Help With the "Speaking Practice" Activity

Are you having trouble with the speaking questions? Is your microphone not recording sound? Read through this guide that answers the most common questions members have about these recordings.

How it Normally Works:

First let's go over how to use the recording function, just to clarify:

  1. Click the microphone icon
  2. Wait until you see the red button
  3. Speak the phrase
  4. Click the red button to stop the recording
  5. Use the player to play back your recording
  6. If it sounds good to you, hit check. If not, click the microphone to record again.
  7. Once you hit check, a percentage score will appear.
  8. You can mouse over the percentage to see what it “heard”. If something doesn't match, that can signal which part of the phrase may have had an error.

Common Solutions to Speaking Practice Questions:

This feature is a work in progress, so we are still making tweaks to improve it. Whatever the problem may be, your detailed feedback really helps us find problems and refine these features. First, to save time, we'll go through some of the most common solutions:

Update your browser

The site works best on modern devices and browsers that are updated to the latest version. You can check if your browser is up to date by going to https://www.whatismybrowser.com

Here is a guide on how to update different browsers: https://www.whatismybrowser.com/guides/how-to-update-your-browser/

Turn off adblockers

Our site needs to communicate with the speech API that processes your recording and sometimes adblockers can prevent that. Try disabling adblockers or other browser plugins while using our site, especially if you notice the loading wheel is stuck spinning.

Unmute and allow the microphone

Did you get a "nothing was recognized" error or do you hear nothing when you play back your recording? Check if your microphone is muted and that you have allowed access to it in your browser. Check your device settings to ensure that the microphone you're using is properly connected.

Tips for a clear recording:

  • Reduce background noise
  • Wait a couple seconds after you see the red button before you start speaking 
  • Speak slowly and enunciate the sounds
  • Keep your mouth close to the microphone
  • Check that you have a stable internet connection

I'm Still Getting 1% Every Time!

Sometimes this tends to happen with very short phrases that are 1 or 2 words (e.g. "Não", "Bom dia", etc). The reason is that the system is checking each word as a whole, so with only a very brief sound bite, even a tiny error (or just a bit of background noise) could greatly reduce the confidence level. We're working on making adjustments to deal with this, but in the meantime, sometimes with these shorter phrases you may want to rely on playing back your recording. If it sounds pretty close to the original, you can feel confident moving forward.

If you are getting 1% every single time, even with longer phrases, see the next section!

Contact Us if None of These Solutions Help...

When you get to a speaking question that is causing you trouble, use the feedback link below the question's Next button. This is a big help, since we'll know right away which phrase you're referring to. If you don't mind us listening to your recording for troubleshooting purposes, you can also choose to include your recording with your feedback. (This option is disabled by default for your privacy). 

When you contact us, please include the following information. This will save a lot of time with troubleshooting so that we can get things back to normal for you as quickly as possible.

1. Go to https://online-voice-recorder.com

Let us know if you are able to record successfully using that tool. If not, the problem is likely a hardware issue (i.e. with your device) or something in your settings is blocking the microphone from being used.

2. Go to www.whatismybrowser.com, clip copy URL to clipboard, and paste that into your message. This gives us details about your browser settings so we can try to recreate what you're experiencing.

3. Describe what happened (or didn't happen!) in as much detail as possible

My score is lower than it should be

It’s best to think of the speaking practice percentage as how confident the “robot” is that it understood what you said, rather than a precise measure of accuracy. So don't get too discouraged if you get a lower than expected score. It doesn't mean your pronunciation is terrible! 

Keep in mind that these percentages won’t affect your overall unit score, so it’s okay to skip or move forward if you listen to your recording and it sounds pretty close to the original. Sometimes the score is indeed lower because of pronunciation errors, but other times it can be due to factors outside of your control such as background noise or when there are a lot of very similar sounding words.

(That said, if you’re getting 1% every single time, there is probably a technical problem. Check the common solutions above.)

Disabling the Speaking Activity

You can disable this feature here: Lesson Settings by clicking the toggle button and then Save.

Either way, we'd be grateful to hear about your experience, since we're always reassessing where to focus our resources to better serve our incredible members like yourself :)

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