An Honest Coffee Break Spanish Review: Language Learning on a Busy Schedule
In this review of Coffee Break Spanish, we take a look at the essentials and answer some critical questions so you can determine if the program is something you want to invest in.
Does the resource offer material for your current skill level with an opportunity to advance? Is it something you can realistically engage with on a daily basis? Is it within your budget or worth the cost?
Since your time is nonrefundable, let’s dig into the essential components of Coffee Break Spanish to help you decide whether or not it’s right for you.
Name: Coffee Break Spanish
Description: An audio-based program that promises to help you "learn a language on your coffee break.”
Languages offered: Spanish.
Offer price: Podcasts available for free; one-time purchase of $124 to access full program
Coffee Break Spanish is designed to fit into a learner’s busy schedule, with lessons typically being less than 20 minutes long. I’m really impressed by how they’ve considered learners from all different levels. Plus, lessons steadily build on each other and increase in difficulty.
User friendliness - 9/10
Delivers on promises - 10/10
Authenticity - 7/10
Value for price - 7/10
- Material for every level
- Created by a teacher
- Easy to use and incorporate in daily routine
- Limited material
- High price when the majority of content is available for free
- What Is Coffee Break Spanish?
- Is Coffee Break Spanish Right for You?
- Frequently Asked Questions About Coffee Break Spanish
- And One More Thing…
What Is Coffee Break Spanish?
Coffee Break Spanish is a production of Radio Lingua that promises to help you “learn a language on your coffee break.” Designed to fit into a learner’s busy schedule, the resource offers a variety of languages along with Spanish, including Italian, Chinese, German and French.
Spanish learners can expect lessons that feature native Spanish speakers and Mark Pendleton, the Scottish host, who’s also the founder and CEO of the Coffee Break series.
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.
Coffee Break Spanish features podcasts that won the European Professional Podcast of the Year. Lessons are called episodes and each one consists of an audio component that’s typically less than 20 minutes long. Those audio portions are available as podcasts for free on iTunes and are divided into four seasons (courses) that each focus on specific levels.
Purchasing the courses from Coffee Break Academy makes you a premium member and gives you access to a host of goodies like videos (for seasons one and two), bonus audio, lesson transcripts, notes and a curriculum outline.
There are even translation activities in seasons three and four, where sentences are provided in English and the listener translates them into Spanish.
Each course costs a one-time fee of $145.
Signing up for the free trial allows you to test out whether or not a course is for you. You can even sign up for a trial of multiple courses so you can decide which fits you best.
Is Coffee Break Spanish Right for You?
Here are some factors to keep in mind while you consider whether or not Coffee Break Spanish is something you should pursue.
Pro: Material for every level
As I previously stated, Coffee Break Spanish consists of four seasons (courses), with 40 lessons in each one. Every course coincides with language levels based on the European Framework of Reference for Languages:
- Season 1: Complete beginners (A1)
- Season 2: Refreshers (A2-B1)
- Season 3: Intermediate (B1-B2)
- Season 4: Advanced (B2-C1)
No matter where you are in your language-learning journey, you can find something that challenges you in these lessons.
Season one focuses on basic words and phrases you’ll need to get started, like numbers and food. Season two takes you deeper into the different verb tenses and gives you the vocabulary and phrases you need to talk about your daily routine, among other basic topics.
Seasons three and four weave in more cultural knowledge while continuing to advance your skills and confidence in the Spanish language. Advanced learners will appreciate the practice with idiomatic expressions, in-depth grammatical explanations and an engaging story of a verano español (Spanish summer) to bring it all together.
The first two seasons feel more like a Spanish classroom, while seasons three and four are more like a casual conversation between Spanish speakers.
I’m really impressed by how they’ve considered learners from all different levels. They even developed a course for children!
Pro: 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.
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.
It’s also evident that the developers of Coffee Break Spanish have geared the lessons toward language learners. You won’t get the immersion experience (although season four gets close), but I appreciate how the hosts take time to break down complicated expressions and new words and add a grammatical component that adult learners can appreciate.
Listeners are also challenged in the bonus episodes by translating sentences from Spanish to English and vice versa.
Pro: Easy to use and incorporate in daily routine
Just like the perfect pair of jeans, a 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. Premium members can also download the course materials to any device, easily accessing the videos or bonus audio on your lunch break or in between watching those Spanish YouTube videos.
Its easy-to-use format makes it a great complement to other resources. For example, you can put your new knowledge of words and phrases into action by using it alongside FluentU.
In fact, FluentU serves as the perfect supplement to Coffee Break Spanish.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Con: Limited material
Unfortunately, new content isn’t added on a continuous basis to the current courses. I also really wish videos were available in each season and that there were interactive activities to practice the new concepts.
While the hosts frequently pause to allow the listeners to respond to prompts, there are no opportunities for writing or reading (unless you’re reading the transcripts).
Although Coffee Break Spanish offers a free trial before you decide to purchase, the price can be a turn-off when the audio is already available on iTunes for free.
However, you can’t get access to the videos in seasons one and two and all the other extras if you don’t purchase the courses. I especially liked the bonus audio and translation activities in seasons three and four.
But is it worth the price? I recommend that learners take advantage of the free trial and look at the outline for the courses to decide if the new concepts you’ll be learning are enough to pay.
Frequently Asked Questions 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 of $145 per season of 40 lessons.
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!
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:
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.
Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
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.
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.)