What are Dialogues
"Dialogues" section is a trainer for practising speaking skills, which is useful both to beginners and to intermediate (or even upper-intermediate) learners.
The idea is incredibly simple: you take part in a dialogue on a certain subject, and your task is to reply loudly, accurately and at the right time so that your reply sounds as natural as possible. To help you assess your result, the narrator repeats the sentence right after you say it; and if your browser supports audio recording function, you can listen to the recorded dialogue on the result page. However, even if audio recording is not available, there is no reason to get upset, because Dialogues are meant for practising fluency, not pronunciation, so you can study anyway, assessing how natural you sound in the context of the dialogue.
The two main modes are "Training" and "Checking". The first one is meant to get you introduced to the dialogue plot, new vocabulary and grammar, and to go over the difficulties you may experience when pronouncing phrases. The second mode shows you how prepared you are to talk about the subject in question. Successful completion of a dialogue in "Checking" mode will give you an opportunity not to get perplexed in a real conversation in English on this subject.
Therefore, doing Dialogues regularly will ultimately help you become fluent, which is a necessary part of communicating in English without barriers!
What are Dialogues for?
According to the American Association of Intensive English Programs, 97 per cent of English learners who study on their own have more difficulties speaking English than writing, reading and listening. The answer is simple — this is because of the lack of speaking practice, because it is not easy, at best, to find a person who speaks clearly using the vocabulary that is understandable to you, and who is willing to put up with your endless stumbling, slips of the tongue and mistakes.
The trainer "Dialogues" can partly fill in this gap giving you an opportunity to practise your speaking skills outside the stressful situation of a real conversation. You can listen to a dialogue in a relaxed manner, go over and memorise each phrase, and check up on your progress by completing the dialogue in "Checking" mode.
In each language, with English being no exception, many phrases use standard patterns, that is, one part of a phrase is a constant which has to be memorised, and the other one is changed depending on the particular circumstances, e.g. "Where is the [theatre, underground station, car park,...]?"; therefore, by learning one pattern while working with Dialogues you get an opportunity to utilise the whole lot of similar phrases in real life. The same applies to grammar patterns (tenses, word order, endings, etc.).
So, doing Dialogues regularly will finally allow you to relax, feel confident and enjoy yourself when communicating in English!
How to use Dialogues?
Your ultimate goal is to become fluent, and to do so, you have to, firstly, learn to quickly remember/articulate phrases in English, and, secondly, to pronounce them in a relaxed manner — just as you would pronounce them in your native language.
In order to achieve that goal, you have to go over each chosen dialogue at least twice, in "Training" mode (which is active by default), and in "Checking" mode (which can be selected in the settings). By doing the dialogue the first time, you familiarise yourself with the story and practise certain phrases; the second time, you look at how well you understood the subject, remembering and uttering the right phrases after getting hints. You can also configure your own mode of working with a dialogue (e.g., turn off the hints or turn on the voice-overs in your native language) by selecting "User-defined" mode in the settings and by specifying certain parameters at your discretion.
For more details on "Training" and "Checking" modes, have a look at the corresponding FAQ articles.
How to study in "Training" mode
"Training" mode is meant for going over a dialogue in a scrupulous manner: familiarising yourself with the story, grasping vocabulary, grammar, beginning to practise speaking fluently.
You take the role of one of the interlocutors, and your task is to say what he or she should be saying when replying to their counterpart. Prior to each of your dilogue lines you hear your counterpart's lines and instructor's comments as well. Next up are the three steps of practising a dialogue line, marked with round indicators.
Step one: your line is uttered by a narrator in English (and in your native language, if the corresponding parameter is turned on in the settings);
Step two: audio recording is activated (in case the audio recording function is disabled, you are simply given a break), and you have to repeat the line, trying to say all the words you have heard at the same pace as the narrator;
Step three: the narrator repeats the sentence one more time for you to be able to see how close you were to original pronunciation.
If you did not say anything at step two or the voice recognition algorithm (if it is on) "did not understand" what you said, the narrator repeats your line, and you are given one more attempt to say it yourself. If you fail again (which is absolutely natural because you are still a learner, not an expert), and if the dialogue line is "long", then automatic part-by-part repetition of the line is activated (again, if the corresponding parameter is specified in the settings).
Here is a useful tip for you: try not to spend too much time on a certain line. Even if, despite all the efforts, you are unable to pronounce it like you want, don't get upset; skip it and move on to the next line. Remember that your task in Dialogues is not to make your pronunciation perfect, but to remember how to respond to a particular phrase without hesitation and keep up the conversation.
How to study in "Checking" mode
If you already did a good job working with a dialogue in "Training" mode, you can test your knowledge and speaking skills. "Checking" mode emulates a real conversation using the dialogue scenario you are already familiar with.
As in "Training" mode, you are going to be taking the role of one of the interlocutors. But now, unlike step one of practising a dialogue line (wherein a narrator says it in English), the instructor will be giving you a hint in your native language for you to know what you should say.
If you manage to pronounce more than 80 per cent of your lines correctly and in time after getting instructor's hints, then you really grasped this dialogue and might try another one. Just don't overstudy! ;) One or two dialogues per day are quite sufficient to develop excellent speaking skills in a reasonable time span.
What is "Listening" mode for?
"Listening" mode is useful if you don't intend to study, but want to
1) quickly familiarise yourself with the content of a dialogue
2) recall a dialogue you went over previously
Can I study if my mic doesn't work (audio cannot be recorded)?
Audio recording is only an additional opportunity to hear yourself speaking. To develop your speaking skills successfully, it is sufficient for you to just hear your voice during the conversation (repetition of dialogue lines) and to try and make your speech pace and accuracy closer to the standard set by the narrator.
If an attempt to turn on or use the audio recording function fails, a warning message is displayed, and you automatically move on to working without the microphone. You can try and turn on audio recording again by selecting either "Training" or "Checking" mode in the settings. If you are still not able to use the microphone, don't worry, you can study without it no less efficiently!
Nonetheless, we keep working on improving quality of our products, so we shall be investigating all the reports of audio issues to try our best to solve them when possible.
Can I study if the voice recognition function doesn't work?
Voice recognition allows you to "see" what your speech sounds like to native speakers. This is useful when you are already fluent in English and you work on your pronunciation. But if you have just started practising your speaking skills, there is no need to get stuck at pronunciation, because the main thing is to learn to quickly recall the right phrase and utter it as the dialogue goes on. To do so, you don't need the voice recognition function.
If you still deem voice recognition to be necessary, please take into account that:
1) this technology is only supported in Chrome browser (just to be sure, you had better install the latest version);
2) the recognition function only works when audio recording is on;
3) the outcome of voice recognition strongly depends on voice-to-noise ratio, that is, if you attempt to study at a noisy place, the recognition success rate will probably be rather low;
4) unfortunately, even in Chrome browser, the voice recognition function is available and stable not on every gadget (for instance, there might be problems with tablets and smartphones, although voice recognition should work fine on most desktop computers).
And once again, voice recognition is an experimental technology which is aimed at giving you an additional opportunity to check yourself. However, using this opportunity is in no way necessary, and you should be well able to improve your speaking skills significantly without this function, just by studying regularly and saying your dialogue lines accurately and in time!
As for us, we shall use our best endeavour to gradually make all the possibilities of Dialogues available to all of our users.
Audio recording doesn't work on my mobile device (smartphone, tablet PC, etc.), and I'm using Chrome browser
On some gadgets (e.g. Samsung), Chrome's integrated voice recognition function itself may act up and stop the mobile app from recording audio as well. For example, this may show itself in the following way: some crackling noise is heard when turning on audio recording during microphone check or when going over a dialogue, and nothing is recorded in the end. In that case, all you can do is select "User-defined" mode in the settings, click on "Speech work" tab and turn off the option "Recognise speech".
If you are not sure, whether you can study without voice recognition, have a look at this.
Audio recording doesn't work in my Safari browser
A problem has been discovered in software implementation of Safari's audio recording function. It shows itself in the following way: initial microphone check show audio recording goes fine, but nothing is recorded when doing a dialogue. Try refreshing the page, but if it does not help, you had better try another browser.
You can also try studying without the audio recording function, it is no less efficient.
Why doesn't anything work?!
If you see this page then something does work, after all :)
You can report any issues concerning Dialogues by means of the link "Leave feedback" which can be found next to each sentence, or by clicking "Contact us" button in the bottom of the website's main page.
We keep on improving our products, so there is a high probability of us fixing this problem in the near future.
I want to propose enhancement. How can I do that?
You can use the feedback form accessible via "Leave feedback" button, or contact us by e-mail. We'll make sure to take into consideration all of your suggestions.
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