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How does shadowing improve fluency?

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
39 messages over 5 pages: 1 2 3 4 5  Next >>
JasonChoi
Diglot
Senior Member
Korea, South
Joined 3683 days ago

274 posts - 24 votes
Speaks: English*, Korean
Studies: Mandarin, Cantonese, Latin

 
 Message 1 of 39
05 February 2008 at 2:21pm | IP Logged 
Professor Arguelles,

I've been reading much of your comments for quite some time now and I am very thankful that I've come across your insights in language learning.

I have two questions regarding shadowing:

1. How specifically does shadowing improve one's fluency?

I find it a bit difficult for me to believe that shadowing can improve a person's fluency. Is there evidence that shows that shadowing can do such a thing?

2. How is shadowing different from the audio-lingual method?

As a language teacher, shadowing seems to be a bit like the audio-lingual method which is often criticized as an ineffective language teaching method. I realize there are significant differences, but I don't understand how repetitively listening and repeating could improve a person's fluency in a language.

Any comments on this would be greatly appreciated!

-Jason

P.S. I've purchased your book on Korean verb conjugation, and it really encourages me in that I now consciously understand aspects of the language which I had not fully been able to grasp for so many years! :)

Edited by JasonChoi on 05 February 2008 at 2:22pm



zorglub
Pentaglot
Senior Member
France
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441 posts - 64 votes 
1 sounds
Speaks: French*, English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: German, Arabic (Written), Turkish, Mandarin

 
 Message 2 of 39
06 February 2008 at 9:26am | IP Logged 
Well , how it works is one question, but that it works is for me a fact. I say "for me" because I can't swear others will be successful.
But I do feel that it would work for anyone who'd give it a fair try.

I think the IMPORTANT is that the TEXT you so shadow be SMARTLY DESIGNED, and that's where I think Assimil's great strength is: its texts continuously bring new words, new grammatical forms, you can then use the sentences and words you master to modify them and create new ones. Meanwhile, Assimil adds some repetition of things seen earlier, further engraving that into your mind. Obviousy, shadowing any audiobook would not do.

But I don't shadow the way Pr Arguëlles does (I could not because I would not get pleasure doing it, and I'm too lazy), I only start shadowing after I've been able to identify the sounds of the audio track and their meaning, using the book. Then I shadow until I'm ale to do it as an almost simultaneaous echo WHILE understanding or better: thinking what I so utter.

Buy an Assimil set for an easy language and give it a try ! I'd suggest though that you start learning your new language with either Michel Thomas or Pimsleur: audio only so as not to use the wrong supposed paths in your brain. I think that once you've seen a word writtent , it's much more difficult to pronounce it. I only find it useful in a second stage. I think You can start Assimil after 1 or 2 levels of Pimsleur or after the Foundation and "advanced" cours of Michel Thomas.

Now the method should be tested on a large scale to prove it works more than anecdotically. I do feel and I've seen that people who for reasons of their own history , cannot depart from the old style learning patterns, the foolish schoolish ways , the hair shirt way of learning languages as the administrator of this Forum, François Micheloud wrote, those people don't actually give it a fair try because that's not the way you learn languages according to what they deeply believe. Hence they fail and say it does not work.
Cheers
AZ


Edited by zorglub on 06 February 2008 at 9:30am



JasonChoi
Diglot
Senior Member
Korea, South
Joined 3683 days ago

274 posts - 24 votes
Speaks: English*, Korean
Studies: Mandarin, Cantonese, Latin

 
 Message 3 of 39
07 February 2008 at 1:13pm | IP Logged 
Zorglub,

Thank you for your input. I appreciate your feedback. I've dabbled a bit with Michel Thomas (Spanish), and Pimsleur (Cantonese), but these approaches are quite different from Assimil.

So far, these methods seem to be a bit more effective than shadowing, but perhaps this is because I may not be doing it correctly. Often times, I find shadowing a bit boring. It has also been proven that the audio-lingual method is ineffective for language teaching, which leads me wonder how it is different from shadowing.

I'm hoping that an understanding of how it works can lead me to know what I am doing or not doing properly.



zorglub
Pentaglot
Senior Member
France
Joined 4324 days ago

441 posts - 64 votes 
1 sounds
Speaks: French*, English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: German, Arabic (Written), Turkish, Mandarin

 
 Message 4 of 39
07 February 2008 at 6:03pm | IP Logged 
Well shadowing (for my type of learning, which is one for the lazy, since I don't have too much time and I have to prefer methods that do not stick me to a book or computer, and I can't shadow without first understanding the text and identifying the sounds), shadowing is for me a step after a method like Michel Thomas or ¨Pimsleur, but these do not give you enough vocabulary, and the first one does not expose to different speakers, and samples I heard of Micjel thomas old recordings (French, Italian; Spanish ...) well, he has a terrible accent, not that of a native, even though he stresses words correctly. So you really need to be immersed abroad or exposed to different speakers. I regret Assimil is often too slow. Not the last German version, though. But the Arabic is awful I gave it up.

Shadowing , well you can certainly find somewhere the link to Pr arguelles' definition. The shadowing I myself did before I discovered it had been named shadowing here, is an immediate echo repetition of the text so as to mtch the pronunciation as closely as possible, and i deem my objective reached when i so can do , fast, accurate, while understanding and even better: thinking what I say. And as I take pleasure in being able to sound Italian or Germanetc... that makes me happy enough so that I don't get bored. It happens , though, but once I've been using the book to decipher the audio, I work with the CDs in my car, and almost never look up the text at a stop. And I rarely have better to do while running or driving , or running an errand.

JasonChoi wrote:
Zorglub,
Thank you for your input. I appreciate your feedback. I've dabbled a bit with Michel Thomas (Spanish), and Pimsleur (Cantonese), but these approaches are quite different from Assimil.

So far, these methods seem to be a bit more effective than shadowing, but perhaps this is because I may not be doing it correctly. Often times, I find shadowing a bit boring. It has also been proven that the audio-lingual method is ineffective for language teaching, which leads me wonder how it is different from shadowing.

I'm hoping that an understanding of how it works can lead me to know what I am doing or not doing properly.



fat_hot
Diglot
Newbie
United States
Joined 3706 days ago

8 posts
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Russian, Mandarin

 
 Message 5 of 39
08 February 2008 at 12:51pm | IP Logged 
Hello, I have a question about the shadowing technique specifically and language learning techniques in general. Are there any scientific studies on the comparative effectiveness of shadowing compared to other techniques? What about a general survey of the pros and cons of different techniques?

I've seen a claim that the audio-lingual technique has "been proven ineffective"; my own experience would seem to contradict that, but I'd like to see what the empirical research says.

Is there a scientific journal or a web site that you can recommend that is a good resource for finding studies of this nature?

Thanks in advance,
James



Captain Haddock
Diglot
Senior Member
Japan
kanjicabinet.tumblr.
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Speaks: English*, Japanese
Studies: French, Korean, Ancient Greek

 
 Message 6 of 39
08 February 2008 at 8:09pm | IP Logged 
I have a book called Introducing Second Language Acquisition (Saville-Troike) which delves into various aspects of language learning and acquisition. I don't know if it's exactly what you're looking for, but it does provide a lot of insights into the process.

There have also been various journal articles published on vocabulary retention experiments. A Google search should bring up a few PDFs.

Edited by Captain Haddock on 08 February 2008 at 8:10pm



ProfArguelles
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foreignlanguageexper
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 Message 7 of 39
10 February 2008 at 5:40pm | IP Logged 
When you shadow properly, you put the correct resonance of a new speech form directly into your auditory system and simultaneously seek to match that resonance with your vocal output. To whatever degree you are not tone deaf, you will organically perceive any mismatch as the equivalent of a musical note out of tune and, to the degree that you have talent, you will naturally and instinctively seek to correct this mismatch upon repetition by changing your output. If you get into the physical habit of reciting entire dialogues aloud and correctly, how can this fail to improve your fluency?

I became the polyglot I am by doing this, and searching this forum you will easily find much testimony from others that variations upon this technique work well for them, too. If it does not work for you, there are three possible explanations:
a) perhaps you are doing it incorrectly—and from my experience in instructing others, it takes some real training to do it right—or
b) perhaps you have a very different style of learning and there are other techniques that are more appropriate for you, or
c) perhaps you are relatively tone deaf/lacking musical talent.

What kind of scientific evidence or proof of this would you consider acceptable? Must it be a properly documented study published in a peer-reviewed academic journal of applied linguistics? Then I am afraid you will never find one as this is just not the trend in contemporary “research,” and that is ultimately all you will find in these “empirical” publications—trends. That is what happened to audio-lingual methods in general—the trends turned away from them, but they were most certainly not replaced by anything better. Far from it, the general level of material for learning languages that was produced in the 1950’s and the 1960’s was far more sophisticated than most of that which is produced today.

7 persons have voted this message useful



fat_hot
Diglot
Newbie
United States
Joined 3706 days ago

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Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Russian, Mandarin

 
 Message 8 of 39
10 February 2008 at 9:23pm | IP Logged 
Hello Professor Arguelles,

I didn't realize there was already a forum on this subject, or I would have posted my question here to begin with.

I'm not sure if you were responding to me or to JasonChoi with your question, "What kind of scientific evidence or proof of this would you consider acceptable?" Based on the wording of your question, I fear I may have offended you, which was certainly not my intention.

To give you some more context, I am a language student (of Spanish and Russian) who has worked as a volunteer teaching English as a second language to adults and children. When teaching English, I consider it my responsibility to try to use the most effective teaching techniques possible, and so (based on what has worked best in my own language learning experience) I have been relying heavily on audio-lingual techniques. However, I recently encountered some references that said that the audio-lingual technique was shown to be ineffective in certain studies, which implied to me that those studies must have shown that some other technique was more effective. For this reason, and for the efficiency of my own language studies, I am interested in what the research shows about the comparative effectiveness of different techniques.

For example, the Wikipedia entry on the Audio-lingual method refers to a book called "The Psychologist and the Foreign Language Teacher" by Wilga Rivers, but doesn't give citations for the mentioned follow-up studies:

   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio-lingual_method

If you can recommend some specific research papers, web sites that are good places to find empirical research, or even the names of some researchers, I would appreciate it.

As for the effectiveness of the shadowing technique, I assume from your response that there have been no such studies. If not, what would such an experiment look like? I imagine it would be easy enough to design. For instance, one group studies using shadowing for an hour a day, while the other group studies using some other technique for an hour a day. At the end of the week, the groups are tested for their improvement in active vocabulary recall, passive vocabulary recall, knowledge of grammar, or some other well-defined metrics. Does that sound reasonable?

James




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