What is the Imitation Technique?

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Did you know that if you mimic someone’s accent, you’ll be able to better understand what they say? Playwright George Bernhard Shaw explains the connection between learning and imitation as such: “Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning.”

This is what psychologists at the UK’s University of Manchester and Holland’s Radboud University discovered in a study in 2010. The results showed that learning through imitation  – imitating the person you’re talking to – helps your speech comprehension.

So for language learners, this imitation learning technique means it’s best to practise your conversation skills with a native speaker.


Usually, imitating is copying actions or words so this technique is all about copying something that a native speaker is saying, exactly. It teaches you to listen to the sounds and patterns of English and trains you to make those same sounds yourself. You're training your mouth with your ears.

So you're listening to the sounds and you're not training your mouth with your eyes by reading and guessing the pronunciation of words, you are training your mouth with your ears.

By practising with this technique, you'll reduce your accent and pronunciation problems more quickly and become a clearer and more confident English speaker.


So if you want to learn a new language, don’t just study books. Employ the imitation technique by making contact with native speakers to set up a language exchange. Whether  you’re looking to learn a few British English idioms or brush up on some essential English phrases, you’ll learn, have fun and make new friends, all at the same time!


If you want to speed up the language-learning process, don’t simply imitate your partner’s way of speaking, accent or intonation. Try to use this imitation technique for their hand gestures and facial expressions, too. Not only will you sound like a native speaker, you’ll also act like one!

There are so many benefits to learning a language like this. As well as having a great time and enjoying interesting conversations, you’ll practise your observation and socialising skills.

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