Meet Sarah, Coffee Break French 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 25 year old actress from England living in London and I’ve been learning with Coffee Break for about a month. I actually started the course last year but didn’t find the time to commit to it properly until last month!

Which language or languages are you learning with Coffee Break?


What experience have you had speaking and learning other languages? 

I learnt French for 2 years at school and German for 4 years so I have a very basic understanding of those languages but before this course, I could not hold much conversation in either! Despite always wanting to learn another language, I have never really spent much substantial time abroad in a non-English speaking country, nor have I put much effort into learning! Then a couple of years ago, one of my best friends began dating a Parisian and through him I’ve made some great French-speaking friends and have been spending more and more time in Paris. His sister recently asked me to look after her apartment in Paris for a month while she is away, so it seems that now is a perfect time to learn French! Finally!

What are your favourite memories of learning a language? 

Sending a text in French to one of my new friends in Paris (who is very kind and always messages me in English) for them to reply with shocked face emojis telling me I had written ‘A PERFECT FRENCH SENTENCE!!’. I asked him to keep messaging me in French and he keeps being impressed with my progress!

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

I want to speak perfect French to a journalist on the Cannes red carpet when I am interviewed about one of the featured films I am starring in.

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

I always write the PDF notes out by hand into my own note book after each lesson, which I keep in my handbag, and I make as much pointless text-conversation with my French friend as possible!

Quick Fire Round

  • Your favourite language: French
  • Your favourite word or phrase in the language: So far? C’est ton tour !
  • Do you have a favourite film, TV show, book or singer in the language? Not yet, but I love listening to the song Plus Je t’embrasse. 
  •  Your favourite destination to practise your language: Paris

Your final comments

I am so happy and grateful that Coffee Break exists! You are making me feel like I might actually, maybe, possibly, one day, be able to speak French to someone in Paris without being spoken back to in English!!


CBC 1.36 | Zhèbiān qǐng, shìyījiān zài nà biān

In this lesson Mark and Hongyu are going shopping. In the first shop, Mark wants to buy some postcards, and in the second shop Mark is looking for a new shirt. This lesson gives us the opportunity to review shopping vocabulary and will help you practise the transactional words and phrases covered in previous lessons. As usual, Crystal is in the studio to help you understand everything.

CBI 2.40 | Ognuno vivrà l’estate che aveva sognato

And so our series, and our soap opera, reach their conclusion and we’re delighted to bring you episode 40 of Coffee Break Italian Season 2. In this episode you’ll enjoy the finale of La Mia Estate and, as ever, Mark and Francesca are on hand to help you understand everything. We hope you’ve enjoyed this second season of Coffee Break Italian!

Learn French in your Coffee Break, and save 20% at this year’s France Show

Date: 25 January 2019

Radio Lingua Ltd is pleased to announce that it is exhibiting at this year’s France Show at London’s Olympia. Visitors to the show will be able to experience first hand how it is possible to learn French in their coffee break. The Radio Lingua team will be on hand to demonstrate the resources which make learning a language as easy as pouring yourself a cup of coffee. An exclusive 20% discount on all courses is being offered to visitors to stand L91.

“We’re delighted to be back at the France Show this year, and are looking forward to meeting many visitors who are passionate about all things French,” said Mark Pentleton, Managing Director or Radio Lingua. “The key to appreciating French culture is, of course, learning some of the language, and we’re looking forward to demonstrating our Coffee Break courses, and helping people realise that learning a language does not necessarily mean attending an evening class on a cold winter’s evening. With Coffee Break French you can learn where and when it suits you. It’s like having a teacher in your pocket.”

Coffee Break French is part of the family of Coffee Break Languages courses. Learners can download free podcasts or use a paid online course which features bonus audio materials, video content and lesson notes. The Coffee Break Languages podcasts are consistently in the top education podcasts on iTunes, and every month over 2 million free language lessons are delivered to learners around the world who want to learn a language in their Coffee Break.

An exclusive 20% discount on all courses including Coffee Break French, the Reading Club and the High Five French course for younger learners is available to learners who purchase on the stand during the France Show 2019.

 In addition to exhibiting at the France Show, Managing Director and host teacher Mark Pentleton will be presenting in the Language and Travel Forum on Friday at 3pm, Saturday at 12:00pm and Sunday at 2:40pm. Mark’s presentation will give learners tips on how they can “turn their downtime into their ‘do’ time”, using opportunities throughout the day to learn and practise their French. Mark said, “learning a language can change your life, but it need not take over your life. We want to encourage learners to use the short periods time they have available throughout the day to introduce the language into their lives.”

To find out more about Coffee Break French visit

About Radio Lingua

Radio Lingua Ltd ( has been delivering languages education since 2006. Based in Glasgow, Scotland, Radio Lingua produces Coffee Break courses in French, Spanish, German, Italian and Mandarin Chinese, and other short courses in over 30 languages. Working in conjunction with experienced teachers and native speakers, the small core team of 10 employees are dedicated to helping language learners around the world develop a passion for language learning.

France Show 2019 – Press Release

Meet Fabrice, Coffee Break Spanish and Chinese learner

This week, we’re chatting to Fabrice, a 54 year old Parisian. Having previously lived in London, he has now settled in America, where he has been living since 1998. As a keen traveller, Fabrice realises the importance of speaking a foreign language when attempting to discover another culture. Having tackled Spanish, Fabrice decided to challenge himself further by learning Chinese with Coffee Break.

We began our chat by discussing Fabrice’s initial impressions of Coffee Break: “The reviews I read were really really good. It was also free – you can’t do worse than that! So, I started listening I think at the gym which was interesting because I’d tried podcasts walking my dog and at the gym before and it never really worked for me, I don’t know why. I think Coffee Break is more like a story. The way Mark explains things makes you listen. It’s not like some other podcasts that just throw a lot of stuff and then that’s it. Mark goes into a lot of detail in everything and that gets your attention, so it’s the only one I’ve been able to use at the gym”. 

When Fabrice started learning Spanish with Coffee Break, he immediately clicked with the method of learning: “I loved the explanations from Mark. He was brilliant at explaining the subjunctive – I know he loves the subjunctive! Even though I’m French so I know what a subjunctive is, but the way he was explaining it was amazing! I loved the stories and how that worked. I was following the lessons almost everyday. Then I got a subscription to the premium version so that I could get the bonus materials, and then I continued with seasons 3 and 4. I’m still at season 4. I wouldn’t say I’m fluent, I’d never say I’m fluent but I’’m pretty good at Spanish now. I believe that Coffee Break Spanish was part of it”. 

With lots of Mexicans where he lives in San Diego, Fabrice decided that learning Spanish would be beneficial: “I thought you know I’m about 15km from the border, I like going there for dinner – it’s cool going to another country just for dinner! Then I wanted to be able to communicate with them, learn their language as when you start learning a language, you start learning the country that goes with it, so that was very important for me. Unfortunately Mexicans, especially Mexicans on the border, speak some kind of Spanglish! It’s hard to follow them, but now I’m able to have a conversation with them (and) I’m able to order food”.

He recalls his trip to Uruguay after learning Spanish with Coffee Break for 8 months: “I dived in and hoped for the best –  and it worked so well! Sometimes it was difficult, like every language when you start saying: Hablo un poquito, they’re like ‘Oh you can speak the language!’, so they start speaking to you in the language! So, I was very very happy with the results”. Encouraged by the success of his trip, Fabrice decided to push himself further by setting himself the goal of sitting the A2 exam: “I passed that then I worked towards the B1 exam. I went to Colombia to take it and I passed, so that gave me confidence. Afterwards I thought, you know what I really enjoy this, I could maybe learn another language, so then I looked at the possible languages”.

After much contemplation, Fabrice decided to start learning Chinese. As Coffee Break Chinese didn’t exist when Fabrice began learning the language, he used other language-learning methods initially. However, when Coffee Break Chinese launched, Fabrice used the lessons as a way of reviewing and consolidating what he’d already learned. He told us all about his method of language learning: “I take one method for about 6 months, then I take another method and I start from the beginning. That gives me different perspectives on learning the language. All these methods are completely different, so it reinforces what I’ve already learned, but the information is a little bit different which is good for my brain…I continue in parallel with two methods so I’ve got 6 months, and 6 months, and then I have a third one and then a fourth one…. I’ve got four methods on the go at the same time. I always start from the beginning, (of any course) that’s how I work….I get a really good foundation with this method”.

Fabrice found the Coffee Break Chinese lessons very user friendly: “When I started Coffee Break Chinese I was very happy to see there were videos, especially with the use of the characters. This time Mark was not a teacher, he was a student so I was wondering if it was going to be slower or faster. The first lessons were obviously very easy for me as I’m a bit more advanced, but hearing Mark struggling with some things reminded me (of myself) struggling on the exact same things. So again I felt that connection which is very important. Another thing about the way I learn is that I need someone to tell me what to do. There is another podcast which I know of, but there is no structure which makes it difficult for me to know where to begin. That’s what I like with Coffee Break, there’s a structure, you’re going from A to B. So, that’s what I do with Coffee Break Chinese. I start with the video then I look at the notes then I go to the bonus material. I sit looking at the notes and then I listen to the video, but then I walk back and forth because it’s too easy to be in front of the computer and pause. I force myself to get that answer as fast as I can. I use Coffee Break Chinese slightly differently to how I used Coffee Break Spanish (which I used at the gym). I really have to concentrate when I’m learning Chinese. Whereas I’m much more confident with Spanish. When I get to intermediate level with Chinese I’ll probably do the same thing, listen at the gym”.

Fabrice attributes the success of Coffee Break to the length of the lessons: “A Coffee Break lesson is about 20 mins or 30 mins and then the bonus materials last about 15 minutes – this is perfect timing. I can’t go beyond 30 minutes. I also like the fact that there’s a break and then 15 more minutes. I really like that timing. I wouldn’t want to have more than that”.

We rounded off our chat by discussing the opportunities Fabrice has gained from learning languages with Coffee Break: “I was actually promoted as I was able to take customer support emails in Spanish, so thanks Coffee Break Spanish for that! My boss is waiting for me to be able to do the same thing in Chinese! The other thing also is that learning a language opens doors to the world. After learning Spanish I’ve had the chance to visit almost every country in South America, discovering new cultures and new people  – I love it! I also went to China for the first time in my life in March this year. I was able to speak Chinese  and they could understand me which was amazing. I knew nothing about Asian culture, but I travelled to 5 different cities in China and absolutely loved it. The people were so nice!”

He recalls a memorable experience: “When I went to San Diego to get my Chinese visa, the guy was not even looking at me and then, I don’t remember what I said but it was a very small sentence in Chinese, and his face suddenly lit up and he said ‘Oh you know a little bit of Chinese?’ and I said ‘I’m learning, I want to visit your country!’ He was very impressed. Speaking another language really does make a big difference for people”.


CBG 2.40 | Wie wäre es mit Donnerstagabend?

It’s time for the final lesson in our series, and the last instalment of our soap opera. Listen to the lesson to find out what comes of our friends in the Wohngemeinschaft, and whether Phillip and Hanna ever get together! As usual, the episode is rich in complex German and Andrea is on hand to help you understand everything. We hope you’ve enjoyed this series!

En Marcha con Coffee Break Spanish: Season 1 Preview

Join Mark and the Coffee Break Spanish team “en marcha” in the south of Spain. In this season preview, Mark introduces the new show and you’ll hear excerpts from some of the many interviews we’ve carried out in the area surrounding the city of Málaga in the region of Andalucía. We’ll be talking to people who live or work in the area, and to people who are visiting the area. These conversations feature authentic Spanish, with a whole range of different accents and speeds of delivery, so it’s the perfect way to improve your listening comprehension.

For the full online course which includes transcripts, bonus audio materials, exercises, vocabulary lists and exclusive video content, please click here.

Meet Barbara, a 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.

I am Barbara, I live in Idaho, USA. I started studying the free Coffee Break episodes in 2010 when I retired from my career as a speech-language pathologist. Going back to work a few years later put my lessons on hold. Three years ago I started Coffee Break Italian, but again, work intervened. Last month I started French again and subscribed to get the bonus materials. As much as I love learning Italian, I was frustrated that I have no one with whom to speak in my small, rural town. With French, I can speak with my sister long distance and a friend in the neighbourhood.

Which language or languages are you learning with Coffee Break?

French and Italian

What experience have you had speaking and learning other languages?

French (fourth grade), German (two years in high school), American Sign Language (ASL) in college, Spanish (community classes and work site).  My mother and sister also studied French, my brother studied German in college and during a semester in Kiel, Germany. My own family has had five exchange students and have visited them in Germany and Denmark. My son now lives in Münich, Germany and since my daughter-in-law is from El Salvador, my two grandsons are attaining tri-lingual skills.  My husband and I have been on tours in Austria, Austria, and northern Italy.

What are your favourite memories of learning a language?

Since my skills are at such a basic level, being able to order food and ask for directions has been important in our travels. (No chicken pizza for us!) Learning the grammar and vocabulary patterns and discovering similarities between them is delightful! My confidence in speaking is low but I want to take these endeavours to a higher level!

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

Good question!  For Italian, I want to return to I Dolomiti in northern Italy, meet my grandsons for a week of hiking and exploring! For French, to spend a week in Provence with a friend, sampling foods, wines, scenery.

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

Reviewing each lesson at least twice, writing a short dialogue with those vocabulary items and incorporate previous lessons.

Quick Fire Round

  • Your favourite language: Italian
  • Your favourite word or phrase in the language: Ho bisogno …
  • Do you have a favourite film, TV show, book or singer in the language? Not yet!
  • Your favourite destination to practise your language: Bolzano, gateway to I Dolomiti, such beautiful mountains!

Any final comments?

Learning a new language is such an epic experience, whether one travels or not!  The Coffee Break Academy with Mark and his talented crew is a fun and challenging way to bring the world to you!


Would you like to be featured?

We’re always interested to hear about learners have been using Coffee Break. If you have an interesting story, please let us know. We’ll get in touch and we could possibly feature you in a future “Meet the CoffeeBreakers” post or Coffee Break Conversations episode.

CBC 1.35 | Nín xūyào shénme bāngzhù?

One of the most common experiences for any tourist visiting a foreign country is having to ask for information. In episode 35 of Coffee Break Chinese, Mark and Hongyu go to a tourist information office to ask for for information about a particular tourist attraction in Beijing, practising vocabulary learned in previous lessons. As usual, Crystal is on hand in the studio to help us understand everything.

CBI 2.39 | Che scenetta romantica …

In the previous instalment of La Mia Estate which featured in episode 38 of Coffee Break Italian, we left our characters at a dramatic point. In episode 39, it’s time to see if the night of Ferragosto will help to thaw relations and if the stars finally align for Riccardo and Maria – and for Giorgio and Mia! As usual Francesca and Mark are on hand to discuss the language contained in the episode.

Meet Stephen, a Coffee Break French learner

Stephen, a 68 year old retired fine arts teacher from California, has been long term member of the Coffee Break community. He recently told us all about his language learning journey, starting with where his love of French began: “I’m an amateur wine maker and I started out just being a wine lover and I like French-style wines. As I neared the point of retirement, I said to my wife, ‘I really wanted to go to France and taste wine’. And she said, ‘alright, the Fall after you retire, we’ll go’. So, within the year I got retired and sure enough we went. As soon as my daughter heard we were going, she sent me a package of 5 Pimsleur lessons. I’ve been learning French ever since. We’ve been back to France twice now. The first time I went I wanted to be able to speak French to French winemakers but I was pretty much limited to bonjour and au revoir. I’ve fallen in love with French and I love French culture”. 

Stephen reveals that Coffee Break French is now the main resource he uses to learn the language.“If I had to say one source for learning French, it would be CBF … I keep sending people there. I’m dabbling a little bit in Spanish because in southern California we’re almost bilingual. Basically, my major focus is on French. I belong to a French Meet-Up. That’s a formalised group that meets a couple of times a month to go back and forth in French. It was kinda fun because a couple of the members are native French speakers. I use that, but it always goes back to the same thing, CBF teaches me and challenges me above my current performance level, and, as a teacher, I know if you want somebody to grow, you gotta make’em reach. So, I’m always stretching to keep up”. 

He also uses an number of other resources to compliment the podcasts: “CBF is my primary instructional source for French. … I read my niece’s High School French textbook and I subscribe to TV 5 Monde on Cable TV. I listen to the News in Slow French and I read a few children’s books. I translated my grandson’s copy of The Cat in the Hat. Right now I’m wading through ‘Le Petit Prince’”.

Stephen explains how he discovered Coffee Break French: “I went searching for French-speaking clubs and found the Meet Up and and then found CBF. I did 1, 2 and 3 and at the end of 3, I realised I needed the extra content that they’re giving in the bonus, in the premium version. So, I bought the premium version and it was well-worth the purchase. I realised, I’ve got these things permanently, I don’t need to print them out! I can just pull’em up and look at it! The thing that got me to CBF was when I stumbled across ‘Walk, Talk and Learn French’”.

Stephen often listens to the podcasts while he is walking his dog: “I’m taking a walk that’s usually the same route and it’s always the same number of people that I see and know, and I’m blathering away in French or listening to it at least,….I also have it rigged so that I can play it on the Bluetooth in my car. I will occasionally, with the Masterclass, plug it in and listen to it on my desktop computer. I find that my attention focuses better if I’m engaged in some other activity. If what I’m doing doesn’t have variety in it, then I start to get bored and my attention drifts”. 

Stephen has to head off to do some supply teaching, drawing our chat to a close. However, before he leaves, he positively sums up his experience with Coffee Break: “I really, really value the in-depth explanations of various grammar issues. It allows me to put it in the context of a sentence. And it’s very useful, the little brief asides that are made culture and the cultural context of the language. When I was in meetings with the Meet Up group I ran into one woman from South Africa so, she has a way of speaking French and I have connections-in-law that are Québecois and they’ll correct me. But mostly having Mark’s commentary on cultural context, how this fits in the culture and why this means something in French culture, really matters to me. He made a comment just the other day on the latest episode of Masterclass, when. He did episode 6 about leaving ne out of negations, je sais pas like that.  I feel like I have made terrific progress and I give the credit to Mark because he makes it entertaining. It’s got variety, it suits me in a place, it seems real. I think his instincts and the directions he’s going are the right directions”.

CBG 2.39 | Wie viele Punkte muss man haben, um zu bestehen?

We’re back with another episode of Coffee Break German, the penultimate lesson of this season, and the penultimate instalment of our soap opera. This week Carola and Hanna are stressed about their exam preparation and enlist the help of their friend Sybille. Carola also has some words of wisdom to share with Hanna following the latest meeting with Phillip and Alex. As usual, this episode provides plenty of opportunities to investigate interesting language, including some tricky aspects of grammar!