Coffee Break Languages is the flagship brand of the Radio Lingua Network, and the brainchild of languages teacher Mark Pentleton. Mark had taught for several years in secondary education in the west of Scotland and was running a successful languages and technology project, working with teachers and learners in the secondary schools of three local authorities. In 2005 he designed and produced the well-known Verbcast, an audio show which taught French verbs using relaxation techniques, and he saw an opportunity to provide more of this kind of innovative language-learning materials through structured courses.
In October 2006 Mark launched Coffee Break Spanish which was arguably the first progressive course in Castillian Spanish available on iTunes. Coffee Break Spanish quickly caught the attention of learners around the world and was catapulted to the top of the iTunes Education chart in the UK and in the US. Seeing the potential for similar courses in other languages, Mark formally set up the Radio Lingua Network as an umbrella company hosting Coffee Break Spanish, My Daily Phrase Italian and My Daily Phrase German. Coffee Break French was launched in September 2007, closely followed by the first of the One Minute Languages series, One Minute Polish, proving that it is indeed possible to learn enough of a language to get by in a matter of minutes!
Throughout this period Mark was still working full-time at his day job supporting the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence in the schools of East Ayrshire Council and developing the Radio Lingua courses in his own time. Summer 2008 saw him “giving up the day job” and concentrating full-time on Radio Lingua.
Radio Lingua courses have proven immensely popular. Consistently at the top of the iTunes charts in the Education category (and keeping a certain Oprah Winfrey off the top spot in the overall rankings in the US at one point) the courses have received a number of awards including the TMN Online Excellence Award, the European Award for Languages 2007, and Coffee Break Spanish has recently won European Professional Podcast of the Year. Since 2008, Coffee Break Spanish, Coffee Break French, Show Time Spanish and Walk, Talk and Learn French have regularly featured in the Best of iTunes annual lists of the most popular shows in the iTunes Store.
In early 2011, Radio Lingua launched its first ebook on the iTunes Store and we’re continuing to rework our back catalogue in the ePub format for iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. Check out Radio Lingua on the iBookstore here.
The company launched Coffee Break German in 2012, and added Italian to the range of Coffee Break Languages in 2015. Coffee Break Chinese was added in 2017 and in 2019 both Swedish and English for Spanish speakers were added to the Coffee Break family.
At the present time our company remains small, but very industrious! We have a team of full-time and part-time employees and work with a remote team of native speakers and teachers from around the world, producing over 40 shows across 31 languages. In addition, our extended team of part-time employees do all content development, website management and support in-house.
See our Meet the Team section for more information about the extended Radio Lingua team.