Voice Shadowing: What is it, and can it help you to learn a language?

Voice Shadowing: What is it, and can it help you to learn a language?

Voice shadowing is a language learning technique in which a learner listens to a recording of native speech and repeats the words aloud along with the speaker. The requirements for voice shadowing are simple. All that students need are a pair of headphones and a level-appropriate audio recording in the target language.

Choosing the Right Recording

The length, speed, and complexity of the text are all factors to consider when choosing a recording. At lower levels of proficiency, it can be difficult to find something appropriate, and it is often better (and easier) for teachers to make the recordings themselves. In years gone by, teachers supplied their learners with cassette tapes or CDs, but these days it is much easier to record and distribute audio to students online using a free service such as Record MP3 Online

For beginners, you will probably want to start with simple sentences that the learners can repeat to improve pronunciation and develop automaticity. These sentences can then be combined into short conversational exchanges. Most of the words and structures the learners shadow should be known to them. As they become more proficient, learners are able to cope with longer, more complex texts delivered at a faster pace. It is important to remember that shadowing is a skill like any other, and it is only through regular practice that learners will begin to demonstrate improvement. 

When and How to Shadow

Shadowing in a foreign language requires considerable cognitive resources, and learners (especially those at lower levels of proficiency) can quickly become exhausted. Generally speaking, voice shadowing should be practiced for a fixed interval that gradually increases over time. 

Shadowing should also be done separately from other language learning activities, preferably when the learner is fresh. Teachers with experience of voice shadowing usually recommend that learners do it for several minutes each day after waking up. When done in this way, shadowing can become a valuable part of the learner’s routine and ensure that they continue to improve between lessons.

Shadowing and Recording

To add an element of reflection to voice shadowing practice, Poodll has developed a special Shadow Player that enables learners to record themselves while shadowing a text.Teachers prepare and upload an audio file for the learner to shadow. The player appears as three color-coded controls. The first (green) plays the recording. The second (blue) plays the recording and activates the microphone to record the learner’s speech. The third (pink) plays back the learner’s voice for reflection and comparison.

Reflection adds considerable value to the practice of voice shadowing and accelerates improvement in pronunciation and intonation. Watch this video to learn more about the Poodll Shadow Player. If you would like to test it yourself, visit the Poodll demo site or apply for a free Poodll Net account.

About the Author
the Poodll Guy
The Poodll Guy has been designing software for language learning for the better part of a decade. He believes that the best way to help students to master languages is to equip teachers with the best tools.

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