Experiment in "shadowing"
For several years, I've heard about a mysterious technique for language learning called shadowing.
I understood that it had to do with repeating after a recording of a native speaker, however, I didn't really know more than that. But recently I've become more interested!
It all started because I want to improve my Polish pronunciation. While its strongest proponents assert that shadowing is a complete language learning technique, many people say that it's particularly great for improving pronunciation.
So, I've decide to experiment using shadowing with Polish!
In this article, I describe my plan for this experiment. I'm completely new to the technique, but I know that many readers of the blog already use it. Please give me your advice!
Read more for a short explanation of shadowing and my plan!
First of all, it's difficult to find a good, concise description that really defines shadowing. This article is one of the best, but I didn't really understand it until I watched this 55 minute video by Professor Arguelles, the creator of the method.
The materials you need include:
- Recordings of continuous narratives in the language you are learning, without pauses or instructions in your native language.
- A transcript of the recordings, given in bi-lingual format: where one side of the page has the text in the language you are learning and the other has a translation in your native language.
Professor Arguelles recommends the Assimil courses.
The method involves listening to the recording while speaking aloud, imitating what you hear as quickly as you can. You do this in a series of stages: first, without looking at the text (blind shadowing); next, in various combinations of looking only at the translation to looking at both the translation and transcript; and, ultimately, while only looking at the transcript.
This is all meant to be done while walking quickly and purposefully, with good posture, preferably outside. The professor doesn't know exactly why this helps, but he says the physical aspect is very important.
After "shadowing proper," the professor recommends comparing both versions of the text to study the grammar, as well as various exercises. For example, reading the text aloud, writing the text, typing the text or reviewing it in other ways.
It's a very complex method with lots of stages and components!
Professor Arguelles' video is targeted at beginner to intermediate learners. But I've seen reference that shadowing can also be used by advanced learners when listening to audio books. Perfect! I love listening to audio books in Polish. :-)
But how much of the method should I follow?
The professor states several times in his video that you should start by following his method exactly before modifying it for your needs. However, as an advanced learner, I don't think the full method is appropriate.
For example, there is a lot of repetition built in. However, I can listen to an audio book in Polish and understand it without needing to repeat anything. Repetition would just be boring.
Also, I don't think a translation is necessary. Most of the time I can guess any unknown words from context. I only very rarely need to look up anything in the dictionary.
So, my experiment will entail a modified version of shadowing:
- Every day, I will walk in the park listening to a recording of Quo Vadis, which I am reading right now.
- I will repeat after the speaker as quickly as I can, trying to imitate their pronunciation.
- Since it sounds like a difficult skill to master, I will start with 20-minute sessions.
- I will listen to each part just one time.
- I'm not sure if I should use the text or do blind shadowing... What do you think?
I need your help!
Does my plan look OK? Do you think I will get the benefits of shadowing? How should I change it? How long before I should expect to see any results?
I will wait for your input before starting my experiment!
Please leave a comment below!