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Shadowing for the physically handicapped?

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
Senior Member
United States
Joined 5973 days ago

121 posts - 118 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: German

 Message 1 of 2
21 October 2008 at 9:16am | IP Logged 
Professor Arguelles,

I have read with great interest your writings on the shadowing method of language
acquisition. My understanding is that you place a very high importance upon the
physical aspect of shadowing, i.e. shadowing while engaged in a brisk walk. If I have
incorrectly interpreted this aspect, my question is moot.

There are those of us who are not physically capable of an energetic activity
accompanying shadowing, or any other pursuit. My question is whether you have any
thoughts or student experiences to share regarding modifying shadowing to accommodate disability.

The likely, obvious answer would be that one should perform the shadowing implementing
whatever level of physical activity as can safely be performed by the individual.

I'm also curious as to how much impact would result from a modified, non-optimal
implementation of shadowing? If the physical element is critical, do you feel that
shadowing is not an effective tool for the disabled, or is still well justified
despite the resultant loss of effectiveness?

Thank you again for all of your thoughtful and gracious contributions to the language

Paul Harker
1 person has voted this message useful

United States
Joined 6899 days ago

609 posts - 2102 votes 

 Message 2 of 2
03 November 2008 at 8:43am | IP Logged 
Dear Mr. Harker:

Thank you for your letter, which raises an interesting consideration.

To begin with, yes, the obvious answer is indeed that, if shadowing appeals to you as a technique but you are physically handicapped in such a fashion that prevents you from moving swiftly while you do it, then you will just have to do it while stationary.

Quite obviously, the vast majority of people who have ever learned a foreign language have done so while seated at a desk rather than while striding along a path, so you will be in good company.

That said, I do not believe that the physical activity involved in this method is merely incidental, and it is necessary for its optimal implementation. The main reason for this is that it is a valuable aid to focus and concentration. Sitting in a chair, at a desk or in a booth in a language laboratory, it is not long before the mind begins to wander and/or before one begins to feel bored. Striding swiftly, it is much easier to remain focused on assimilating and internalizing the material. Thus it is that this, in my experience, has proven to the most efficient means of laying in the foundation of an acquaintanceship with a new language.

Clearly, although motion is a means to inducing focus and concentration, it is these that are important, and not motion itself. Thus, the fact that you cannot move does not mean that you ought not to try this method. If you can remain focused upon the material while stationary, it will still be efficacious. If not, however, then you would be better off using some other technique.

Best of wishes to you in your studies!

Alexander Arguelles
1 person has voted this message useful

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