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Join me on this episode of Ten Minutes to a Better Homeschool, where we dive into the power of the fluency approach to language learning with our guest Adelaide Olguin. Drawing from her experiences teaching her own children three languages, she shares the transformative benefits of fluency-focused instruction at home.

Adelaide discusses how this approach not only boosts the learning of individual words but promotes a deep understanding of a language as a living, communicative tool. This method ensures you and your children can start speaking and comprehending a new language from day one, creating an immersive, engaging, and positive learning environment.

We’ll also delve into the importance of choosing the right language for your family, using natural language progression techniques, and much more. Listen in to discover how adopting a fluency approach can enhance the language learning experience for your homeschool family.

Key Language Learning Takeaways:

  • Parents are the most successful language teachers in the world, teaching babies and toddlers to speak at a native level.
  • Learning a new language should be fun and enjoyable, even for non-native speakers.
  • Learning a new language becomes a joyful experience for parents and kids, and children can witness their parents learning alongside them, creating a strong connection.
  • Just like toddlers extract different full sentences and combine them to express their thoughts, our brains are naturally good at extraction. It starts with individual words but extends beyond that.
  • Creating a positive environment for language learning can make it easier and heal past language learning trauma.
  • Fluency is speaking a language accurately and easily without relying on translation or grammar rules.

Links and Resources

Homeschool Foreign Language Transcript

Pam Barnhill [00:00:03]:

I tell you what, every time I talk to today’s guest, she blows me away with new information about natural language learning. Hi, everyone. I’m Pam Barnhill, and welcome to episode 74 of the Ten Minutes to a Better Homeschool Podcast. I am so glad that you are joining me here today. I have a very special guest. Ms. Ad Elade O’gien is here and she is talking to us all about natural language learning and learning a foreign language with your kids. Adelaide started the company Talkbox Mom a few years ago in order to help homeschool families with nonnative speakers speak with their children, talk a new language with their children. And with Talkbox, you can begin talking a new language, like, the very first day. And my family is actually using Talkbox right now because my husband and I would like to go to Italy for a trip and the kids, they would like to go along too. The jury is still out whether or not we’re taking them. No, we probably are, but we’re all practicing our Italian together with Talkbox. And so I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring Adelaide onto the podcast for those of you who are interested in speaking a foreign language with your kids and wondering, how in the world am I going to do this if I don’t know a foreign language myself? And so we’re going to dive right in. It’s a great 15 minutes interview. We do stretch the ten minutes today and we’re going to put links for you in the show notes to all of the resources, including the Ball Challenge from Talkbox and all the coupon codes. So have a listener. Adelaide Olgien is a homeschooling mom of three with a deep desire for helping families successfully learn and use a second language. She is the founder of Talkbox Mom, a foreign language program which integrates language learning into everyday life. Adelaide, welcome to the podcast.

Adelaide [00:02:04]:

Hey, Pam, thank you so much. I’m super excited to talk about foreign language.

Pam Barnhill [00:02:09]:

Of course, of course. You are always excited to talk about foreign language, which is what we love about you because you are always so enthusiastic and knowledgeable and just, like, doing such good work and we get questions all the time. I want to do a foreign language in my home school. I want to do a foreign language in my kid with my kids, but I just don’t speak a foreign language. And you have some solutions for that. So can you share a little bit about how your experience teaching foreign language in your home because you’re working on three different languages, how it’s different than how you learned a foreign language?

Adelaide [00:02:48]:

Absolutely. So learning a foreign language, teaching it with my kids and also learning right along with them is what it sounds like is like, giggles and fun and connection. It’s this amazing time to just take a couple of minutes to just connect with my kids and create really fun memories with them as we practice our phrases. And then throughout the day, we use our phrases. So it just feels really empowering. And my kids, they feel so confident, and we just have this connection time, and it’s really fun. And that’s completely different than how my high school Spanish class, right? It’s very much you learn grammar and you learn vocabulary, and you put those together, and what does it make? Not the language that you’re learning. You sound a little off. Right? And then you’re just so focused. I was like, I would do so well on those vocabulary tests. I would memorize those words. I had no idea how to say them, but I memorized those words to get the A right. And it was so different that in high school Spanish, I got my A’s and I could not speak Spanish. Yes. Whereas with my family, we speak our languages. We’ll go to the country, we’ll speak the languages, we’ll speak with people in our community, we’ll actually use the language. So that would be my compare and contrast on those two. So anxiety with the second one, happiness within my home. Those would be my difference there.

Pam Barnhill [00:04:20]:

I love it. Yeah, because I was the exact same way I did the two years of Spanish in high school. It was the only language we had offered to us and memorized the words and things like that and could not speak the language at all. 100%.

Adelaide [00:04:39]:

I remember this time after high school, I had this opportunity to go to Mexico, and I needed to ask the lady whose house I was at for a towel. And I remember the word towel sounds like I’m not saying that well in English, but I remember that word from the vocabulary test. And so I said it like I could remember the spelling in English. And I was like, to you want what? And then finally she’s like, Baya. And I was like, whoa. That is not how I thought that word would be said. I love it. Yeah.

Pam Barnhill [00:05:10]:

Okay, so let’s talk about natural language learning, because that’s what you’re doing with your kids in your home. It’s called natural language learning. Why is that the best way to learn a foreign language, other than less stress?

Adelaide [00:05:24]:

So when you really look at it, moms and Dads are actually the most successful language teachers in the world. We teach babes and toddlers all over the world to talk at a native level. This is a higher level than a high school teacher or even a university professor could hope to achieve in a foreign language student. We do a really, really good job. So what we want to do, or what we do at Tuckbox Mom, is we copy that natural language progression. We copy the most successful language teachers. So when a baby is little, first they’re talked to, they’re sung to. If you’re a home school family, you’re definitely read to. Then you start talking and singing. And if you’re allowed screen time watching videos, then after that, you start telling stories. Then after that, you start reading, writing, and grammar. And so the traditional approach skips the entire foundation of the language. It undermines everything that parents do for years, and it starts with reading, writing, and grammar. So you’ll have a lot of people who start when they do a language, they want to start with numbers, letters, colors, because that’s what’s done in preschool. Again, the preschool student has already spent years talking with their family. So when you start with numbers, letters, colors, all you learn to say are numbers, letters, colors. And you feel a bit defeated when you just start with grammar. You only know how to analyze the language. You don’t actually know how to use it. And fluency is the ability to accurately and easily speak the language. So if you have to hear something, use your vocab to translate in your head or run a bunch of grammar rules through your head to get that meaning, then that’s not fluency. We’ve lost all fluency. So, at Talkbox Mom, we start with fluency. It’s really important that everything is easily and accurately said. And so we do that by learning to say full phrases, just like parents speak in full phrases and use those phrases. And some people might be like, Pam. They might be like, well, my baby just says individual words, right? A lot of people equate that with vocabulary words. But again, that takes away from what the mom is doing. She’s using full sentences, and the baby is using extraction and taking a word out of that. So if you wake up in the morning, Pam, and you say, don’t talk to me yet. I need my coffee.

Pam Barnhill [00:07:39]:

Yes, 100%.

Adelaide [00:07:41]:

And then you tell your toddler, you can’t have cookies. And your toddler goes, oh, don’t talk to me yet. I need my cookies. Your spouse is like, you’ve created a monster here. But the toddler there has just used extraction. They’ve had these different full sentences. You can’t have a cookie and also, don’t talk to me. My coffee. Right? And they extract. Your brain is still really good at extraction, and it starts with individual words, but the input is not individual words. Does that make sense?

Pam Barnhill [00:08:09]:

It makes 100% sense. And my mind was blown the first time I ever heard you talk about the fact that Moms and Dads families create mastery of a language fluency of a language, like master language speakers within just a few years. And college professors and teachers can’t do that. So my mind was blown because it’s true. It just happens to be in our native language. But okay, so here’s the key. Adelaide, how do I do this if I’m not a native speaker of the language?

Adelaide [00:08:44]:

Yes. So the whole purpose of Talkbox Mom is to help you to start talking a foreign language. The same day you start, or if you’re a native speaker, your children replying back in your language instead of in English. And so parents have already have all the skills to be able to teach a language. We give you the tools to do that. The one thing is you cannot revert traditional methods and think like, oh my gosh, we got to do all of these traditional things. You got to teach like a mom. That is so important. Hold on to that. So the tools that we give you, we have a series of boxes, and you go through different fluency approaches, which is really fun for your family. Lots of laughing, lots of good times, and you follow our talkbox time on process. So you choose the phrases from the guides that have these different fluency approaches. Then you will practice your phrases with the native speaker audio. Practicing with the native speaker audio. I mean, you don’t want to just read how a phrase is said because it’s impossible to write with English phonetics, other languages, because we don’t have the same sounds we do have that we do for like, Japanese, as you know. But it’s more important to hear the native speaker say it. So you hear the native speaker, you practice with the native speaker. This will improve your recall. If you are a native speaker, you will love the native speaker audio, because instead of your kids feeling like they have to perform for you when they speak the language, they get to practice with you. And even for non native speakers, it’s so fun for your kids to see you going outside your comfort zone, learning a new skill, because right now you’ve been the home school teacher, right? And they see you, or they see you just teaching them, and you know how to read, you know how to write, you know how to do the math. And now they’re like, oh my gosh, this is what it looks like to learn. And they learn that from you. So that’s really fun. So you practice with the audio, then you practice the phrase in situations, you practice with emotions. And this is where it gets really fun because you’re having a good time with your different age children as you do this. And then everybody together focuses on just using those one to five phrases that you worked on throughout the day until you have your next practice session. So it’s very active, it’s very fun. You apply it to your life right away. And you get this natural ear for grammar that you don’t get when you learn when you start with grammar, with English, right? We learn grammar after we can talk and we have examples. And so in my head, when I’m talking right now, I’m not thinking about all this grammar in my head. I don’t know, do I need an adjective? Do I need the present? I don’t think about that well.

Pam Barnhill [00:11:21]:

And you use so much of it naturally just from the modeling. I mean, we don’t realize when we’re speaking to our children in English each day, we’re modeling proper grammar for them. Hopefully they’re picking that up and learning it just from the modeling 100%. And it can work the same way in a foreign language. And I love the fact that I have I may not be a native speaker, but thanks to the handy app, I have a native speaker in my pocket, right?

Adelaide [00:11:51]:

So good. And as like a tired mom, I cannot be more grateful for the native speaker audio because I’ll hear it and I’ll be like, Wait, what happened? I need to hear that again. Or like, I’ll think I know what it is. And I play the audio back, and I’m like, oh, right. And so I hear it again and again and again. Whereas if I had someone in person and I used to do this, they would just roll their eyes at me and be like, why can’t you remember it? I’m like, you don’t. You don’t know.

Pam Barnhill [00:12:16]:

The native speaker. Mom is never judgmental about how many times we press play. Okay, so tell me, talkbox has how many languages available?

Adelaide [00:12:29]:

Yes, we have eleven different languages right now. So we have do you want me to list them?

Pam Barnhill [00:12:35]:

Well, no, because ten minutes to a better home school. So tell me, how do we choose the right language for our home school? Because you have eleven available. So how do we decide which one we want to speak?

Adelaide [00:12:47]:

Okay, there are three questions that I would like your family to thoughtfully consider. The first is, if I was this beautiful, magical fairy, and I was like, poof, you speak this language, which language right now would change your life? Right. Who could you connect with right now? What could you do? What opportunities would it open up right now? Then my second question, which could produce a different answer, but is also equally important, is which language would change your future opportunities? Yes. So this could be different because maybe your child has such an interest in engineering or your child has an interest in cooking or art or theater. Right. Could produce a different answer there. Or perhaps your spouse, if they spoke Spanish, they’re getting their nursing degree, right? And that would open up. Or your child’s interested in nursing, and Spanish would be very helpful. So that’s also important to consider. And then the third question is, which language is just near and dear to your heart or your child’s heart? Because the best language to do is the language that you’ll actually do. Yes, yes. And you’ll get that buy in. So those are the three things that I would consider when choosing a language. And you might need to start with one and then add in another.

Pam Barnhill [00:14:05]:

I love that. Says the lady who’s working on three languages, and you didn’t speak any of those languages before you got started with them, you had Spanish in high school, but you’re German and you’re Russian, you just do them because you want to, right?

Adelaide [00:14:19]:

Yes. So I grew up monolingual, and I think that really blows people’s minds because you think like, oh, you cannot learn a language because you’ve reached a certain age. Well, you can’t learn a language maybe the hardest way possible, but you can learn it the natural way. You can start doing that. So, no, I didn’t grow up speaking languages, but because if you look at a picture of me, I am very fair skinned and I have red hair, and the amount of double looks that I get in Mexico is like, flattering when I speak Spanish. And then when we were in Germany, there was this man who was talking to me and my kids. This was just last at the beginning of this year. And he was like, so your parents are from Germany? And I was like, no. And he’s like, oh, so you grew up in Germany? And I’m like, no. Well, nine, right? We’re speaking German. So I’m like, no, that didn’t happen. He’s like, okay, so how do you speak German? Like this? And he like, couldn’t compute. And I know it’s because of the native speaker audio that we get to practice with so much and the fact that we’re having fun because when you’re stressed out, your accent cannot improve, but when you’re having fun, you can hear better. And so you have a lot of improvements. And creating this really positive environment to learn a language makes it easier to learn a language and it also heals a lot of previous language learning trauma that people have in the past. So Talkbox Mom is just like a blast of positive energy.

Pam Barnhill [00:15:47]:

I love it.

Adelaide [00:15:47]:

I love it.

Pam Barnhill [00:15:48]:

Well, Adelaide, thank you so much for coming on today and teaching us all about natural language learning. I think so many of our families are going to be excited. Can you tell everybody where they can find out more about Talkbox? And you also have a fun ball challenge, right?

Adelaide [00:16:02]:

Yes. So you can go to our website, it’s Talkbox Mom, M-O-M. And if you’d like to try our free ball challenge, you can go to Talkbox Mom free and try that out. And you can also look through the eleven different languages we have on Talkbox Mom. And Pam, you have something special.

Pam Barnhill [00:16:20]:

I do have something special. Actually, Adelaide has something special. She has given us a coupon code. You can use the Code Pam Barnhill to get $20 off your first box. So pick one of those eleven languages. Go ahead and order your first box. Use the code Pam Barnhill to get $20 off. Or if you would rather start with the phrase book, which also comes with native speaker audio, you can use the Code Pam Barnhill book to get $5 off that phrase book. And we’re going to have all of the links and the coupon codes in the show notes of this episode for you. Adelaide, thank you so much for coming on today.

Adelaide [00:16:58]:

Thank you so much, Pam. It was a pleasure.

Pam Barnhill [00:17:04]:

And there you have it. Now, if you would like links to any of the resources we talked about today, including the free ball challenge and the coupon codes for the talk box book and your first box, you can find them on the show notes for this episode. Those Tmbh 74. I’ll be back again in a couple of weeks with another great homeschooling episode. Until then, keep on homeschooling.


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