I read about Dr. Arguelles’ shadowing method long ago on the forums at howtolearnanylanguage.com, but I recently “rediscovered” the method when Geoff linked to Dr. Arguelles’ relatively new site.
Here’s a description of shadowing from Dr. Arguelles’ language study page:
This video [on the page linked above] demonstrates the proper form for using my technique of shadowing or listening to and simultaneously echoing a recording of a foreign language.
In order to shadow most effectively, it is important to observe three points:
1. Walk outdoors as swiftly as possible.
2. Maintain perfectly upright posture.
3. Articulate thoroughly in a loud, clear voice.
I’ve tried doing this with a few Assimil French lessons, and I was surprised by what I found. I did it with lessons I did quite some time ago, lessons which I felt I knew quite well. Simply reading the lessons out loud without shadowing, it felt easy. However, when I tried shadowing them, I discovered that it was far more difficult. I’d practically trip over my own tongue trying to keep up with the native speakers, struggling to say things that I thought I could say quite well.
I like the idea behind shadowing, which, if I understand Dr. Arguelles correctly, works a bit like learning to sing a song. As you listen to the audio and echo it, as long as you’re not tone deaf, you’ll automatically correct your pronunciation to match your speech with what you’re hearing. I’m well acquainted with this idea when it comes to music, as when I sing along with a song in which the singer has an accent, I copy that accent without really meaning to. Trying to force myself to sing without their accent actually feels rather weird, and I can’t do it for very long.
I’m going to keep trying the technique and see if it helps me any. Have you tried shadowing before, and if so, what were your experiences with it?
If you’re interested in the method, you might want to also check out a couple of threads at howtolearnanylanguage.com, in which Dr. Arguelles answers many questions about the method: