Fantastic Language LearningTip: Shadowing A Foreign Language

Fantastic Language Learning Tip: Shadowing A Foreign Language

Have you ever tried shadowing a foreign language?  Shadowing is a language learning technique developed by the American Professor and language specialist, Alexander Arguelles. It’s a great technique for anyone learning a foreign language to try.

shadowing a foreign language

All you need is some sort of portable listening device like an iPod (remember them) or a decent mobile phone, a set of headphones and a good (and preferably interesting) recording of your target language.

You simply go outside and walk around briskly whilst listening to the recording of a native-speaker dialogue and repeat in a loud, clear voice, exactly what you hear.

To make it easier, you could try holding and reading a transcription of what you are listening to at the same time.

It is advised to be walking briskly, in a good, upright posture, as you listen and repeat the dialogue, as this boosts oxygenation and alertness of the brain, which in turn maximises the overall learning process.

Watch the video below to get an idea of this unorthodox language learning technique in action and note how useful one language learner (asterexcel) found the technique, by commenting (on Youtube): 

Prof Arguelles is spot on with this approach. I thought it was crazy at first, but then used it — and it makes a HUGE difference to the way you absorb language. Slouch around and your body relaxes, feeling no need to learn or adapt. Get moving, and your body is more alert, ready, and capable of taking in information. Thanks, Mr Arguelles, for making a big difference to my learning!

Shadowing A Foreign Language – Chinese


The technique of “shadowing” may seem a little odd to you and you may think others may find you strange, but here are some added benefits according to author and language writer Michael Erard (as written here):

  • It gets you used to people looking at you when you’re doing something new, so it reduces the embarrassment factor.
  • It also hooks up kinetics to the language, so it engages those gross motor skills and makes you less focused on what’s going on with your mouth and tongue.
  • It exercises your working memory, which is key to learning a foreign language.
  • Another key is making the experience enjoyable. To acquire any language, you need to repeat words and phrases often, so repeat things you like. When we do something pleasurable, dopamine is released in the brain and that makes us want to do it again.

What To Do If You Don’t Like the Idea Of Shadowing In Public

If you don’t feel bold enough to walk around “shadowing“outside, as Alexander Arguelles does in the video above, you could perhaps try it indoors in the privacy of your own home, although you won’t get all the benefits as described above.

Another variation on the theme of shadowing is to try and find online videos with captions and repeat word for word what you hear the native speaker say.

The next clip is an example of a video you could use for this idea.

Note, too, that if you watch this video, and others like it, on Youtube, you will find the full transcript in the description below the video if you click on “Show more”.

You could copy this, print it off, download the video and convert it to an MP3 file which you could then play on your portable Mp3 player and use for “shadowing” exactly as advised at the beginning of this post.

The Language Learning Technique of Shadowing From Steve Kaufmann

More on Shadowing A Foreign Language From Alexander Arguelles

Please let us know what you think of this technique. Have you ever tried it? Would you be bold enough to walk around outside, loudly repeating a foreign dialogue?

And don’t forget to ‘like’ and ‘share’ this post using the buttons on the <============= left .   We really appreciate it when you do! 🙂

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