Shadowing - Is it effective and how many people use it frequently?

I’m simply curious about who uses shadowing on a daily basis as a technique to acquire new words and internalize the language they’re learning. Has anyone tried to use it with the lessons at LingQ or is it best to be used with courses such as Assimil? I understand the technique and the process but is it an efficient way to learn languages? I’d love for some replies from people who regularly use this technique and can share some of their results from this technique. Thank you for your time and replies.
(Apologies if a thread has already been created on this topic.)

I am unfamiliar with that term. Can you explain it to me?

I’m guessing he means the Prof Arguelles thing?

(In a way, it’s a kind of version of the audio lingual language lab approach to foreign languages that was very much in vogue in the 1960s and 70s…I think…?)

It means you repeat the words you hear instantly.
There is some more to it, see

(I never used or was even aware of those 12 steps.)

I like the method and used it regularly following the Assimil method for Swedish. I think shadowing helps you notice the words better, and at the same time maybe you diminish the resistance against speaking your target language because you do it from the start.
I didn’t use shadowing when working on lingq texts yet. Here, I sometimes but not always read the texts aloud after I have listened to them, again in order to increase my alertness to what is happening in them.
So, I am not a fundamentalist shadower but I see some advantages in the technique.

I can’t believe I actually USED language labs, カセットテープ (cassette tapes) and テープレコーダー (tape recorders) back in the day! :slight_smile:

It’s how East Germans learned languages.

(And they were pretty darned good - some of 'em!)

Shadowing is supposed to improve fluency and accent in a foreign language.

I’m not so sure about that.

It’s really just training your mouth to talk fast in the new language, but you aren’t spontaneously creating sentences out of your own mind, so it’s not really the same as fluency.

On Arguelles’ Russian videos, I noticed many comments saying his accent isn’t very good. So, I don’t know.

I’ve only used it a couple times just to train my mouth to produce all the sounds of a particularly tricky sentence correctly at speed, usually as an early beginner, but understanding that’s different from developing my own personal fluency, which comes from having a large vocabulary and lots of actual speaking practice.

I wouldn’t expect shadowing to take me to active fluency, either. For this, you have to create your own texts.

It always struck me as something strange. I can’t really how it would work yet, though I do see how some people could get into it.

Steve did a video last year or early this year where he said he found an instance of where it might be helpful. It was measured, but considering he said so after years of (rightfully) being skeptical, I’m willing to believe there is some merit to shadowing. If I were seriously considering doing it, I would check out those vids and wait also to see if some more LingQ people come into this thread with more comments based on actual experience.

In my opinion it doesn’t work at all because all it does is help with pronunciation. :wink:

If it helps with pronunciation, does that mean it doesn’t work at all? Just checking your logic there.

In my experience, not learning correct pronunciation, namely not stressing the correct syllable in a given word, such as happens through reading and not hearing the word spoken by a native speaker, makes it more difficult to recognize the word when you eventually hear it, even in the context of a given sentence. But in some instances, the word really pops out at you when you hear it, precisely because you have been mispronouncing it all along. In fact, I was just watching an interview with actress Rosa da Silva and there were a couple of words that really popped out at me. As Steve would say, I “noticed” them.

In any event (barring a hearing problem or some such disability) a child learns the structure and framework of their mother tongue by hearing it spoken first and only learns to read and expand their vocabulary later. So anything that mimics that process (I can’t speak to speech shadowing specifically, because I have not studied psycholinguistics) would seem to be very beneficial.

From what little I have read about speech shadowing, it seems dubious to me that a person could process syntax and semantics just from repeating heard speech, unless they were already somewhat familiar with said language. I know for a fact that I can sing/recite part of the lyrics to Gangnam Style with relatively good pronunciation without having any idea what the words actually mean.
뛰는 놈 그 위에 나는 놈 Baby baby, 나는 뭘 좀 아는 놈
At the same time, I once translated a song into Spanish, and even though I haven’t spoken Spanish in over 8 years, to this day I can still sing/recite all the words to that song and I know what all the words mean. (I won’t bore you with the words now.) So there is something to be said about putting words and music together, if it is done in the right way.


I have used a version of this with Assimil – which, as a method, is built on the idea of read, listen, and repeat to begin with. “Shadowing” is really just taking an extra step and trying to listen and repeat while keeping up with the pace of the recording.

In my experience, with the right material, it’s an extremely effective technique at every phase of your studies.

I have the same experience with languages and music. I still perfectly remember the words of a Russian poem that I learned by heart about 16 years ago. To make the learning process more pleasant, I created then a melody with some guitar chords :slight_smile: Music is definitely a relative of languages. Also, from my personal observations, people who sing and/or play some instrument have a certain advantage in languages, namely in speaking and listening.


Prof Arguelles didn’t coin the phrase. It’s been used by the language teaching/learning community for a long time (probably over a century), and has a wide variety of definitions. All definitions include listening to and repeating phrases in an attempt to mimic the native speaker. The things that differ include how long you wait and how many times you listen (if at all) before opening your mouth, how many repetitions you do, etc.

Given the simple definition “listening to and repeating phrases in an attempt to mimic the native speaker” I would guess every single language learner that reaches an intermediate level or above in speech/conversation has done this. It may be subconscious or a well defined part of her language learning program.

Is it effective? I would say it’s necessary to reach any kind of a decent level. Personally I prefer to do it systematically, but if you’d prefer not to that’s ok too. How effective systematic study is depends on how it integrates with the rest of your language plan.

Well, yeah. Everybody, even bad language learners, listen and repeat.

However, when someone asks if “shadowing” is effective, they are specifically asking about this fruity exercise:

What they want to know is whether it is worth the risk of looking like this in public, or whether they should simply do it at home or find some other method.

His pronunciation still isn’t very good. Probably needs to sit down and listen more before trying to parrot sounds he’s not yet familiar with.

lol…“sit down and listen.” hehehe