CBG Travel Diaries 2.02 | Da würde ich so gerne hoch!

We’re back with the second episode of the Coffee Break German Travel Diaries, Season 2. This time, Karl and Birgit see the sites of Cologne and enjoy a view of the city from a modern high-rise building – Ein Blick aus der Höhe! Join hosts Mark and Andrea in this episode and learn some useful adverbs and vocabulary related to tourism.

The podcast episodes will be published weekly from 23rd April. However, if you’d like to binge the entire season then you can access all 10 episodes on the Coffee Break Academy. Our premium version includes lesson notes with additional examples and explanations of the language in each lesson, and a pronunciation practice video to help you improve your speaking. Click here to access the course on the Coffee Break Academy.

CBS Travel Diaries 2.02 | Curiosidades en Cuzco

In this second episode from Season 2 of the Coffee Break Spanish Travel Diaries, we’re discovering what the city of Cuzco has to offer. We visit the famous piedra de 12 ángulos before stopping off at the Mercado de San Pedro for a food tour. Along the way, we hear many interesting grammar points, including examples of the imperfect and preterite tense. Join hosts Mark and Marina as they explore the language featured in the latest travel diary entry.

The podcast episodes will be published weekly from 22nd April. However, if you’d like to binge the entire season then you can access all 10 episodes on the Coffee Break Academy. Our premium version includes lesson notes with additional examples and explanations of the language in each lesson, and a pronunciation practice video to help you improve your speaking. Click here to access the course on the Coffee Break Academy.

5 Films for Spanish Learners

¿Vemos una peli? Choosing a film to watch in the language you’re learning can be quite an overwhelming task. Certain foreign-language films may not be as well-known in your country as English-language films, so it’s often hard to know where to even start your search. To help you narrow down your list, we’ve come up with five films for Spanish learners. The films in these lists haven’t simply been selected because they are easy to understand for Spanish learners, but rather because they each bring something beneficial to the life of a Spanish learner. From interesting pieces of cultural knowledge and stunning scenery across the Spanish speaking world, to varied Spanish accents and beautiful storylines, these five films showcase the richness and variety of Spanish-language cinema.

Depending on your level as a learner, you can choose to watch these films with no subtitles, with Spanish subtitles, or with English subtitles, if these options are available to you. The films selected in this list were all released within the last two decades, meaning that they can all be found easily on either major steaming platforms, or on DVD. Whatever your viewing preferences, regularly immersing yourself in the Spanish language for an hour or two through films will do wonders for your Spanish skills: you’ll almost subconsciously pick up new vocabulary and grammatical structures while watching.

Now, before we get started, we’d like to teach you a quick language point. Did you notice the title of this blog article? The phrase de cine can mean ‘of the cinema’ or ‘to do with cinema’ but it can also mean ‘amazing’! So, for example, you can say lo pasé de cine en la playa, which would mean “I had an amazing time at the beach”. We hope your experience watching the films below is de cine! ¡Vamos a empezar! ¡Vamos a empezar!

1. Julieta (2016) – Pedro Almodóvar

No list of great Spanish films would be complete without including a film by the illustrious Spanish director, Pedro Almodóvar. Known for putting strong female leads in the spotlight of his films, Almodóvar’s 2016 drama Julieta is no different, while also displaying the director’s trademark mixture of melodrama and the use of bright colour. More subdued than Almodóvar classics like Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios and Todo sobre mi madre, this film follows a brokenhearted woman who attempts to re-establish her relationship with her estranged daughter. Spanish learners will benefit from the clear Castilian Spanish spoken by the titular character, Julieta, and will enjoy the glimpses of majestic Madrid, where she lives in the film.

2. No se aceptan devoluciones (2013) – Eugenio Derbez

The next film on our list is the Mexican comedy-drama No se aceptan devoluciones, which, despite the mixed critical response the film received upon its release, became the highest grossing Mexican film of all time! Set in Acapulco, Mexico, the plot follows partygoer and bachelor Valentín, whose life changes completely when a young daughter he didn’t know he had is left in his care (played by bilingual child actor Loreto Peralta). If you’re looking for something light and comedic, but with a heartwarming story at its core and an unexpected twist, this is the film for you. From a language point of view, this film is perfect for learners, as the Mexican Spanish dialogue is peppered with English lines, too. For anyone interested in the differences between the Spanish spoken in Spain, and the Spanish spoken in Mexico, try watching this film, followed by a film from Spain, and think about the differences you can spot in the use of the language.

3. Cien metros (2016) – Marcel Barrena

With the tagline rendirse no es una opción (giving up isn’t an option), this next film will inspire anyone who watches it. Based on a true story, Cien metros follows the life of Ramón who, after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in his 30’s, is told he won’t be able to walk 100 metres within a year. Ramón’s response to this news is to enter a gruelling IronMan competition, for which he prepares by following a training schedule set by his eccentric, bad-tempered father-in-law. Comparisons can be drawn with this film and the French film Intouchables, which became an instant classic thanks to its heartwarming storyline. Cien metros is sure to give a burst of motivation to any Spanish learner who may have hit a wall in their language-learning journey.

4. Nueve reinas (2000) – Fabián Bielinsky

Our next film recommendation is a modern classic of Argentinian cinema. Set against the bustling backdrop of central Buenos Aires, Nueve reinas tells the story of two con-artists who attempt to pull off a large-scale scam involving a set of famous stamps known as the Nueve reinas. This fast-paced thriller stars Ricardo Darín – one of Argentina’s most prolific and talented actors – as hard-edged swindler, Marcos. From a Spanish learner’s perspective, this film is perfect for those interested in listening to colloquial Spanish spoken with the distinctive Argentinian accent, which is showcased in this multi-award-winning film.

5. Coco (2017) – Lee Unkrich

We’re ending our list with a heartwarming film which offers up something for the whole family: Pixar’s Coco. While this film might not officially be a Spanish-language film, a full Spanish version of the film can be found on the Disney Plus platform in some countries. The 2017 animation is set in Mexico and is based around the country’s famous Day of the Dead celebrations. Following the story of 12-year-old Miguel, who accidentally finds himself in the Land of the Dead, the film weaves Spanish words and phrases into the English dialogue beautifully. If you’re a parent looking to teach your children a language, this film is a great introduction to the Spanish language. This said, whether you’re a child or an adult, and whether you watch the English or the Spanish version of this film, you’ll come away with more knowledge of the Spanish language, a fascination with this beautiful aspect of Mexican culture, and a smile on your face!

¡Y ya está! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these five films for Spanish learners, and that you feel inspired to watch more Spanish-language cinema. Have you seen any of these films before? Are there any other films that you would have included in this list? If so, leave a comment below and share your recommendations with your fellow learners!

Want to watch even more foreign-language films? Click here to see our film recommendations for French, German and Italian learners too!

5 Films for Italian Learners

Films are an important language-learning tool: they present us with alternative points of view from which to admire stories set in other countries. Watching a film means immersing yourself in a different language and culture without having to take a plane, from the comfort of your own sofa. It can be challenging at times but, with the help of subtitles, it’s sure to improve your comprehension and listening skills, not to mention the hundreds of new words you will learn!

Did you know that Italy holds the record for the most Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film won by a country? This come as no great surprise, as Italian filmmakers have always influenced the world of cinema with their dramatic stories, breathtaking scenery and tragic-comic characters.

Non è stato per niente facile, but we have selected 5 of our favourite Italian films to watch for their artistic value and, above all, for their educational value. Ecco qui cinque film italiani da non perdere!

1. Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988)

This movie is an ode to the art and the power of cinema. The characters are inspiring and the story is heartwarming, not to mention the beauty of the Sicilian coast and the transcendent music score written by Ennio Morricone.

It tells the story of a friendship between Totò, a mischievous, bright boy, and Alfredo, a mechanic and projectionist. After the Second World War, cinema is the only entertainment for the people of Giancaldo, a small village in rural Sicily. The local parish hall becomes the crossroads where the villagers meet. It is here that Alfredo initiates Totò in the mysteries of the projection machine, teaching him all the skills needed to venture into the world of cinema. Once Totò is old enough, Alfredo advises him to leave his beloved village forever and pursue his dreams elsewhere. Thirty years later, when Totò’s mother informs him of Alfredo’s death, he decides to return to Giancaldo to confront his past and the people who interacted with his childhood. Cosa succederà?

2. La vita è bella (1997)

How could we not include this multi-award-winning masterpiece? The movie centres around Guido Orefice (played by Italy’s national treasure Roberto Benigni), a Tuscan man of Jewish origin, and his family. In 1944, Guido and his son Giosuè are captured by the Nazis and deported to a concentration camp. His wife Dora, despite not being Jewish, is also deported to the same place in order to join them. To protect his son from the harsh reality of life in the camp, Guido turns the tragic situation into a game. Pretending to understand German, he acts an interpreter for the prisoners and translates the rules of the camp as if they were the rules of a fantastic game of chance: if Giosuè follows the rules he will win a real tank!

La vita è bella takes us on an emotional journey into the most appalling moment of contemporary history, yet it tries to find beauty even in the darkest places, leaving us con l’amaro in bocca (with a bittersweet ending).

3. La meglio gioventù (2003)

The longest movie in this list, La meglio gioventù portrays a generation of Italian dreamers who had to come to terms with the changes happening in politics and society. It’s an elegant and positive, yet dark, depiction of Italy with a very melodramatic tone.

The film spans from the summer of 1966 to the spring of 2003, covering the most important events of those years: the Florence flood in 1966, the 1968 protests, terrorism, Tangentopoli (a web of corruption and bribes) and the mafia attacks. The story focuses on two brothers, Nicola and Matteo, as they find their way into adulthood, marriage and middle age. Nicola falls in love with Giulia, who prioritises her political beliefs over everything else in her life, whereas Matteo meets the photographer-turned-librarian Mirella. Despite sharing the same dreams when they were children, the two brothers will find themselves more distant than what they would’ve ever imagined.

4. La mafia uccide solo d’estate (2013)

Considered one of the best movies on organised crime in Sicily, La mafia uccide solo d’estate tells the story of Arturo, the child of a middle-class family in Palermo. We follow him as he tries to win the heart of his beloved Flora, a classmate with whom he fell in love in primary school. Against the backdrop of this tender and amusing story, the terrible episodes that took place in Sicily between the 1970s and 1990s unfold. Arturo is curiously obsessed with the casual presence of organised crime in his city, since the day he pronounced his first word as baby – “mafia!” – much to his parents’ surprise.

The movie talks about the victims of Cosa Nostra – such as prosecuting magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino and general Carlo Alberto Della Chiesa – and the courage of the people of Palermo to break through their silence and ask for justice. It’s a comedic, yet touching, satire of organised crime that manages to celebrate the lives of those who fought against it.

5. La grande bellezza (2013)

This is another multi-award-winning movie that conquered the world for its beauty, its poetry and its story. If you’re someone who loves history and architecture, you won’t be disappointed by this movie. The setting of this tragic-comic adventure is Rome, la Città Eterna. The camera glides through the monuments, the streets and the piazzas of this breathtakingly beautiful city. Da mozzare il fiato!

Paolo Sorrentino’s La grande bellezza is the story of a one-time author, Jep Gambardella, looking for new inspiration and, ultimately, for something that could give meaning to his life. In spite of the appreciation and prizes received for his one work L’apparato umano, he did not write any more books because of a creative block from which he cannot escape. Jep works as a journalist and theatre critic who spends most of his time attending the mundane events of the capital. After receiving the news of the death of his first (and only) love, Jep plunges into a deep state of melancholy and reassesses his world, his work and himself.

Ed ecco qua! Have you ever watched any of these films? Let us know what you think. We’re curious to read which five Italian movies you would pick, so leave us a comment below. Grazie di aver letto questo articolo e buona visione!

Want to watch even more foreign-language films? Click here to see our film recommendations for French, German and Spanish learners!

CBG Travel Diaries 2.01 | Das beste Geschenk, dass man sich wünschen kann

Welcome to Season 2 of the Coffee Break German Travel Diaries! This time, we’re joining Karl, Birgit and friends as they take a river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, through Germany and Austria to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Throughout the journey, they’ll sail on 3 rivers through 4 countries and see many cities while aboard. In this very first episode of the series, the couple leave Oberhausen and arrive in Amsterdam before boarding the ship. We hear many nautical words and phrases, river names, and vocabulary related to celebrations. As always, Coffee Break German hosts, Mark and Andrea will be on hand to help you understand the language featured in Karl’s travel diary entries. Viel Spaß an Bord!

The podcast episodes will be published weekly from 23rd April. However, if you’d like to binge the entire season then you can access all 10 episodes on the Coffee Break Academy. Our premium version includes lesson notes with additional examples and explanations of the language in each lesson, and a pronunciation practice video to help you improve your speaking. Click here to access the course on the Coffee Break Academy.

CBS Travel Diaries 2.01 | Llegada a Lima

We’re back with a second season of the Coffee Break Spanish Travel Diaries for intermediate learners of Spanish. Throughout this 10-episode series, we join Ainhoa, her friend Luisa and her brother Esteban from Spain as they travel through western South America on an adventure after finishing college. In the very first episode of the series, we’re in Lima, the capital of Peru, for a jam-packed day of sightseeing and local cuisine. We find out what the trio get up to through Ainhoa’s travel diary entry, and hosts Mark and Marina discuss the interesting language featured along the way. ¡Vámanos!

The podcast episodes will be published weekly from 22nd April. However, if you’d like to binge the entire season then you can access all 10 episodes on the Coffee Break Academy. Our premium version includes lesson notes with additional examples and explanations of the language in each lesson, and a pronunciation practice video to help you improve your speaking. Click here to access the course on the Coffee Break Academy.

CBE 1.01 | Rain in England, sun in Italy – Catriona’s holiday and the present tenses

Welcome to our new series which will help you improve your English. Episode 1 of Coffee Break English is about holidays, and our correspondent Catriona is on holiday in Italy. She compares Italy with her home town of Manchester in the UK. Join Coffee Break English teachers Josie and Mark who will help you understand all the English in this episode.

CBSw 1.26 | Varför lär du dig svenska?

Welcome back to another lesson of Coffee Break Swedish! This time, Hanna and Mark are taking a dive into some more technical aspects of the Swedish language and look at how to ask the question “why” using the word varför. We also explore the different ways in which the word order can change when we explain why we do something or why we don’t do something. Take your conversation skills to the next level with this lesson of Coffee Break Swedish!

CBI Travel Diaries 2.10 | Grazie di tutto, Trentino-Alto Adige!

It’s the 10th and final episode of the Coffee Break Italian Travel Diaries Season 2 and Simone and Anna are rounding off their trip with a visit to the city of Trento before enjoying one last traditional lunch with canederli, polenta, cheese, apple pie and bombardino. In between the food-related vocabulary featured in our final travel diary entry, Mark and Francesca discuss the pronominal verbs volerci and andarsene, the irregular noun mani and the verb mancare in the future tense. 

Our premium version of the Coffee Break Italian Travel Diaries includes lesson notes with additional examples and explanations of the language in each lesson, and a pronunciation practice video to help you improve your speaking. Click here to access the course on the Coffee Break Academy.

CBF Travel Diaries 2.10 | Tours-Paris-Genève

In the 10th and final episode from Season 2 of the Coffee Break French Travel Diaries, Charlotte, Théo and Lucas savour their last day in France before travelling back to Geneva. Join Mark and Pierre-Benoît for one last time as they discuss the interesting language points included in Charlotte’s final travel diary entry. We cover phrases like jeter un un coup d’œil à qqch and être scotché par qqch and explain the difference between quitter and partir. 

Our premium version includes lesson notes with additional examples and explanations of the language in each lesson, and a pronunciation practice video to help you improve your speaking. Click here to access the course on the Coffee Break Academy.

CBI Travel Diaries 2.09 | Tempesta sulla Marmolada

In the penultimate episode of the series, Simone and Anna are on the move again as they are hiking up Marmolada – the highest mountain of the Dolomites. Mark and Francesca pick up on many interesting grammar points along the way and discuss: dopo + past infinitive, stare + gerund, and the pronoun ci, both as a direct object pronoun and a reflexive pronoun. Don’t miss this useful episode!

The podcast episodes will be published weekly from 12th February. However, if you’d like to binge the entire season then you can access all 10 episodes on the Coffee Break Academy. Our premium version includes lesson notes with additional examples and explanations of the language in each lesson, and a pronunciation practice video to help you improve your speaking. Click here to access the course on the Coffee Break Academy.

CBF Travel Diaries 2.09 | Comme des rois

It’s time for the next instalment of the Coffee Break French Travel Diaries Season 2! University friends Charlotte, Théo and Lucas make the most of their time in the Loire Valley with a visit to the impressive Château de Chambord and Château de Villandry before a bike ride along the Loire River – the longest river in France! Join teachers Mark and Pierre-Benoît as they discuss the language featured in Charlotte’s travel diary entry in this penultimate episode of the series.

The podcast episodes is being published weekly from 12th February. However, if you’d like to binge the entire season then you can access all 10 episodes on the Coffee Break Academy. Our premium version includes lesson notes with additional examples and explanations of the language in each lesson, and a pronunciation practice video to help you improve your speaking. Click here to access the course on the Coffee Break Academy.

CBSw 1.25 | Jag tycker om kaffe

Welcome back to another lesson of Coffee Break Swedish with teacher Hanna and learner Mark. In Lesson 25 we learn to talk about likes and dislikes so that we can discuss our favourite hobbies with our Swedish speaking friends. By the end of the lesson you will be able to express what you like doing – and what you don’t like doing!

CBI Travel Diaries 2.08 | Il meritato riposo a Cortina d’Ampezzo

In the latest episode of the Coffee Break Italian Travel Diaries Season 2, Simone and Anna are in Cortina, one of the most popular ski destinations in the Dolomites, where they enjoy a trip to the spa. Join Mark and Francesca as they discuss the language featured in this episode, from relative pronouns and indirect object pronouns to demonstrative pronouns and more! We also hear some handy Italian phrases such as che meraviglia! and per niente.

The podcast episodes will be published weekly from 12th February. However, if you’d like to binge the entire season then you can access all 10 episodes on the Coffee Break Academy. Our premium version includes lesson notes with additional examples and explanations of the language in each lesson, and a pronunciation practice video to help you improve your speaking. Click here to access the course on the Coffee Break Academy.

CBF Travel Diaries 2.08 | Lèche-vitrine à Tours

Welcome to another episode from Season 2 of the Coffee Break French Travel Diaries! This time, Charlotte, Théo and Lucas are back on the road as they’re en route to Tours. On arrival they explore what the university town has to offer and sample some local dishes including the famous rillettes de Tours. Listen out for some indirect object pronouns and a preceding direct object pronoun in this episode. 

The podcast episodes will be published weekly from 12th February. However, if you’d like to binge the entire season then you can access all 10 episodes on the Coffee Break Academy. Our premium version includes lesson notes with additional examples and explanations of the language in each lesson, and a pronunciation practice video to help you improve your speaking. Click here to access the course on the Coffee Break Academy.