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Learning Article : How To Sound Like A Native Speaker In A Second Language

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How To Sound Like A Native Speaker In A Second Language

Just like trying to play note-for-not with your favorite songs when learning a musical instrument, the technique of "shadowing" in language learning challenges you to keep pace and tone with a native speaker. The challenge is not to repeat what they have said, but to say it indistinguishably and at the same time. Learn more about this approach and how to make the most of it in this article.

Sep 22, 2016 12:00 AM
Comments · 40

Ohh It's really a nice technique to master the accent and pronunciation.I used to do it by watching the video on a site called as it provides all US,UK and AUS English with subtitle and one can search a word in it and it will give the video in which that word has used.But I didn't know that this technique is called "Shadowing".Nice to something new.

Thank you very much for sharing this:)

September 22, 2016

To Dan Smith, Alan and Sudeep:
Thanks for sharing your helpful tips.

To 西西宝贝714  and Adriano:
With all due respect, I don't think it's hard to find proper audio or videos. There are heaps just on Youtube. Talking about the pace, as I've mentioned in the article as well, you can start with short video lessons which definitely have a slower pace than natural speed. 

To Lola and Rafael:

I'm glad you've found it useful. 

To Rafael:

If you do it for a short time, then yes, it won't last long. Once you do it regularly (in a long run) it will be internalized and you won't lose your mastery any longer. 

September 22, 2016

To Steven,

Thanks for your contribution to the discussion. 

I think what you said below

"Learning to overcome an accent in a foreign is the domain of a person knowledgeable in linguistics with a thorough understanding of both the person's native and target languages and how sounds are formed in each language, how they are alike and how they are different."

is the same as saying a kid should know linguistics to become able to learn a second language. This is not the case. As I've seen many language learners who could answer a grammar question correctly while they didn't know why. Indeed, it is not always rules that language learners need to learn and follow. 

September 30, 2016

The shadowing as it is does not completely work. 

To listen and to repeat as it goes is not enough. In this way you will not be able to catch all nuances only by listening and repeating. For good imitation, you have to record yourself by short pieces, make corrections by listening your talk "from aside" and compare it with the original. Start from about 20-30 sec. (or even less) extracts, and only after a good drill go on to the their combinations as big ones. It's rather tedious, slow, but works.

September 23, 2016

Very useful article about a little-known technique! I love using the free, downloadable programme "Audacity" to shadow. Here's just some of the things you can do with Audacity:

- Slow down the speech without affecting quality (too much)

- Break the audio into manageable "chunks" (each a few seconds long)

- Loop a 1.5 second segment over and over, just to really nail the difficult passages

- "Clean up" the audio using compression and noise-removal

- Literally see the audio as a sound wave, so you can line up the spikes and dips between your audio and the original

...the possibilities are endless.

September 22, 2016
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Language Skills
English, German, Persian (Farsi), Spanish
Learning Language
English, Spanish