Practicing a Phrase with the Audio
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Are you unsure if you’re practicing with the native speaker audio correctly? Or do you feel like you don’t need to use the native speaker audio because you know how to pronounce the words in the language you’re learning? Or are your kids not enjoying practicing with the audio?
As someone who likes to do things well and not waste time on things that aren’t necessary, I can totally understand wanting assurance on whether you’re doing it correctly, wanting to know if you really need to listen to the audio if you know how to read the language, or wondering why we put so much emphasis on practicing with the native speaker audio.
TalkBox.Mom is different from other language programs you might have used and so the way we use audio and the intention of using audio is different from those programs.
At TalkBox.Mom, practicing your phrases with the native speaker audio isn’t just about “knowing how to say a phrase.”
- helping everyone in your family know which phrase you’re focusing on,
- improving your family’s recall of that phrase,
- making the phrase feel familiar,
- lowering your or a family member’s anxiety when a native speaker talks to you,
- helping you to hear better when you do fluency layer activities like watching shows or listening to music,
- helping your family to pick up further nuances, and
- helping your family members’ pronunciation.
If you’re feeling tempted to skip this step because you as the parent can pronounce the phrase, your kids know what the language sounds like, or you’re a native speaker: don’t. It’s important to have that extra input that’s not just you. Get that extra input. There’s a noticeable difference if you skip practicing with the native speaker audio. (I’ll know. 🙃)
And practicing with the native speaker audio also isn’t just about listening and repeating, like you might have experienced in older CD-based programs where you sit and repeat. That’s not what we’re doing here. The time you put into simply listening and repeating won’t help you retain as much or use as much of the language as what we’re doing here with TalkBox.Mom.
So how do you practice with the audio quickly and efficiently? To help you do just that, first I’m going to talk about how to keep your audio on speed dial, what practicing with the audio would look like in your home, and two key ingredients to help practicing with the audio be an easy, fun part of your day.
Keeping your Audio on Speed Dial
After you choose and heart your 1-5 focus phrases in the TalkBox.Mom Companion App, they’re just one click away at all times, meaning that they’re on speed dial for you to access again and again.
Having your phrases on speed dial is important. You’ll want these phrases nearby because you’ll open them when you practice with the audio, you’ll open them when you practice your phrases in situations, you’ll open them when you practice phrases with emotions, and you’ll open them when you use your phrases as life happens.
You’ll listen and repeat with the audio again and again through the TalkBox.Mom Process.
To access your focus phrases with one click, after opening the TalkBox.Mom Companion App, click the “Learning” button on your home screen. This will open your list of 1-5 focus phrases.
You don’t have to go back to the challenge. You don’t have to search for the phrases. You don’t have to make it a big task in your mind that will take a ton of time. (I’m totally guilty of doing things like that!) You just need to click one button.
In our last training, I talked about determining how many focus phrases your family should focus on at a time and picking those phrases while getting buy-in from your family. If you missed it, you can listen to the last training by going to www.talkbox.mom/startmybox2.
Choosing your 1-5 focus phrases should only take 30 seconds to two minutes max. So if you skipped that step, please do that first! Then you’ll have your phrases on speed dial.
Practicing with the Audio
When you practice your focus phrases with the audio, you want to focus on one phrase at a time—instead of listening and repeating all of your phrases together. This will give your family the focus they need to make each phrase their own and be prepared to use it that same day.
To do this, you’ll listen and repeat one phrase with the audio. Then you’ll practice that phrase in at least one situation. With time permitting, you could go even further and also practice the phrase with emotions.
Then you’ll move on to your next phrase and focus on it. And so on until you practice all your phrases.
If you can’t get to each phrase the same day, you should lower the amount of focus phrases you have. Why? For your family to acquire the language you’re learning, you need to set yourself up strong to use your phrases together while being on the same page. Practicing will allow you to do just that. Then after practicing all your focus phrases, your family will be ready to focus on using these phrases as many times as you can that day.
In this training, I’m going to go deep on practicing with the audio. In the following trainings, I’ll cover practicing your phrases in situations, practicing phrases with emotions, using your phrases, and then checking off your phrases.
To practice with the audio, first go to your 1-5 Focus Phrases list and be sure “autoplay” is turned off in the app so that you can practice one phrase at a time—instead of repeating all your phrases together.
Then, have you or your child announce what the phrase is in English and tell everyone to repeat after the native speaker. For example, “We’re going to hear how to say [phrase] in [language name]. Have fun repeating after each word. If you can, say the full phrase after her at the end.”
The native speaker will say the phrase word by word (or tone by tone for Chinese) while pausing for your family to repeat. Then she will say the full phrase and pause for your family to repeat.
If the full phrase feels like too much at first, that’s fine! Just say the phrase word by word. After a couple of days, you’ll feel ready to say the entire phrase.
After you finish repeating the phrase, have you or your child ask everyone what the phrase means. If some family members aren’t sure, remind your family what the phrase means, practice with the audio again, and ask again what the phrase means until everyone is on the same page.
Note that as you move forward in the TalkBox.Mom Signature Program, instead of saying the phrases word by word, the native speaker will say a couple of words together then the full phrase. At the end of the program, the native speaker says the full phrase once.
This progression is intentional and listening to the audio as you move through the program will help increase your ability to listen and comprehend the phrase said only once.
Plus, as you go through the program again, rehearing the word by word will improve your pronunciation as you can hear more sounds at this time. Having access to this progression will improve different parts of your speaking and listening skills. You’ll also be ready to use the Fluency Companion to improve lip shape and tongue placement.
For parents with babies and toddlers, you as the parent can practice the phrase with the audio on your own or with your child around—not expecting your child to repeat. At this stage, it’s important that you as the parent feel confident.
You can then practice your phrase in different situations on your own or with your baby or toddler. Then you’ll want to talk out loud as much as possible to use your phrases on your own, around your baby or toddler, or even with your baby or toddler.
When your child becomes more verbal, they’ll have heard and seen you use the phrase in the moment as life happens, which will allow them to make the connection between what you’re saying and what the phrase means.
So don’t worry if your little one is not talking yet as you practice a phrase. They’re still learning! And they can still have fun watching mommy and/or daddy practice! I’m sure it will help bring on the giggles, especially when you go through the next training.
Keeping Practice Positive & Short
When you play a phrase for your family to practice with, I gave you an easy script to use. I hope you noticed the sentence, “Have fun repeating after each word.” I’ll say the whole script again so you can hear that sentence in there.
“We’re going to hear how to say [phrase] in [language name]. Have fun repeating after each word. If you can, say the full phrase after her at the end.”
Asking everyone to have fun is no filler sentence in this script. It’s part of setting your expectations for your family. It’s really important that your kids know your expectation is not that everyone says each word perfectly but that they have fun doing it.
The first key ingredient to a great phrase practice session is keeping it positive. When your family repeats with the audio, celebrate that everyone tried! Refrain from correcting anyone’s pronunciation or being hard on yourself for how you sound. Why?
When you’re a baby, you’re able to hear sounds in every language. But as your family only uses specific sounds, your focus shifts to those sounds. For family members over four years old, it can take a couple of weeks to a couple of months to hear the sounds in the new language.
Over time, you can start hearing better if you’re having fun as you listen and repeat with the native speaker audio! The keyword here is fun. Stressed-out people have trouble hearing better. So be sure not to stress your kids, yourself, or your significant other out by focusing on sounding perfect.
This can look like telling your child to say a word more like this, as you proceed to say it, or pointing out that they said it wrong. This causes unneeded stress because if your child or significant other can’t hear the sounds, they can’t fix the sounds. So if you tell someone they’re saying a word or phrase wrong, and they can't hear it and can’t fix it, they’ll just be annoyed with you. Or embarrassed about their limited ability and not want to try. And trying is what they need to do to hear better and improve their pronunciation.
I’m a constantly recovering perfectionist, so I understand how difficult it can be to not try to sweep in and “rescue” them by pointing out mispronunciations early on, but it’s worth it. I’m not saying you need to lie and say they sound great when it’s like nails on the chalkboard. I’m saying, you should focus on the effort they put in. Their effort was the great part!
Then you can model back the language correctly by either playing the app again or using the phrase yourself.
Giving your family time and staying positive is critical for your family to be able to hear the language, pronounce it better, and actually want to continue to learn a language with you. So if you want to be helpful, stay positive as you practice with that audio again and again and over time you’ll hear the difference!
And if you’ve slipped up in this area, let your family know that you want to focus on having fun. (You could even let them grade how fun you were during phrase practice to show your family that you’re serious about having fun.) As you focus on fun, your family will continue to hear better and better and over time improve your pronunciation as you continue to practice and use your phrases.
The next key ingredient to a great practice session is to keep practicing with the audio SHORT. You only need to practice your focus phrase one or two times before you practice that phrase in a situation or with emotions.
However, this doesn’t mean you’ll only hear and practice with the audio one or two times! As you know, you’ll play the audio again and repeat with the native speaker as you practice the phrase in situations and with emotions. This will help your family remember what the phrase is, reinforce pronunciation, and/or increase your recall speed.
You’ll also practice with the audio when you use your phrases as life happens. One way you can do this is by playing the phrase after you use it. This reinforces the phrase for everyone, including yourself.
There have been times I’ve said a phrase and my kids aren’t too convinced that’s how the phrase was said when we practiced it. Because I play the focus phrase back after it’s used (situation permitting), I realize that I was totally mixing something up. This process helps you to self-correct, which is super powerful! You’ll remember the phrase even better when you mix something up and then self-correct!
Another way you can practice with the audio as life happens is by playing the audio to help you or a family member use the phrase.
Let’s say someone wants to use a focus phrase. They know the phrase is on the list because you practiced it with the audio earlier, but they cannot even remember how it begins. Play that phrase so your family member can use it! Totally count them repeating the phrase as them using it.
You can even play the word-by-word part of the phrase to say the phrase with a younger child or a child that needs more reassurance as they want to say the phrase. If your child says the word by word with the native speaker, they don’t have to say the phrase again to use it. Even just saying the word-by-word part after the native speaker is a great way to use a phrase.
You want your family to understand that trying is the secret to succeeding. By making practicing with the audio as easy as possible for them, you'll help them want to continue to practice and improve, and I promise you will see results.
Another way to keep your practice sessions short is to break up your language practice time. For example, instead of scheduling a one-hour-long practice session, break it up into three shorter practice sessions. Doing more practice sessions that are shorter will help you make more progress than doing one long practice session.
So if your schedule allows you to break up your session into small pieces throughout your day, great. However, if you can only schedule one intentional time to practice, use that time!
To help you add in additional short practice sessions, remember that your practice session doesn’t have to be sitting down at a table. You can totally have a scheduled practice session at a table during your day. (I do for our first intentional practice session!)
But you can also have a small session right after getting in the car. You can do one during a walk outside. You can do one right before bedtime. And you can do one after you’re done eating a meal. (Which would be at a table. But you know what I mean!)
If your kids don’t sit at a table to learn, then don’t sit at a table to practice the audio. I’ve seen kids repeat with the audio on exercise balls. Do note, that you’ll only repeat with the audio for a couple of seconds before you run off to practice the phrase in a situation. So don’t worry. You never have to be glued to a table, especially if your kids are allergic to that.
TalkBox.Mom is designed to work with your family’s unique needs and goals. So whether you need to go all in for a couple of months to prepare to move to Europe, you have a high school student who needs to hit a required amount of time, or you have a newborn that you’re excited to learn something new with, you’ll be able to keep your practice sessions positive and short. It will just look different for your unique family.
Now it’s time for you to practice a phrase with the audio—one from your Focus List—while keeping your practice session positive and short.
I’d love for you to post a video of your family practicing a phrase with the audio using the #audiopractice! And post it to the community or share it with email@example.com.
However, if that’s impossible because you’re practicing on the phone you make videos with, I’d love for you to post a photo after your practice session with your kids rating how much fun they had with you during the practice session on a scale of one to ten. They can rate you with their fingers.
If your kids give you a low score, don’t lose heart! There are a lot of ways to make your short practice sessions more fun. We’ll cover that in the next training, and, in reply to your post, other TalkBox.Mom families that have made their practice sessions more fun can share specialized advice to help you level up.
I would love for you to participate in this challenge and take the very next step towards your success.
By taking this step of practicing with the audio, your family members won’t be confused about which phrase(s) you’re working on today. You won’t be frustrated that your family isn’t trying to use your phrase(s). You won’t miss out on opportunities to help improve your child’s recall of a phrase or lower their anxiety when native speakers talk to them.
You won’t all engrain mispronunciations learned from reading phrases instead of listening to them from a native speaker. Your family won’t feel stressed or unsure that they’re saying something correctly. Your family won’t be left feeling stagnant in improving your listening and pronunciation.
Plus, you won’t discourage everyone by making practice sessions too long or not fun because you’re too focused on your family instantly saying words perfectly.
You won’t get stuck there! Rather, your kids will look forward to your short and fun practice sessions. They’ll like practicing with you and like this part of their day because you’re having fun together and they feel successful. They might even ask for additional practice sessions when you get in the car or are waiting in line.
They’ll smile and giggle as they do their best to say each phrase. Because they know the audio is just one click away and that they can have all the help they want, they’ll ask you to play the audio before they practice a phrase in a situation or with an emotion. Just to hear it one more time and feel confident!
When they go to use a focus phrase but can’t remember how it’s said, they’ll be quick to ask you to play the audio so they can say the phrase as life happens. They’ll be more willing to try to use a focus phrase—even if it’s wrong—because they know they can listen to it again and say the phrase again without any pressure!
You’ll even overhear your child from the other room using one of your focus phrases with another family member or as they’re playing.
Your child will surprise you by adding your focus phrases again and again to your daily activities because they know which phrases you’re trying to use together. They’ll even use their phrases with native speakers that you meet or know!
When your kids practice the same phrase in the next practice session, they’ll say, “Mom, that’s so easy! I used that so many times yesterday.” They’ll be checking off phrases after two or three practice sessions and choosing new phrases with you.
You’ll start to hear their pronunciation improve and see them pick up on more things that they understand from songs and movies.
Best of all, your kids won’t want to give up because they are worried about disappointing you. They’ll actually feel more confident. They’ll feel supported as they practice and use phrases. And they won’t feel bored or embarrassed. They’ll want to keep learning to use a language with you.
I know this will happen because these are the kinds of things that I see from families who intentionally schedule short and fun practice sessions for their focus phrases. And these are the kinds of things you can expect too.
I look forward to seeing your post in the community (or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org) with #audiopractice. Your post can either be a video of your family practicing a phrase with the audio or a picture of your family rating your practice. Either way, it will help you to take this next step on your language journey!