Meet the team: Francesca

Francesca imageCiao, I’m Francesca and, as you can guess, I’m Italian! I’m a teacher of Italian as foreign language and I have been in this profession for over a decade. I joined Radio Lingua in 2014 when I witnessed the birth of Coffee Break Italian! I assisted Mark in the production of Season 1 and at the moment I’m contributing to the development of Season 2.

What is your role in Coffee Break?

My role is varied as I am not only the Italian voice you hear in the podcasts, but I also deal with the design of course outlines and content. In other words, I’m in charge of deciding which grammar points, vocabulary and communicative situations are presented in each episode of Coffee Break Italian. I also enjoy the Radio Lingua team at events where we get to know our listeners and tell them more about language learning.

Francesca and Pierre-Benoît at the Language Show in London

What experience have you had speaking and learning other languages?

I started learning English in Italy when I was about 11 and it was love at first sight! I think it gave me a new identity and a different way of looking at the world so I decided that I would have never abandon it. When it came to choosing my secondary school, I opted for Liceo Linguistico where, amongst other subjects and English, I learned French, German and Latin. I studied English and Russian at the University of Trieste, where I specialised in Translation and Interpreting. As part of my degree I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend some time abroad: I did my Erasmus year near London and I took part in an exchange programme with the Moscow State Linguistic University. I must say that my love for foreign languages includes my own beautiful Italian which I have been teaching for years after specialising in Teaching Italian as a Foreign Language at the University of Siena. I taught Italian in Kiev for a year and I have been teaching Italian in Scotland since 2009. I never tire of learning new things about languages and at the moment I’m trying to master Spanish.

Francesca in Ukraine
Francesca in Ukraine

What are your favourite memories of working with Coffee Break?

I have so many nice memories with the lovely people of Coffee Break, but my favourite dates back to April 2016. As you might remember, Mark, Katie and I were at Lake Maggiore filming and recording the last ten episodes of Season 1 of CBI. One day we decided to visit Pettinengo, the mountain village where I grew up and where all my family live. We went around interviewing all the locals (like the pharmacist, the barista, the owner of the only food shop), chatting with all the familiar faces and visiting my parents. It was very emotional for me being back home and listening to the tales (and jokes!) that everyone had to tell. Despite being away from Pettinengo for so long, on that occasion I felt I belonged there and I could never thank Mark enough for giving me such a privileged way to rediscover my roots!

Interviewing native speakers on the shores of Lake Orta

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

I would love a coffee break with the Italian writer Andrea Camilleri in a remote Sicilian village at the seaside. If accompanied by traditional paste di mandorla (soft almond biscuits), even better!

What’s your best language-learning tip?

Language learning must be a pleasure and it only happens when you are enjoying it and you are highly motivated. My tip is try not to be afraid of making mistakes and accept them as part of the learning process. Once you have overcome that barrier things will get easier. Grab every single opportunity to speak and do something with that language. Don’t leave it in the grammar book! Learning by doing is the best way to put all those hours of study into practice.

Francesca and Mark winning the British Podcast Award for Coffee Break Italian

Quick-fire round

  • Favourite language: English
  • Favourite word/phrases in that language: I have a full list of words and phrases which I love in English. Here are three of my favourite ones:
    • Bob’s your uncle!
    • Whatever!
    • Glaikit (in Scottish!)
  • Favourite film: Pane e Tulipani
  • Favourite TV show: any cooking programme
  • Favourite book: La casa de los espíritus by Isabel Allende
  • Favourite singer: Franco Battiato
  • Favourite destination: I don’t have a favourite destination I think, but that magic of abandoning mainland to reach Venice by train is unbeatable.

Do you have a message for the Coffee Break community?

If you are reading this page it’s because, like me, you are also a language enthusiast. It’s great to see that the world is not monolingual and hopefully more multilingual people will contribute to making this planet a better place where we can all learn from one another. To quote Nelson Mandela: “if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”. Obviously the same is true for women, too! Happy language learning, everyone!

14 thoughts on “Meet the team: Francesca”

  1. Ciao Francesca!
    I’ve been listening to the CBI podcast since Season 1, and just want to say how much I appreciate what you (and Mark & Isla) are doing. Your program is so well-presented, and the lessons are both useful and enjoyable. Please keep up the excellent work!! As I learn more about Coffee Break Languages and Radiolingua, I am more and more impressed with the content and approach. Please pass on my thanks to the rest of your team as well (especially Isla who is doing great!).
    Grazie a tutti!
    -Lisa Venticinque
    St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

  2. Ciao Francesca,
    I agree whole-heartedly with Lisa Venticinque, including her shout-out to Isla. I have always had a difficult time with languages, and even after I signed up for Season 2 of Coffee Break Italian, I kept putting off really committing myself to it. But once I started, I was entranced! Having been a teacher myself, I can really appreciate the way in which you are presenting the material. It is clean, to the point, presented with good humor, and memorable.

    Also, I am now living in Sicily and have been stumbling along for some time with my Italian, but these lessons are giving me the confidence I need to talk more with my neighbors, so I thank you for that.

    And finally, hooray for your mention of Andrea Camilleri. I saw him last night on RAI 1 at the beginning of the most recent episode of Montalbano, and I caught some of his words and phrases, but I longed to fully understand what he was saying. Even more motivation to stay involved in Coffee Break Italian Season 2 and to look forward to Seasons 3 and forward. May Camilleri live to be a hundred!

    Thank you again for your professionalism and excellent work. Grazie a tutti!

  3. Ciao Francesca! Io sono Eva di Messico, ascolto CBI tutte le mattine per cominciare il mio giorno. Ho imparato molto l´ítaliano in soli due mesi con voi, mi piace molto il suo podcast, avete una bellisima voce. Voglio ringraziarvi e congratularmi con voi per il vostro lavoro.
    Salve a tutti!

  4. Yo i gotta say so far this is the best way for me to relearn My Italian. I am an Italian well Sicilian from Brooklyn New York and our Italian is wrong lol. It’s more of Italian American slang. Like fugazi means fake or oobatz means crazy so Thank Yous

  5. I just stayed listening to CBI and am totally hooked! It is charming, informative, warm and funny. I love it! I live in Chicago, Il now but spent two years in Bologna as a student in the 70’s. I learned Italian quite well since my Italian boyfriend at that time, Piero, spoke no English. Thank you Mark and Francesca for this lovely podcast!!! Mi piace tantissimo!

  6. Ciao Francesca! Thank you for sharing your time and love of the Italian language. Your participation in this project has helped me in my process of learning the beautiful italian language. Also, your suggestion to accept mistakes and use every opportunity to use what is learned is something that I do everyday. Thank you!

  7. Since the pandemic I’ve been through the Italian magazine, Travel Diaries, and am now at lesson #27 in Season 2. Starting with the Italian magazine was tough even though I had some prior Italian. I love them all! I surely hope you will have a Season 3 soon. Don’t know what I’ll do without another. I’ve been through the 10 episodes of the magazine 3 times and the Travel diaries twice. You are all terrific!
    Grazie mille….


Leave a Comment