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How does shadowing improve fluency?

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
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Andy_Liu
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Hong Kong
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Speaks: Mandarin, Cantonese*, EnglishC2
Studies: French

 
 Message 17 of 39
01 March 2008 at 11:46pm | IP Logged 
I am afraid that I might share some feelings of Zorglub. I did not have enough time for any language lately, but several random, simple French phrases have already been appearing in my mind whenever I was thinking of French sounds. Since I like French sounds, when I was telling others how I felt, I was able to tell their uniqueness by just speaking those phrases aloud. I can tell how distinct they are from any language I already know. At this point, I think it is starting to pay off for my having blind-shadowed French even only briefly. Somehow I think it is reminiscent of a baby hearing random sounds of its parents’ native language(s) which would probably be its own first language(s). I wonder if this is one reason why, professor, you are advocating shadowing in this fashion.

However, I have been aware of whether I should be remembering my first utterances produced, perhaps as incorrectly as a baby, but as a conscious learner. I am afraid that I might be ignoring the very subtle differences between phonemes of a target language (like French) and those of my familiar languages, and hence it has been tempting for me to try to read transcriptions, which does help. Having said that, I am also concerned about how tedious it could become to use transcriptions as auxiliary, almost exactly like how everyone learns Mandarin with pinyin.

I hope I am not discussing this somewhat repetitively: referring to “Ideal Systematic Approach to Korean”, in what ways may your approach to Korean be adopted as a holistic approach to learning a language in general, esp. the six pronged approach you have outlined? Would it be appropriate to say your Assimil approach is a part of it and considered as a beginning stage?
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Serpent
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 Message 18 of 39
02 March 2008 at 12:08pm | IP Logged 
ProfArguelles wrote:
If your field of study is language acquisition, then you ought to be a polyglot, but I have never known an applied linguist who had any range or depth of mastery in foreign languages.
It was so offending to see the science of applied linguistics in quote signs, that I didn't even read further and missed this claim. Would you PLEASE not use "language acquisition" and "applied linguistics" interchangeably? I do hope you didn't mean that lexicography or e.g. stylistics have done harm to language learning materials.

PS For an example of an applied linguist with a mastery of foreign languages (specifically, the Germanic ones) you can read here about R. Potapova, the head of the applied linguistics department in Moscow State Linguistic University.




Sorry for offtopic. Now on shadowing: do you find that if you read a lot in the language it's not necessary to do it, as a means of maintaining speaking skills, as often as if you don't read much? This week I've spent nearly all my free time reading The Lord Of The Rings in Finnish, and even though I hadn't done any shadowing for at least 5 days, when I did some today I didn't feel that my speaking had become slightly rusty, as I normally do after taking a break from shadowing for a reason or another.

Edited by Serpent on 02 March 2008 at 12:26pm

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zorglub
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 Message 19 of 39
02 March 2008 at 2:25pm | IP Logged 
ProfArguelles wrote:
...I have never known an applied linguist who had any range or depth of mastery in foreign languages...


Prof Arguelles, I do not know what an applied linguist is, but I know of one "linguiste" a "professeur de linguistique", who seems to be a real polyglot with a deep mastery of a few languages at least. That's Claude Hagege (4 links hereunder, the book list contains a few books from 2 others Hagege but they can readily be Identified.

I've seen him a few times on French TV, he is a brilliant man, very impressive, one you dopn't forget, and I've heard him speak different languages, including one time when he was actually compelled to speak Chinese (He tried not to make a show, being a simple man) . But the journalist (a cultural broadcast journalist) pressed him to speak Mandarin with a Chinese guest on the plateau (an author). So he eventually accepted and started uttering sounds that diod sound real Chinese to me at the time, until the Chinese guest burst out in laughter... and that's what I remember of (some 20 years ago I think so....
(Journalist) he does not speak Chinese ?
(Chinese Author) yes yes he perfectly does, but he is now trying to test me to see if I'm a genuine Chinese !
So we have one. The exception to the rule ?

Well you can check the interview here , for some reason, I can't play the video here in the hospital:
http://www.ina.fr/archivespourtous/index.php?vue=notice&id_n otice=I00013428
Those who speak Mandarin , could you please tell wether he speaks good Mandarin ?


Alceste Zorglub

http://tinyurl.com/24eyjv
and USA amazon: http://tinyurl.com/2scxr2
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Hag%C3%A8ge
On this CNRS (A French Resaerch Institute they said this:
http://www.cnrs.fr/cw/fr/nomi/prix/Or95/or95.html


Edited by zorglub on 02 March 2008 at 2:50pm

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ProfArguelles
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 Message 20 of 39
02 March 2008 at 7:04pm | IP Logged 
James,

I find it very difficult to compare my shadowing technique and the audio-lingual method used in Pimsleur courses. On the one hand, they are both pieces of fruit (i.e., methods for learning a foreign language), but on the other, they are so different as to be the proverbial apples and oranges. Thus, someone who finds one of these methods effective will probably not find the other so congenial. I personally do not care for Pimsleur courses. I have never learned a language with one and I do not believe I could because I find myself swiftly getting bored and frustrated whenever I try. I do not like being tied to English language prompting instead of being immersed in the sounds of my target language, and I do not like speaking in pauses that are almost always either too long or too short. In answer to your specific question about shadowing entire chapters and the effect of rehearsing the already learned vs. adding the new—this is a perennial problem and challenge in any method and not at all restricted to shadowing. Shadowing the way I propose it causes you to go over the same material repeatedly, understanding it on a deeper level each time, but when that stops, it is certainly time to move on.


Mr. Lindqvist,

Blind shadowing first and foremost when learning the phonetics of a language like Korean forces you listen more carefully and to reproduce the sounds you actually hear rather than attempting the approximate associations you will be given in any description of the sounds of the language.

When working through an Assimil or Linguaphone type method by shadowing, blind shadowing each lesson initially before listening to the text forces your mind to understand as much as it can on its own. You only need do this once or twice before looking at the text for clarification, but if you look at the text first and foremost, you will understand more when you listen/shadow, but you will not know how much you would have understood without doing this.


Mr. Xie,

The answer I gave in response to an ideal systematic approach to Korean can certainly be adopted as a general holistic approach to languages, but please remember that this was the approach to be taken for a class IV language, i.e., an extremely difficult one; the approach could be tempered somewhat to respectively greater degrees for class III, II, and I languages.


Ms. Evdokimova and Zorglub,

I truly regret that I clumsily and inadvertently slandered Professors Potapova and Hagege. Please accept my earnest apologizes for any offense that I caused. Of course, there must be some linguists who know a fair number of languages, and indeed it would not surprise me if there were a higher proportion of polyglots in this profession than in any other. However, my point is that everyone who is professionally concerned with how languages are learned ought to learn languages himself first and foremost before spinning theories. In the world in which we live, however, theories are considered far more important than substance, and consequently most contemporary linguists would be quite at home in the academy of Laputa.

Certainly, when you become more advanced in a language, to the point where you can read a great deal in it, you do not need to shadow as much as a means of maintaining your speaking skills. Shadowing can be used at the advanced level to maintain contact with a language, but it is really more of a learner’s technique.

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zorglub
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France
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 Message 21 of 39
02 March 2008 at 10:14pm | IP Logged 
Prof Arguelles, I did not feel offended even by proxy. And by the way Hagege does not work on language teaching, nor learning, but if I'm not mistaken , on the structures origins and many other features (he was interested in phonemology) of languages. It happens I admire his swift mind. I read one book of his, but another i could not decipher...
AZ

ProfArguelles wrote:

Ms. Evdokimova and Zorglub,

I truly regret that I clumsily and inadvertently slandered Professors Potapova and Hagege. Please accept my earnest apologizes for any offense that I caused. Of course, there must be some linguists who know a fair number of languages, and indeed it would not surprise me if there were a higher proportion of polyglots in this profession than in any other. However, my point is that everyone who is professionally concerned with how languages are learned ought to learn languages himself first and foremost before spinning theories. In the world in which we live, however, theories are considered far more important than substance, and consequently most contemporary linguists would be quite at home in the academy of Laputa.

Certainly, when you become more advanced in a language, to the point where you can read a great deal in it, you do not need to shadow as much as a means of maintaining your speaking skills. Shadowing can be used at the advanced level to maintain contact with a language, but it is really more of a learner’s technique.

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Iversen
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 Message 22 of 39
09 March 2008 at 8:10pm | IP Logged 
Prof. Arguelles,

Because I'm going to visit Russia in the near future I have spent quite a lot of time on my Russian during the last month or so, and with more time spent each day on a single language I have had to diversify my methods in order not to get bored. So I also tried out the shadowing method as described here (except that I didn't walk), but it didn't function for me. However there is a reason for this, namely that when I speak mostly hear my own talk and all the details in what is said from outside get lost in the process. Besides I find it very tiring to try to compete with somebody else, even if it is a recorded voice (or maybe that is even part of the problem, because it just keeps going and going). This problem is probably something that could be eliminated through hours of training, but right now I haven't got time. Instead I have concluded that I have to do two things instead of one, namely shadow-THINKING and reading aloud, partly things I have heard, but mostly things I only have in their written form.

Reading aloud is necessary because it takes stamina and practice to pronounce all those foreign sounds (even if I have a pretty idea about what I'm aiming for I still have to be able to do it). So I'll just have to leave some time for that, - and for talking to myself, which I can do when I'm walking to the bus or alone at at home. It is a fairly mechanical function, not something with deep theoretical ramifications.

However shadowing silently is more congenial to the way I function. It struck me that I have described something similar in another context (namely how to learn to understand without translating mentally): I then described this kind of listening as 'following the speaker like a bloodhound follows a trail', i.e. without deliberately trying to understand what is said, but just parsing it into words and sentences and hoping for the epiphany moment where the meaning seemingly just appear out of the blue. In reality this moment only comes when you already know quite a lot of the language, and for me it certainly won't occur until long after I had learnt to read fluently. But this concerns only the meaning aspect, - to me the basic activity of listening, parsing and and even 'writing' the words on some kind of mental subtitle line does seem to have something in common with shadowing, except that you have to open your mouth to shadow.

For those who can speak and listen carefully at the same time shadowing may be a very efficient technique, but I feel that I get a better result when I separate the actual talking from the listening process. And I can think for much longer than I can speak without getting tired.

I would like to hear whether you have heard about this situation from your students and what you then suggested them to do. Maybe also whether you have seen differences in the effectiveness of shadowing (in the normal way) between beginners and more advanced students. My guess would be that anything based on speaking would be much less taxing and more rewarding for those who already speak a certain language, because they just can let the words flow almost effortless. Beginners and even intermediates might forget to listen because they struggle with the basic aspects of talking.

Niels Johs.Legarth Iversen


Edited by Iversen on 10 March 2008 at 6:18am

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Ruan
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 Message 23 of 39
16 March 2008 at 3:05pm | IP Logged 
Foreign language study is not a very exciting activity. If given opportunity, your mind and body will say together "Why bother? Why are you repeating these senseless sounds and reading these hideous scripts? Let's find something more appealing."

When you shadow or practice scriptorium, you are doing activities that your brain were trained to spend so much concentration as possible : walking and writing. However, even if you practice these techniques perfectly, some problems may arise.

The commonest one is about shadowing.

The first kind of shadowing is done when you are in the very early stage of the language. You feel that it is impossible to reproduce these sounds and you frequently get lost in the middle of the recording, maybe after the first few seconds. In this kind of situation, I shadow short pieces of audio of 5 seconds until I am familiar with the sounds of the language and then capable of shadowing longer texts. Short texts narrated by clear voice is preferable; poetry is the best (because you can shadow verse by verse ).

The second kind of shadowing is done to the improve your understading rather than your speaking, and so longer texts will be used and you will rarely shadow without reading.

_________________________________

I discovered almost instinctively how to take advantage of time that otherwise would be lost ( driving, waiting rooms etc ): just speak aloud texts you know by heart. It is a effective way of reviewing, and can be very exciting with meaningful texts ( poetry, classical books of the target culture¹ ). I found it out to be more effective than flashcards, especially when I have a piece of paper next to me so I can write the text while I speak it².


¹: In my present situation, Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" and Confucius "Analects".
²: It's even more valuable to semanto-phonetic alphabets, it just don't let the ideograms go away.

Edited by Ruan on 16 March 2008 at 3:07pm

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ChristopherB
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 Message 24 of 39
16 March 2008 at 8:57pm | IP Logged 
I might add a voice of agreement or understanding to Iversen's post. I also find a great deal of enjoyment in simply listening to an audiobook and reproducing the language in thoughts or separately by reading aloud to myself. In fact, this is a core element of Steve Kaufmann's studies and something I had been doing with French quite a while before I discovered this board. I can, however, very clearly see the benefits of being able to shadow an audiobook well. I was a little put off last week in my somewhat failed attempts to correctly shadow and keep up with the excellent narrator on an audiobook I have of Franz Kafka's Die Verwandlung, but I take the Professor's advice very seriously and am determined to at least give this a fair go.


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