About me

markpentletonHmm. I don’t really like writing these things. My Twitter profile says “Husband and dad. Language geek, pianist, amateur photographer and educator. Director of Radio Lingua, Coffee Break language-learning. /Canon/Moleskine.” That pretty much sums it up!

I’ve been working on online things since around 1998 when I was teaching in Mearns Castle High School in East Renfrewshire. I set up a site called LinguaWeb for my students to get a bit of help with their homework and some extra practice of their language skills. I took on the post of Coordinator of the Partners in Excellence project in East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire and Argyll & Bute, promoting language learning through technology and we built the social network LanguageZone where the students involved in the project were able to read blogs from young native speakers, practise their French, German and Spanish with games and discussions.

In 2006 I set up Radio Lingua as the home of our nascent podcast Coffee Break Spanish. Since then we’ve built a network of podcasts and in 2014 we delivered 16.4 million free language lessons to learners around the world. We also have a schools branch of the company which delivers content and services to schools around the UK and further afield.

So much for the “day job” side of things. In my spare time I enjoy making music, and I’ve played the piano since the age of five. Back in 2010 I set myself a challenge to record a piece of music every day and I was delighted to achieve this. I repeated this challenge in 2015 with a new set of piano performances, and the 2015 songs can be accessed here. Unfortunately the original collection of songs from 2010 is no longer available online, so as 2017 begins I’ve decided to repost them here on the site. You can find the retrospective 2017 reposts here. I’ve recreated my personal site as a place to store my music, so hopefully you’ll enjoy my tunes!

  • Rob

    Dear Mark,
    I have listened to several episodes of CBS, and quite enjoy them. During the first episode, I got the figurative “ear-worm” with your voice. For several weeks it bothered me that I could not recall whom you remind me of. I asked several others as well “This guy Mark sounds exactly like an actor I’ve heard, but I can’t recall whom! Can you suss it?” None of them could, either.
    After several weeks, I had a brain-wave and watched an old Corrie episode: Tony Gordon (Gray O’Brien) from Coronation Street is who you remind me of!

    Cheers again for the entertaining episodes, and I am going to look see if you have a different CBS: Coffee Break Swedish. My son is going there for a year and will be looking for some lessons…

  • La Mesa Chapel Hill

    Hi Mark,
    This is Rev. David Mateo, from United Church Of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.
    Thanks for your inspiring blog.
    Quick question: How did you get permission to use this music? I’m planning to use it in our church but I don’t who to ask. Any suggestions?

  • Paon_chou

    Salut Mark,

    I really enjoy listening to your podcasts on Coffee Break Academy. In fact yours was probably the very first one I started listening to a couple of years ago. And it was always a pleasure to hear you. I am not sure but it was the episode on Menton which got me hooked. I was visualizing myself going on the tour…very lovely one! I have been learning French for a long time now, but can barely make a conversation. However since 2018 I was able to revive it on a more serious level after taking classes at the Alliance Francaise. I stopped after doing B1. As much as I enjoy learning the language it would be wonderful to be able to use it. I don’t think I want to be an interpreter or translator as it’ll take me many many more years to acquire the proficiency needed for it. Having said that I am very serious about practicing my french daily. I am not sure what are the opportunities for language learners other than teaching in schools. I live in the southern part of India and keep thinking of ways I can up my French skills. You being an educator might be able to give me some perspective on the whole idea of pursuing my french in future too…

    Best wishes!