If you want to improve your pronunciation and speaking skills, then try the shadowing practice.
What is shadowing?
Shadowing is a language learning technique where you repeat an audio just after you hear it. You’re acting like an “echo” or a “shadow” (hence the name “shadowing). You listen to the words and then say them back out loud.
Essentially, you’ve got a native-speaker dialogue playing through your earphones and as you hear it, even if you don’t understand a word of it, you’re repeating the sounds at the same time and using transcriptions for meaning and clarity. Remember that you’re not listening to the audio, stopping it, and then repeating it. You’re repeating it as you’re listening. The shadowing technique is to improve your pronunciation and you will not necessarily be focusing on the grammar points of the audio/video content.
With shadowing you basically learn another language in a way that’s similar to how you learned your first language – repeating sounds exactly as you hear them.
Here’s the Verbalists Language Network’s simple guide:
- Find an audio – you can really use any audio: audiobooks, Netflix, YouTube videos, or even radio shows.
- Listen to the audio first. Shadowing is most effective when you understand the content before you repeat it. So give it a listen first, so you understand it. Check that you understand all the key vocabulary.
- Shadow the audio with a transcript. This is the easier version of shadowing: speaking with the audio while also reading a transcript. This helps you to see the words as you’re repeating them. If you’re a beginner or lower-intermediate English learner, this is a great option for you (Leonardo English even provides transcripts for all episodes to members).
- Shadow without a transcript. If you’re a bit more advanced, you can skip straight to this step and do shadowing without the transcript. The focus here is on simply listening and then mimicking what you hear. Your focus is on mimicking the sounds; it’s not so much on what is being said.
We have also prepared a piece of material for you to try the shadowing practice:
It is not necessary that you understand every part of one audio/podcast, especially when you have just began to learn English, still much can be understood through the context. You will be able to develop a better understanding over the time. You may use podcasts with the topics of your interest. For lower English levels, cartoons are a good source of speech shadowing. The cartoons have slower audio speed and easier wordings. Switch to the movies once you feel you are getting hold over the English language.
The speech shadowing technique can be used to learn any language. It’s the best way not only to master colloquial speech, but accent and intonation as well. Happy English shadowing! 🙂
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