Shadowing is a key language learning technique that should be adopted and put into practice by all learners, no matter which language they wish to study. The concept of shadowing is simple; the learner listens to short sentences or (when at a more advanced level) short texts/audios, while listening they should say out loud what they are hearing.
Saying the phrases out loud is of the utmost importance because by doing this, the learner will internalize the language. When the learner starts doing this technique, there will be a short delay between listening and repeating, But with time, they will be able to listen and say the texts simultaneously. The important thing is to persevere and focus on things like word order and internation.
The benefits of shadowing are endless in the process of internalizing a language, but learners will notice a difference in:
- Ability to think in the language
- Agility: the ability to form their own phrases
- Accuracy of grammar use
- Listening skills
Shadowing is applicable to our START METHOD to learn English and it is easy to do daily.
How to shadow is a simple task, but it should be done gradually to ensure an effective learning process. The learner should begin with short phrases/sentences, using simple grammar forms. This way they can take in the grammar and use the phrases in real conversation. When the learner becomes more advanced they will be able to move forward and use more complex structures and of course, longer texts/audios.
The preparation of shadowing is fairly simple and very generic resources can be used. Podcasts are great and can be used as the basis of shadowing, I am currently learning German with two fantastic podcasts HERE and HERE. If you do not have access to a podcast, you can ask a teacher to record short texts/audios for you so that you can practice at home, or you can even record your own on your smart phone (although the pronunciation and intonation benefits will be reduced). It might also be a good idea to have access to the dialogue in written format to review spellings etc.
The consolidation of this technique is essential. Repetition is the key as the more you practice, the quicker you will advance. Do not feel that it is a waste of time to repeat the same texts over and over again. It is also important to note that this technique should be accompanied by an intensive language learning programme and preferably the support of a specialized language teacher HERE to help guide you and maintain your motivation. Consistency is the key; a little bit every day with the guidance of a teacher will ensure that you keep motivated.
Try setting small targets, like learn 5 new phrases a day or consolidating a single grammar structure as this will help you to keep focussed and also ensure that you use a little bit of language each day. I would suggest allocating a specific time each day to your language learning to practice shadowing, like when you go for a jog in the morning or during the commute to work. This way it will become part of your daily routine.