WHAT IS SHADOWING?
The shadowing technique is very simple. In fact, it is almost too simple.
Shadowing means to copy something. In English this means to listen to someone speaking and then try to copy the sounds they made.
Some people will call it the listen and repeat method, but it is basically the same thing. You listen to the audio, then you repeat what you heard. This has a lot of benefits that we will talk about a little later.
WHY IS SHADOWING GOOD?
People often think that such a basic technique can’t really help them. Those people are wrong. There are a lot of benefits with the shadowing technique.
In English, there are probably some sounds that don’t exist in your native language. That means you need to move your face, lips and tongue in different ways to make this new sounds.
The best way to do this is to practice moving the muscles in the correct way. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
This is exactly the same for when you want to make new sounds when speaking. If you want to make the sounds correctly, you need to practice moving your face, lips and tongue in the correct way. This will take time, but shadowing is perfect for practicing these skills!
English is a stress based language. This means that we put emphasis on certain sounds within a word, or certain words within a sentence. Not all languages are like this. Even other stress based languages do this differently.
However learning stress is very difficult. It is not like grammar or vocabulary. The only way to really learn this is through a lot of listening and a lot of practice.
Shadowing is the perfect method for learning and practicing stress patterns in English. Over time, you will naturally understand how to stress the words and sentences like a native speaker would because you are practicing making the same sounds.
REDUCTION OF YOUR NATURAL ACCENT:
Having a natural accent is not bad. However, if it is a very strong natural accent, it can make it very hard to understand what you are saying.
In Japan, I meet a lot of speakers who speak “Katakana English”. This is where the English words are pronounced using the Japanese language sounds. As the sounds are different, the words sound different too, which can make it very hard to understand.
When copying a natural accent, you will practice and gain a natural accent of your own.
HOW TO GET STARTED WITH SHADOWING!
Now you know what shadowing is, and why it is good, you probably want to give it a go.
All you need to practice shadowing is:
What audio should you use for shadowing practice? And the answer is quite simple. Anything you like can be used for shadowing practice.
Why don’t you try:
Any of these things would be suitable for shadowing, so just choose the one you like the most. Just try to find some material that also has a transcript or subtitles so you can read the sentence you are trying to copy. It’s not essential, but it is very helpful.
Once you have found the audio that you want to use, it’s time to get started. Shadowing basically has 3 steps.
Listen to the audio you have chosen and read the transcript at the same time. Listen to the whole thing without stopping until the end. Don’t worry too much about understanding everything you hear. This is just to give you some time to hear the audio you will be copying.
Listen to the audio again, but this time, pause at the end of each sentence. Then try to repeat the sounds you just heard. You should practice each sentence 3-5 times before moving on to the next one. Try to pay close attention to the sounds of the words and the stress of the sounds.
When you get to the end of the audio. You are finished for today. Good work. All you need to do now, is repeat these 3 steps again next time you want to practice shadowing!