Getting More Out of Tell Me More

Tell Me More is my favorite software language method. But that doesn't mean that it's perfect. I'm always looking for ways to get more out of language learning products to maximize my time and efforts.

I've received several comments about Tell Me More's dialogue exploration, the first activity you do in the software. Some people have said that they don't understand what to do or they just skip over it because it doesn't really do anything. I completely disagree! I think it is one of the most overlooked features of Tell Me More.

This dialogue introduces the main points and vocabulary of the lesson in a conversational fashion. There is a statement or question (along with the audio) and three possible responses. When you choose one of them, the audio plays and the next statement or question pops up.

Some people have asked if there is a correct answer or not. They're all correct, they just represent different paths for the conversation. After a series of these statements and question and answer exchanges, you are done and you move on to another activity.

Here's how I use this and why I think it is so valuable. The first thing I do when I start up Tell Me More, whether I haven't used it in a while or whether I am using it everyday, is to go to the exploration dialogue of whatever unit I'm on. When that first statement or question pops up,
the audio plays. If I don't know or remember what it means, I look at the translation. Then, I repeat it aloud, trying to duplicate the native speaker. I'll probably do it slowly, then try to increase the tempo and rhythm to match the native. I'll probably do this several times.

Then, I'll play the audio for the first response and do the same thing. Then, each of the other responses. When I'm ok with those I'll choose one of the responses and work through the rest of the dialogue. I might repeat this process, working through different paths in the conversation, or I might save some of the paths for the next day.

The key here is to repeat it aloud, comparing yourself to the native audio, and understand the meaning of what you are saying. Don't worry about understanding every grammatical rule behind every word or phrase, or why the word order is that way, or every verb conjugation ... etc. Just work through it. I think I may have adapted this technique from Assimil, which is based completely on this understand and repeat technique.

I find that this is a great warmup for the session. It's a way to refresh your memory, remind you of the vocabulary and structures you're working with and is a great workout for your pronunciation. You will also find that it benefits you when you use the same material as an audio download onto your mp3 player.

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