How to Choose Focus Phrases

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Are you able to choose your next 1-5 focus phrases in 30 seconds to 2 minutes max? 


  • Do you put off choosing phrases? 
  • Feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities? 
  • Have an extensive “wishlist” instead of 5 or fewer focus phrases?
  • Or are you skipping around and not sure where to choose phrases from next?

If you’re used to being told exactly what to do and when to do it in a curriculum, TalkBox.Mom can feel a little disorienting at first because there are a lot of phrases in front of you. 

You might want to heart a bunch of phrases in the TalkBox.Mom Companion App because you don’t want to “lose” a phrase you’re excited to learn. You might want to jump around using TalkBox.Mom like a phrase database. (Which it’s not. That’s not as helpful.) Or you might just stare at your challenge and have it stare right back at you as you think, “I don’t know where to start!” 

But don’t confuse having options with being directionless. TalkBox.Mom has a proven roadmap for you to follow that sets you on the path of fluency while also giving you a clear daily plan that matches your family’s uniqueness and time commitment level. These phrase options are also an essential part of successfully using another language—as long as you don’t drive off the road by turning your focus phrases into a wishlist, ignoring the roadmap in front of you, or attempting to use TalkBox.Mom as a phrase database, which again it isn’t because that won’t serve you as well.

To easily choose your 1-5 focus phrases in 30 seconds to two minutes max, you just need to know the walls of the playground so you can play. And playing is fun, so this will be easy for you. 

Let’s jump right in:

How Many Phrases your Family Should Focus On

The first step in the TalkBox.Mom Process is to choose your 1-5 focus phrases. This step can become harder for some than it should be because it can be so tempting to start with, well, everything! However, I promise that you’ll learn everything much faster if you focus on one to five phrases at a time.

Why? By focusing on a small number of phrases, you’ll learn those phrases faster and deeper than if you spread yourself too thin. You’ll also be able to give the phrases the attention they need to be practiced and used in real life. It’s much more doable to implement two phrases with your child than 20 in a single day.

If you’re a native speaker or have studied the language previously, one to five phrases might feel “too light” for you as the parent. But, remember, the goal isn’t that you’re learning a whole ton of things. It’s that you’re using the language. Using the language requires a deep and narrow focus that consistently grows.

So to choose the number of phrases that your family should work on at a time, decide how many phrases you could realistically take through the entire TalkBox.Mom Process in a single day or multiple times in a single day. How many phrases can you pick out with your family, practice with the audio and in situations, and then focus on using as many times as you can that day? You don’t technically have to count your time using the phrase because that doesn’t require any extra practice time. That’s just part of your life.

So let’s focus on your actual practice time. It takes about two minutes to choose and practice one phrase with the audio and in at least one situation. However, I would factor in more time if you like to have more fun with a phrase, your kids like to take breaks to poke each other, or you have many children because each one will take a turn practicing.

The best way to find out how long it takes is… to take one phrase through the entire process with your family. Then divide the reasonable time commitment you have by how long one phrase took you to see how many phrases you can work on per day.  So if your family has 10 minutes per day to practice, and it takes your family 3 minutes to choose and practice each phrase, you would want ot have three focus phrases at a time. This puts you under 10 minutes.

If you only have time for one phrase, one phrase is perfect for your family. 

If two phrases work, then great.

However, once you go over five phrases and into six, seven, or eight, your family's ability to keep track of the phrases you’re working on diminishes as well as your family’s recall of the phrases.

So instead, if you have more time to practice phrases, you could have two or three practice sessions a day and cycle through your phrases faster. For example, you choose three phrases in the morning, practice those phrases, and then add those to your life by noon. Then you choose three new phrases at noon, practice those phrases, and add two to your life by the afternoon. Then you choose two more phrases to add to your one remaining phrase, keeping three focus phrases, practice those phrases, and have three phrases added to your life by the evening. You end the day by choosing three phrases for tomorrow. In this one day,  you’ve added eight phrases to your life while still keeping your focus narrow. And you did it faster and at a better quality than if you had focused on eight phrases at a time. 

This small focus helps lay a strong foundation. As these phrases are really internalized when they are practiced and used, they start to feel like second nature (aka a second language). When this happens, the following sets of phrases you work on continue to become even easier.

Please allow yourself to learn everything faster by focusing on one to five phrases at a time—not by focusing on everything all at once. 

One little note before we move forward, if there is a day that you don’t listen to all the audio for your focus phrases or don’t practice every single in a situation, or don’t use all the phrases, don’t lose heart. Don’t you dare criticize yourself for “getting behind” or “not doing enough.” Instead, use that energy to work on your phrases the next day. This is what the next day is for! You don’t have to be perfect. You just need to keep moving forward.

And keep in mind that your number of focus phrases and practice sessions might change with the season your family is in or the day of the week. Be open to that change because it will help you to stay motivated as you never overdo it or do too little.

How to Use the Guide + App to Choose Phrases 

Now that you know how many phrases your family will work on at a time, you want to choose your phrases from the current guide you’re working on during your allotted time.

The TalkBox.Mom Signature Program comes with a proven roadmap that will help you build consistency and make exponential progress. It’s designed with specific fluency approaches, phrase patterns, and experiences to help you remove mental and emotional roadblocks when it comes to talking in another language. So you want to choose phrases from your current challenge.

To start, you will want to look at your printed guide to get the whole overview of the challenge. Read over the English so you’re familiar with the phrase options in this challenge. You can read it over on your own or with your kids. This means the first time you start a new challenge, you’ll need a few more minutes than other days.

Now that you have an overview, you know what’s on your wishlist. That’s right. You heard me. Your challenge is your wishlist. You don’t need to make a wishlist because your challenge is your wish list. You choose the phrases from your challenge to add to your life. That’s your wishlist. They aren’t going anywhere. You don’t need to heart them all. 

To choose your current phrases, you want to start with the phrases you could get away with saying many times today. The more times you could add that phrase to your day the better. For example, if you just bought a bunch of oranges, you could say, “Do you want an orange?” a couple of times that day.

Now, this does not mean you have to be accustomed to saying this phrase in English in your regular life. If your child typically just goes into the kitchen and eats an orange, that’s fine. But because you’re learning to use another language, you’re going to talk more in your home to practice the foreign language. That’s the whole idea, right?

Your child can ask you if you would like an orange when they go to eat one, or, every time they walk past the oranges, they can ask if their sibling would like one. For a non-verbal child, you would want to use the phrase with them and anyone else in your home so that they can hear it in the situation whether they’re the ones receiving the orange or not.

Some families realize during this process that they’re really quiet at home and don’t talk that much. This doesn’t mean you can’t add phrases in another language to your life. The opportunities are still there. You just need to talk as they’re happening. Adding a phrase to your life is giving yourself an opportunity to practice that phrase.

So after you choose a phrase off your guide, locate the phrase in the TalkBox.Mom Companion App by going to your box, challenge, and page for the audio. 

If your phrase is in a section, slide at the top of the screen to select the section where your phrase is located. 

Then go down to your phrase and heart it. 

Now your focus phrase will appear in your focus list, which you can access quickly from the home screen. This will help you to hear the audio again and again when you work on Step 2 and Step 3 of the TalkBox.Mom Process.

How to Choose Phrases with your Family

To get buy-in from your child, I recommend including your child in choosing your phrases.  If your child is non-verbal or everyone, including yourself, is happy having you choose the phrases, you don’t have to include other family members.

To choose phrases with your family:

  • Simply put the challenge in front of your family.
  • Ask your child if they see your family using the phrase, “[say the phrase in English],” more today or the phrase, “[say the phrase in English]” more?
  • Be sure to choose two options you would be happy with doing today.
  • Do not ask your child which phrase they want to learn. That easily elicits the response of, “None,” or “I don’t know.” As the parent, give options you have chosen. Or allow an older child to give options.
  • After selecting the phrase, you can let your child heart the phrase in the app. Or you can do it. Whichever is more fun for your family.

Choosing phrases this way takes 30 seconds to two minutes. If you’re having more practice sessions each day, you might need to choose new phrases before those practice sessions. 

Now to keep this process fast, you need to take the pressure off of choosing the BEST, most PERFECT phrase ever. Sometimes you will choose a phrase that just doesn’t work for you that day. That’s fine. Replace it when you choose your next phrases. You can always choose that phrase again later. Recovering from choosing a phrase that didn’t work out is really easy and requires minimal effort. It’s not a huge risk. But not starting because you have decision paralysis does risk making progress in the language you want to speak with your family.

So choose a phrase and get to Step 2 and Step 3 of the TalkBox.Mom Process because that’s the important part of what you’re doing here.

Action Item

Choose your 1-5 focus phrases, and then post a screenshot of your 1-5 focus phrases in the private TalkBox.Mom Accountability Group with #focused. Be sure there are no more than 5 phrases. Don't have more and write an excuse for why you have more. And don't be mad at me for saying that.

This is going to help you to either add phrases to your focus list or clear off your “wishlist” from your focus phrases. It will also help you not leave lingering phrases on your focus list. 

Now you’re not going to bite off more than you can chew, meaning choosing way more phrases than your family could realistically take through the TalkBox.Mom Process in a single day. You’re also not going to feel overwhelmed and say you don’t have enough time to take 30 seconds to choose your phrase. 

Rather, you’re going to constantly evaluate your focus list before practice sessions while quickly choosing phrases to maintain your family’s number of focus phrases. This means you’re going to grow in what you can say and understand in your new language without overwhelming yourself or stalling out.

I cannot wait to see the screenshot of your 1-5 focus phrases! I know if you take this small step to commit, you’ll make progress towards your goals like never before.

So I’ll see you in the community.

Thank you for choosing TalkBox.Mom to talk in a foreign language with your family.

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