Meet the team: Catriona

I’m Catriona and I’m the Co-Director at Radio Lingua. I studied French and German and then Law at Glasgow University, where I met Mark. After graduating there, I went on to study Teacher Training for secondary school and taught for 5 years in Ayrshire and Glasgow. I miss pupils and some parts of life in a school, but I love the flexibility and challenges that this job offers me now, not to mention how well it fits in with family life. I’ve been back to teach a couple of times in schools and it’s good to keep up-to-date with what’s happening, especially when our own children are at that stage in life, but it’s also good being able to communicate a love of languages and learning with all the Coffee Break learners too, just in a different way. I work between our home and the office in Glasgow.

What is your role in Coffee Break?

On a daily basis, I deal with customer queries and enjoy welcoming new learners to the worldwide Coffee Break community. I liaise with all of the Coffee Break Team, in Scotland and overseas, whether working remotely, or in our office in Glasgow. Together with Mark and the Coffee Break Team, I help create policies relating to the business, discuss how the company might expand and deal with issues of providing great customer service, help create new courses and am involved in writing lesson notes. I should maybe say at this point that Mark is my husband – 22 years now! I am also part of the CBG Team and enjoy playing a part in creating something that I know will be used by learners. Together with Kristina, our Operations Manager, we deal with HR matters in the Coffee Break Team and are involved in the continuing professional and personal development of Team members. I really enjoy working with all our learners and our Team here.

What experience have you had speaking and learning other languages?

I think I first got into languages when two German boys came to our school and I had just started to study German. Steffen and Curt made it all seem a bit more real and we stayed in touch for years after they left and we visited them in Germany and Switzerland. Later on, I studied French and German at Glasgow University and became a secondary teacher of Modern Languages in Ayrshire and Glasgow. During my time at Uni, I spent a very happy year living in Austria, which also fuelled a love of travel. Holidays with my family now are a great way to keep motivated in my ongoing learning of Spanish and any other languages of places we visit.

What are your favourite memories of working with RLN?

Some favourite memories include when Mark first started Radio Lingua. It was a sort of experiment to see how many people he could teach and share his love of languages with, using the then new technology that was pod-casting. I love that Coffee Break Languages has grown to a small, but highly effective team, who communicate well with a global reach, and feel we know many of our learners in the Coffee Break community well, though we don’t meet them in person. Obviously, social events with the CB Team are great fun, but also taking part in the some of the Trade events where we do get to meet learners, particularly (for me) teachers and pupils who love to tell us how they use our resources in the classroom.

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

My ideal Coffee Break would possibly be in Mallorca and, if Mark was busy, then Hugh Jackman could study Spanish with me. I understand that Colin Firth is quite fluent in Italian so I would also enjoy a coffee break with him on a Greek island with the cast and musicians of Mamma Mia. Really, with Mark and our children wherever we are on holiday, relaxing, in the sun, playing crazy golf, reading, just being together and switching off for a wee while.

What’s your best language-learning tip?

For me, taking 5 minutes at the end of the day to write down new vocabulary I’ve across in the language I’m learning. If you haven’t encountered any new words that day in the language you’re learning, write down 5 words in English that you want to know how to say in the language. Also, never worry about making mistakes. That’s how we learn.

Quick-fire round

  • Favourite language: at the moment, Spanish
  • Favourite word/phrase in the language – mariposa (I like another word too because of the way it sounds, but it is not printable!)/ unternehmungslustig
  • Favourite film: La vita è bella
  • TV show: Sé quién eres / The Big Bang Theory
  • Book: En Man som heter Ove
  • Favourite destination  Mallorca for sun and relaxation / Iceland for adventures / Italy for pretty countryside / Spain for food and the markets

Do you have a message for the Coffee Break Community?

Learning a new language is much easier than say, sticking to a diet. Though I’m sure the two combined could bring huge feelings of success! It’s never too late to start and it can lead to great benefits when travelling, global friendships, as well as all the other obvious plus points. Find a way that works for you – we’re all different – and then stick to it. Once you’ve learned one language, tackling another is often easier.

1 thought on “Meet the team: Catriona”

  1. I remember I received a very helpful reply from Catriona a couple of years ago when I asked about the Coffee Break German curriculum. It is nice to put a face to the name and learn more about Catriona. I enjoy all the “Meet the team…” articles even if I don’t always/often comment on them. Thank you.


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