There are many different techniques that can improve your English skills. These methods can work even when you’re practicing on your own.
But do you want to know the secret technique to English fluency?
Well, you might have already heard about the Speech Shadowing Technique.
Shadowing technique is basically copying what the native English speaker is saying. Speech shadowing is not simply repeating what you have heard but trying to talk at the same time as the speaker.
That does not seem so easy, does it?
Not at all. To be totally honest, this technique will require a lot of time and effort from you. Then again, it’s much easier than finding a native English-speaking partner for practicing. There would also be no need for you to go abroad for an entire year to practice your English skills.
While the technique sounds challenging, there is no need to worry! I am here to guide you through the process. I am going to teach you how to work using this technique.
You will surely improve your English pronunciation skills without a speaking partner as quickly as one month!
So are you ready? Let’s begin!
Do You Study English the Right Way? Have You Ever Thought About Your Mouth as a Muscle?
A lot of English learners are asking me why they have not achieved English fluency even though they have been trying to study the language for many, many years.
I know exactly why that is. It’s because you do not think of your mouth as a muscle.
What does that have to do with English fluency?
Well, it is your mouth that produces English words, phrases and sentences. When speaking, the lips, tongue, jaw and facial muscles make the sounds possible.
So what should you do?
All you got to do is train your mouth muscles. Muscle memory can be harnessed by training your mouth to move in favor of your English-speaking knowledge.
It is a great way to improve your pronunciation and your accent. It will help get your mouth muscles to move in the correct way.
But how can you train your mouth muscles if you do not live in an English speaking country?
Tell you what, my friend. You do not have to move abroad to practice your mouth muscles. This is where the Speech Shadowing technique comes in.
What is Speech Shadowing technique?
The Speech Shadowing Technique is a language learning method systematized by Alexander Arguelles, an American Professor. For this, all you need is an audio with the language you want to learn which is English. As mentioned before, this technique basically involves repetitive attempts to follow or to shadow what you hear as soon as you hear it.
Through your earphones, listen very carefully to what the native speaker is saying. Even if you don’t understand the exact same words, you must repeat the sounds you hear, immediately following the word that was said while the dialog is running. Use transcriptions to understand the meaning and also for clarity.
That sounds simple but it’s not so easy. You need to have great listening skills in order to catch up. You have to find the audio file with the right speech patterns for your level of proficiency. That is a little complicated when you really try to think about it.
Then again, there is no need to worry. You have come to the right place. In this article, I will show you a step by step guide on how to use the technique effectively.
What kind of speech pattern should you be looking for?
To prepare for the shadowing technique, you need to find the right audio file to use. There are certain requirements an audio file must meet to be considered perfect for the shadowing technique.
Some golden rules to follow:
- The narrator must be a native English speaker.
- The speaker must speak with clarity. Audio files where the speaker is frequently muttering is not ideal.
- Practice shadowing technique using audio files of different speaking paces. It can be on slow speed or native speed. (If you cannot find these types of audio files, I will show you how to adjust the audio speed in one of the succeeding paragraphs).
- Choose high quality recordings. Modern recordings are best because of the absence of crackling noise.
- See to it that the voice of the speaker that you listen to goes up or down, with the right intonation.
- The speaker must observe stress patterns.
- Audio files with subtitles or a transcript is better to practice shadowing technique with. You can read along while you “shadow”. This will make it easier for you to remember what to say.
Where can I find the right audio to practice the Shadowing Technique?
- TED Talks: has a wide variety of talks you can choose from. You can find a lot of interesting lectures about different topics from many different speakers. Also, all the videos have English transcript and subtitles.
- ESL Podcast.
Now let’s talk more about Speech Shadow technique.
How to master your Speech Shadowing technique – A step by step guide
There are two levels of speech in terms of speed: slow shadowing and native shadowing.
Slow speed is half the speed of native speed.
If you are new to using shadowing technique, the best place to start is slow shadowing. Slow shadowing is much easier than native shadowing.
Here’s what you have to do:
- Choose a short audio or video file. Try listening to mini stories and children’s audio books.
- As mentioned a while ago, slow shadowing is half the native speaker speed. If you find the audio file that has both levels of speed, that would be perfect. If you can’t find one, you can use the app Audacity.
- Audacity slows down the native voice by a half. It is an open source, cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing. The best thing about Audacity® is that you can use it free of charge.
- Slow shadowing is better with subtitles or transcript.
- If you’re having a hard time following the audio file closely, pause the audio every after one sentence or after one phrase. Every time you pause the audio, try to say what you have just heard. Play it back again and again while trying to check if you are saying the words correctly. Correct your pronunciation every time you repeat the word.
- If you encounter one particular word that is difficult for you to pronounce, pause the entire audio file and focus on that word until you are able to say it the right way.
- Pay attention to word stress and intonation. As much as possible, copy the way the native English speaker speaks.
A step by step guide: SLOW Shadowing Technique
- 1st: Listen to the entire audio file or clip
- 2nd: Read the subtitles or the transcript if available
- 3rd: Listen to the audio file again but this time, pausing at the end of every sentence.
- 4th: Read the text available if you did not catch on or to simply clarify what you have heard.
- 5th: Try to copy the native speaker and the exact same way he/she speaks.
- 6th: As much as possible, listen and read the text at the same time. Only pause when necessary.
- 7th: Listen and try to shadow correctly if you can.
- 8th Repeat the process. Listen and shadow at the same time.
Native shadowing is a more difficult level of shadowing technique. With native shadowing, you are trying to repeat an audio clip at a native English speaker speed.
A step by step guide: NATIVE Shadowing Technique
1st: Choose a short video clip featuring a native English speaker that you want to sound like. I suggest picking one from a list of TED talk videos available on the internet.
2nd: Listen to the audio file repeatedly. Try to understand what the person is talking about. It is not necessary to understand the exact same words. What’s important is you get the overall thought of what you have heard.
3rd: Copy everything you hear and see the speaker do. Become the speaker, if you know what I mean. Pay attention to the sound, intonation and rhythm. Copy and repeat it all as closely as you can immediately after you hear it.
4th: Once you have grown comfortable using the technique, make an effort to speak simultaneously with the native English speaker on the audio file. Focus on the facial expression and the gestures and try to copy them. Think of it as, somehow, impersonating. You have to imagine yourself as the speaker himself.
Set 30-Day challenge with the Speech Shadowing technique
“30 days is enough time to build a habit,” that is what they say. And indeed, they are right. It’s like trying to achieve 50 squats by starting doing 5 on your first day.
If you keep at it for thirty days, you will be able to maintain it probably for the entire year. The same goes with learning a language. 30 days is also enough to make Speech Shadowing a habit.
You can set slow speed and native speed for practicing. Doing it regularly will make you a fluent English speaker.
Shadowing Technique is best if you have a portable listening device.
You can use your ipod, smart phone, or mp3 player. Why do you need a mobile device for this technique?
According to Arguelles, walking while doing the shadowing technique is more advisable rather than just sitting on a desk. According to him, doing so directly challenges your brain to learn new linguistic input.
Shadowing Technique is one of the most effective methods in improving English fluency.
But just like any other English learning exercises, shadowing technique requires a lot of time, patience, and effort.
If you practice every day, you will surely achieve the level of fluency you want. You will notice great improvement. You might even sound like a real native English speaker!
What are you waiting for? Find an audio file with a native English speaker and start shadowing now!
Did you enjoy reading this article? I do hope you learned a lot from the discussion.
If you have anything in mind that you would like to share, write a comment below and let us know what you think. If you have friends who are also trying to learn English, feel free to click share. I hope you achieve the results you aim for.
Good luck and see you on the next post!