show, complete the form below:

Introducing Coffee Break English

For over 10 years we’ve helped English speakers learn Spanish and now it’s time to help Spanish speakers learn English! With Coffee Break English for Spanish speakers we’ll be teaching the absolute basics of the English language. If you’re interested in finding out more about Coffee Break English, enter your details below.

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! El podcast sale al aire en enero 2020, y si te gustaría saber más, por favor escribe tu correo electrónico aquí y te haremos saber una vez ya esté disponible.

CBI Mag 1.10 | Adesso pedala!

Often described as “the other Italian national pastime” (in addition to il calcio, football) cycling is huge in Italy. In this final episode of this season of the Coffee Break Italian Magazine, we take a closer look at the sport which is one of the most practised and watched in the country. In response to listener Nicole’s question, Francesca explains the interesting word infatti and how, in fact, it isn’t always the correct choice for translating “in fact”!

CBF Mag 1.10 | La Tour Eiffel

It’s the most visited monument in the world and at the time of its construction it was the tallest building in the world. Standing in the heart of the French capital, it is undeniably the global symbol of France. We’re talking, of course, about the Eiffel Tower, and in this episode Mark and Pierre-Benoît talk about this famous monument. There’s also a phone-in question from listener Freya who wants to know when to put prochain before and after the noun.

In the final section of this episode Susie mentioned the Charles Trenet song Y’a de la Joie. You can listen to this song on YouTube.

CBG Mag 1.05 | Der Rheinfall ist kein Reinfall

For this episode we’re heading to northern Switzerland, the location of the impressive Rheinfall waterfall. You’ll learn all about this natural wonder and practise your German at the same time. Andrea also answers a question from listener Adebajo which concerns two very similar words: Zeichen and zeichnen.

The Coffee Break Catch-Up: 24 October 2019

It’s time for our weekly live broadcast 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. This week our Talking Point is TV series for language learners: if you have a favourite Netflix show, let us know in the comments! Coming up in this edition:

  • the latest episodes of our Coffee Break French, German and Italian Magazines;
  • Tune for Tuesday;
  • One Minute Languages on our YouTube channel;
  • news of a special event coming on the 8th of November.

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.

CBI Mag 1.09 | La Ricetta di Francesca

By the time you’ve listened to this episode you’ll have l’acquolina in bocca – your mouth will be watering! Francesca shares a recipe for the rice dish panissa which involves beans, onion, Italian sausage and Arborio rice, and there’s a question from listener Donna who is confused about the difference between the verbs potere and riuscire.

The Coffee Break Catch-Up: 17 October 2019

Join us for our weekly live broadcast 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. This week our Talking Point is language podcasts: what are your favourite podcasts (other than Coffee Break!)? Coming up in this edition:

  • the latest episodes of our Coffee Break French, German and Italian Magazines;
  • Tune for Tuesday and Question of the Week;
  • One Minute Languages on our YouTube channel;
  • news of Mark’s involvement at the Sound Education conference at Harvard University.

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.

CBF Mag 1.09 | Non, rien de rien …

An extraordinary voice and life story filled with success and tragedy in almost equal measure, the “Little Sparrow” is the focus of this episode of the Coffee Break French Magazine. Edith Piaf is known as one of the most widely known French singers, and you’ll learn more about her life and work in this episode.

CBG Mag 1.04 | Ein bisschen Schlager muss sein

We have a musical episode of the Coffee Break German Magazine for you today: our theme is Schlager, an immensely popular style of music with catchy melodies and happy-go-lucky lyrics. Find out more about this cultural phenomenon, and learn about reflexive verbs and using the perfect or Präteritum with als.

CBI Mag 1.08 | A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale

In this episode of the Coffee Break Magazine we’re heading to the north of Italy to the town of Ivrea, known for its peculiar way of celebrating Carnevale. Our listener’s question in this episode comes from Zack and concerns the tricky word mica which seems to pepper the conversation of native speakers, but is difficult to use as a learner.

Behind the Scenes: the new Coffee Break Video Studio

Over the past few weeks we’ve been building our new video studio, the Coffee Break “Kitchen”, where we’re going to be filming lots of new Coffee Break videos for language-learners. These mini language lessons will help you build your knowledge, develop your vocabulary, and increase your understanding of grammar.

We wanted to design a place where our learners can join us for a “coffee break”, so we’ve built the studio set in the style of a kitchen or a coffee shop. There are coffee-themed accessories, and if we open the jars of coffee beans, the studio even smells of coffee when we’re filming!

For anyone interested in the technical side of our setup, we’re using PTZ Optics cameras which allow us to set particular angles, depending on who’s presenting or how many presenters we have, and we can change these angles with a simple press of a button on the remote control. We’re using a BlackMagic Design ATEM Video Studio HD switcher which allows us to bring in the SDI input from our cameras, plus additional HDMI inputs from a MacBook and an iPad for demonstrating what’s on screen in a presentation or demo of the site. We’re also using BlackMagic Design HyperDeck Studio Minis to allow us to record the output of each camera individually, or the composite output from our switcher.

For the image switching and camera positioning, we’re using the Elgato Streamdeck with Companion software which allows us to switch between different combinations of camera angles and switch between the cameras on the ATEM switcher. For live video, we use an additional MacBook Pro with Ecamm Live software, and this is controlled by a second Streamdeck using the standard Streamdeck software to control Ecamm Live.

Sound wise we’re not quite there yet! Since the HyperDeck Studio Minis and the ATEM switcher have quite loud fans, we’re trying to minimise the noise in the room by using lav mics rather than the Rode NTG2 mic which is currently installed in the boom stand above our breakfast bar. We’ve plugged everything into a Rodecaster Pro which is connected directly to the ATEM switcher and we’re using the additional headphone outputs to send audio to the individual cameras so that we can record each camera individually and have a sound feed for syncing in post production.

Of course the main aim with our new studio is to use it both for live production and for recorded videos. We’re really looking forward to bringing you new Coffee Break content across all our languages, and we hope that you enjoy this and find it useful in your language learning!