Bonjour, my name is Sophie and I’ve been working with the team since September 2019. I am half Belgian (from my father’s side) and my mother is half American, half Colombian. This means I was lucky to grow up in a multi-lingual family. I am from Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium, so my French might be slightly different from the standard Parisian in terms of certain expressions and numbers. I am currently studying Film and Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, and I love to explore philosophy in other languages as well as watch foreign films.
What is your role in Coffee Break?
I work with the Coffee Break French team and the main things I do are the weekly Facebook posts for the official page, write grammar points for Season 1 and create texts. I love helping out the team when necessary and look forward to recording some of my work.
What experience have you had speaking and learning other languages?
Thanks to my family, I grew up speaking French and English, but most of my environment was Francophone. I had the chance to go to an international school from nine to seventeen, where I could practise English outside of the household. That’s where I was taught Dutch, as all other Belgians citizens, who share the country with the Flemish. At sixteen, having even more luck come my way, I got selected to go on an ‘Erasmus +’ exchange for three months in Andalusia, Spain. Both scary and enriching, this experience allowed me to communicate practically fluently with my Colombian relatives. At university, I decided to make the most of my time and signed up for an intensive German course and a more laid-back Italian evening class. I am not comfortable speaking in these languages yet, but I grasp a lot of what is going on and I find that opens many doors.
What are your favourite memories working with Coffee Break?
In the little time I have been working here, one of the most welcoming, warming memories I usually think of before coming into the office on a crisp day is the excellent coffee waiting for me as well as some of Catriona’s homemade snacks. There’s always something tempting there! On a more professional note, I don’t really have a distinct memory, but rather a wonderful general feeling of being welcomed, accepted and challenged in just the right way. It’s lovely to hear some of Mark and Pierre-Benoît’s jokes and overall wit.
Where would your ideal coffee break be and with whom?
It would have to be with my Colombian Grandfather, in my mother’s childhood home in Medellín. I have never met him but heard enough stories to want to have a hilarious and meaningful chat with him. He was the kind of man who could really take a break, be in the moment and with the person in front of him. He took things seriously when necessary but knew how to lighten the mood, and I feel that that is strongly reflected in Radio Lingua.
What’s your best language learning tip?
Make sure you are motivated! I learned Dutch not being very motivated and didn’t make any progress, and Spanish with so much drive that I became fluent. One of the key things is to be interested in the culture of the language you’re interested in, and to me that also means absorbing any cultural aspect. I’ve found that watching films and TV shows with subtitles in the original version is an effective and fun way to progress.
• Favourite language: le français!
• Favourite word/phrase: Spanish: Maldito huevo / German: Schreklich
• Favorite film: English: Pride and Prejudice (Joe Wright, 2005) French: Astérix et Obelix Mission Cléopatre (Alain Chabat, 2002)
• Favourite TV show: I can always count on ‘Friends’ to keep my happy but I also like something dramatic such as ‘Gran Hotel’ in Spanish.
• Favourite singer: Ella Fitzgerald (and for live music, my father)
• Favourite destination: there’s no place like home, so my small village in Belgium in my family home, at the back of the quiet garden with a small river flowing.
Please finish off with a message to the Coffee Break community.
Languages makes my life better, and I want to share with my fellow Coffee Breakers that listening to songs over and over and watching TV and films in the language you’re learning will make the whole process so much more fun and culturally enriching. Enjoy!