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Coffee Break Spanish Review: Convenient Listening but Not Comprehensive

Coffee Break Spanish uses short, conversational podcast episodes to teach the language, along with additional learning tools if you purchase a course. 

They offer material for every level, but I’ve found the resource especially useful for intermediate and advanced learners who learn well through audio and want to build their vocabulary, understanding of grammar and listening skills. 

Keep reading for an overview of the essential components of Coffee Break Spanish to help you decide whether or not it’s right for you.

Contents

What Is Coffee Break Spanish?

Program overview

Coffee Break Spanish promises to help you “learn a language on your coffee break.” Designed to fit into a learner’s busy schedule, the resource offers lessons in a variety of languages along with Spanish, including Italian, Chinese, German and French.

Spanish learners can expect lessons in a podcast format that feature native Spanish speakers and Mark Pendleton, the Scottish host and founder of the company, speaking in a mix of Spanish and English. The newest podcast episodes are accompanied by a blog post summarizing the topic and a worksheet you can download for free by providing your email address. 

Through a series of episodes, learners steadily expand their vocabulary and learn to formulate increasingly complex sentences with new words and phrases. Listeners will also grow their knowledge of grammar and Spanish-speaking countries in a back-and-forth conversational manner.

Lesson format and price

Coffee Break Spanish offers a variety of learning resources that are frankly a bit confusing to keep track of, but I’ll lay them out here as simply as possible. 

Free podcast series

Coffee Break Spanish has various podcast series such as “Travel Diaries” and most recently, “The Coffee Break Spanish Show,” which is aimed at intermediate learners and covers topics such as Spanish negation. The podcast episodes are available for free online and on major streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

The episodes are short—typically less than 20 minutes long. “The Coffee Break Spanish Show” keeps its episodes under 15 minutes and also features a video component so you can watch the speakers as they’re recording the episode. 

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Coffee-Break-Spanish-podcast-lesson-video

Paid courses

If you want to go beyond the podcast lessons, you can purchase a course from The Coffee Break Academy or The Coffee Break Club. The Academy currently offers three options for Spanish learners:

The first two options are based on podcast series that are available for free, but buying the course gives you access to additional learning tools such as bonus audio, video lessons and lesson notes. 

Coffee-Break-Spanish-Lesson The Coffee Break Club is also called Coffee Break TV and for $19.99/month or $199.99/year, you can get access to a video library of 5-15 minute language lessons for intermediate learners. 

What Are the Pros of Coffee Break Spanish?

Here are some factors to keep in mind while you consider whether or not Coffee Break Spanish is something you should pursue.

Material for every level

While the majority of their material is for intermediate learners and above, there is one podcast season and accompanying course for beginners from the Coffee Break Spanish series: 

  • Level 1: Beginners (A1-A2)
  • Level 2: Lower intermediate (A2-B1)
  • Level 3: Upper Intermediate (B1-B2)
  • Level 4: Advanced (B2-C1)

Each of these courses contains 40 lessons and coincides with language levels based on the European Framework of Reference for Languages.

If you’re an intermediate or advanced learner who’s felt frustrated by the plethora of resources for beginners and lack of material for your level, Coffee Break Spanish might be a good option for you. No matter where you are in your language-learning journey, you can find something that challenges you in these lessons.

If you’re an advanced learner, you can be immersed in the language with “La penúltima voluntad.” In each episode, a native Spanish speaker reads a chapter of the story out loud in Spanish and then discusses it with Mark in English. 

Coffee-Break-Spanish-podcast

Created by a teacher

As a former teacher and lifelong planner (yes, I even create outlines for my vacations), I appreciate a program that follows a logical progression and includes a curriculum that learners can follow. I want to know what’s coming up, what I can skip and what to look up before starting a lesson.

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Looking at the overview of the course components, it’s obvious that this resource was created by a like-minded educator. Lessons steadily build on each other and increase in difficulty. They’re also the perfect length and not overwhelming.

And if you’re like me, you’ll love the course outline that gives a short description of each lesson. Given the cyclical nature of the topics, you can be certain you’ll hear words and phrases multiple times in context to be able to internalize them. I also appreciate how the hosts take time to break down complicated expressions, new words and grammatical concepts.

Easy to use and incorporate in daily routine

A good language learning resource needs to fit comfortably into your current lifestyle. If you’re too busy to devote an hour to studying a language each day, Coffee Break Spanish gives you the opportunity to learn a lot in a short amount of time.

Not only is the information manageable, but you can take the lessons to go. Listen to an episode on your way to work or during your workout. If you purchase a course, you can also download the materials to any device, easily accessing the videos or bonus audio on the go.

What Are the Cons of Coffee Break Spanish?

Limited material

Unfortunately, new content isn’t added on a continuous basis to the current courses. The Spanish Masterclass is an ongoing course, but the current course is closed for registration and runs until August. 

I also really wish videos were available in each season and that there were more interactive activities to practice the new concepts. There are no opportunities for writing or reading (unless you’re reading the transcripts).

It’s also worth mentioning that the different courses on the website aren’t organized by language, which makes checking out the options and finding what you need a bit more difficult. 

Price may be prohibitive

The price of the courses offered by Coffee Break Spanish can be a turn-off when the podcast episodes and worksheets are already available for free. While you have the option of making monthly payments for some of the courses, you’re still committed to paying the full price, unlike a monthly subscription that you can cancel anytime. 

However, you can’t get access to all the extra learning materials if you don’t purchase the courses. I especially liked the bonus audio and translation activities in Levels 3 and 4 of the “Coffee Break Spanish” course. 

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But is it worth the price? I recommend that you take advantage of the free resources and look at the outline for the courses to decide if the new concepts you’ll be learning are enough to pay for. You can also get the first three lessons of each of the Coffee Break Spanish courses for free to try it out. 

How Does Coffee Break Spanish Compare to Other Language Programs?

SpanishPod101

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Both Coffee Break Spanish and SpanishPod101 cater to learners of all levels, from absolute beginners to advanced speakers. However, they have some differences in their approach and content.

For example, SpanishPod101 provides a broader range of resources beyond podcasts. You’ll find video lessons, lesson notes, quizzes, flashcards and a community forum for learners to interact and practice.

Coffee Break Spanish is known for its conversational approach and casual tone, while SpanishPod101 offers a more structured and comprehensive learning experience. If you’re on a strict budget, you can take advantage of both of their free materials or check out SpanishPod101’s monthly subscription options

See our in-depth review of SpanishPod101

Pimsleur

spanish audio lessons

Pimsleur is another audio-based program you can use to learn Spanish. Unlike Coffee Break Spanish, Pimsleur has you repeat words and phrases as you listen which can help improve your pronunciation and speaking skills.

Pimsleur might be more suitable for you if you’re a beginner and/or want to improve your speaking skills and vocabulary memorization along with your listening comprehension. 

If you enjoy a mix of audio and text-based learning with a broader content scope (including grammar instruction), Coffee Break Spanish could be the better option. The prices are similar: you can purchase a complete level (30 lessons) on Pimsleur for $150 or all 5 lessons for $575. 

See our in-depth review of Pimsleur.

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FluentU

FluentU and Coffee Break can both teach you conversational Spanish, but FluentU is a video-based program and provides an immersive language learning experience without structured courses.

With FluentU, you can choose from hundreds of short video clips from authentic Spanish media and build your language skills as you watch. Interactive captions and personalized vocabulary quizzes help you learn new words and phrases in context. 

If you’re looking for a language course you can listen to while driving, Coffee Break is the better option. But if you want a more comprehensive experience that’s also great for on-the-go learning, FluentU offers more and the monthly subscription means you don’t have to make a big upfront investment. 

You can download the FluentU app for iOS or Android devices and try the program for free for 2 weeks.

FAQs About Coffee Break Spanish

Is Coffee Break Spanish a good way to learn Spanish?

Coffee Break Spanish can be a great way to learn the fundamentals of Spanish, particularly as it has material that covers all levels, and is easy to work into your daily routine. However, it’s not the only Spanish course out there, so you may want to shop around before making a final decision.

Is Coffee Break Spanish free?

Much of the content from Coffee Break Spanish can be accessed for free, such as the podcasts. However, if you want access to all the resources available on the course, you will have to pay a fee that varies depending on the course you choose.  

Is Coffee Break Spanish Castilian?

As the teacher Mark has lived in Spain, he focuses on using “Spain Spanish” for the sake of simplicity in earlier lessons, but as the course progresses you will be introduced to alternative terms from around the world.

 

Hopefully, you’re now armed with enough information to make an informed decision. Coffee Break Spanish is a professional production with lots of benefits.

Give it a try to see if it’s right for you!

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And One More Thing…

If you've made it this far that means you probably enjoy learning Spanish with engaging material and will then love FluentU.

Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.

FluentU has a wide variety of videos, as you can see here:

learn-spanish-with-videos

FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.

learn-spanish-with-interactive-subtitled-videos

Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.

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Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.

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The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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