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Shadowing demonstration video

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
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Volte
Tetraglot
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Switzerland
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 Message 49 of 56
03 April 2009 at 11:02pm | IP Logged 
I realize your previous post was not addressed to me, but the previous poster's misunderstandings were so similar to mine that I nonetheless hope my reply can be of some value.

ProfArguelles wrote:
I am afraid it appears that you have misunderstood the nature of shadowing. You are to be highly commended for sticking with it with one minute segments nonetheless, however, for I myself would find working with such a limited amount to be so tediously redundant that I would long since have abandoned the endeavor. I hope and believe that once you come to a clearer understanding of how you could be doing this in a more enjoyable fashion, that that very experience of enjoying your studies will lead you to be able to develop systematically regular habits, for this is the true key to success.


I entirely shared this misunderstanding. My 2-month experiment the summer before last revolved around shadowing one Assimil lesson per language per day, for a total time of 2 hours - and, by personal preference and noting what worked best for me, these 2 hours were usually in one contiguous block, at the end of the day.

ProfArguelles wrote:

It seems as if you are under the impression that the purpose of shadowing is to permanently memorize material, forcibly and all at once. This is just not the case. It sounds, in essence, as if you are trying to cram the material into your brain. Now, while cramming may produce short term results, it is never a good study procedure.


Indeed, this is the result. I can still recite large chunks of several of the Assimil lessons I used in this manner, although my recall is not perfect on all of them.

You've previously written about considering yourself 'done' when you are able to 'play' the advanced Assimil lessons in your head while you are in the shower. I see looking back that you addressed explicit memorization in your reply to pentatonic on the following page, but I don't seem to have been the only one who misunderstood or misremembered what you meant.

ProfArguelles wrote:

Why are you trying to remember the material at all, and why do you aspire to match the recording perfectly by the 5th repetition? Instead of memorization, your focus should be upon understanding,


I generally don't try to remember the material; if I shadow short segments repeatedly, it just happens.

Why do I aspire to match the recording perfectly? Many reasons: I thought this was part of the aim of shadowing, I prefer that to doing it imperfectly (all else being equal), and once the meaning is entirely clear, it's the most obvious goal for the rest of a 10-30 minute session with one Assimil lesson.

As for understanding: I understand better when I am silent, rather than shadowing. I find shadowing a barrier to understanding, unless my understanding was already quite solid already.

ProfArguelles wrote:

and instead of perfection, you goal should be improvement.


With repeated shadowing, I tend to hit a point where I'm simply not improving more - if anything, I'm getting worse. I find this true in general with tackling difficult phonemes or intonation patterns head-on through repetition.

ProfArguelles wrote:

As long as you understand a bit more with each repetition and as long as you can match the rhythm of your voice to the fixed audio a bit better each time, you are making progress.


By this metric, I've wasted the vast majority of the time I've spent shadowing.

ProfArguelles wrote:

The best way to do this profitably and enjoyably is to focus on the content of the didactic dialogues and narratives or the plot of the novel or story, as the case may be, and in so doing come, over time, to increase your vocabulary by learning words from and in their living context, internalize sentence patterns and correct grammatical forms, and continue to match your pronunciation and intonation against a correct model. Thus, in specific answer to your question about whether there is any fundamental basic adjustment when using Assimil vs. using an audio book or novel, the answer is no because presumably you should be at a much higher level already to even conceive of using the latter.


I fail to conceive of how you initially start with 15 minute segments. Do you do this even for phonologically difficult languages in language families which are new to you, or am I misunderstanding something?

ProfArguelles wrote:

As to your second point, while I cannot understand how you can measure so precisely that you get 92% and fail to get 8%, I think this whole problem of knots should take care of itself and become moot once you adjust to the above way of looking at the whole procedure and switch from 1 minute segments to 15, 20, or even 30 minute segments depending on how long you can stay sustainably focused on the process.


In my limited experience, that just lets me gloss over the pronunciation errors and fail to improve on them; the pronunciation that results may be comprehensible, but it is not pleasant. On the other hand, it's adequate for vocabulary and grammar consolidation.

Catalin Martone

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jeff_lindqvist
Diglot
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 Message 50 of 56
04 April 2009 at 2:44am | IP Logged 
I think the explanations have been crystal clear - every Youtube-clip has confirmed that I have been doing "the right thing" (even before I read about the method). I fail to see how people tend to think of shadowing as memorization, and regarding the "shower" quote, I interpret this more like an "accidental memorization". With the risk of repeating myself (I am sure I have mentioned this several times on the forum), I have used a method similar to shadowing to get familiar with a lot of melodies. I have played along to records (not riff for riff, but rather CDs from beginning to end), just as I now shadow language audio. The aim is not perfection, but improvement. A different discipline, yes, but still just about the same method. If I find myself humming a tune in my head, then I know that I "know" it, and can go on to new material.

Volte wrote:
I fail to conceive of how you initially start with 15 minute segments. Do you do this even for phonologically difficult languages in language families which are new to you, or am I misunderstanding something?


No problem for me. I've shadowed Irish and Cornish for 15 minutes at a time. I could probably not fool a Martian that I was a native speaker, just as little as I could not play solo violin in an orchestra solely based on my "music shadowing", and so on. But the practice gives me a feeling that I am getting "functional" in another way than if I had "just" focused on minute details, e.g. isolated sounds, minimal pairs, intonation, "riffs" et.c. That kind of practice is good to, but for quicker "functionality" (something which may very well just exist in my own imagination), I am perfectly happy with the results (I feel that) I get from shadowing.

Jeff Lindqvist
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Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 4982 days ago

4474 posts - 6725 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 51 of 56
04 April 2009 at 4:32am | IP Logged 
jeff_lindqvist wrote:
I think the explanations have been crystal clear - every Youtube-clip has confirmed that I have been doing "the right thing" (even before I read about the method). I fail to see how people tend to think of shadowing as memorization, and regarding the "shower" quote, I interpret this more like an "accidental memorization".


I don't see shadowing as memorization - that is, however, one side effect of how I've mistakenly done it.


jeff_lindqvist wrote:

Volte wrote:
I fail to conceive of how you initially start with 15 minute segments. Do you do this even for phonologically difficult languages in language families which are new to you, or am I misunderstanding something?


No problem for me. I've shadowed Irish and Cornish for 15 minutes at a time. I could probably not fool a Martian that I was a native speaker, just as little as I could not play solo violin in an orchestra solely based on my "music shadowing", and so on. But the practice gives me a feeling that I am getting "functional" in another way than if I had "just" focused on minute details, e.g. isolated sounds, minimal pairs, intonation, "riffs" et.c. That kind of practice is good to, but for quicker "functionality" (something which may very well just exist in my own imagination), I am perfectly happy with the results (I feel that) I get from shadowing.

Jeff Lindqvist


I find shadowing short segments (perhaps 45 seconds to 5 minutes, depending on the difficulty) quite helpful for the reason you state - my quibble above was that I don't feel I gain a deeper understanding from it. I'll have to try shadowing longer chunks, it seems.

Catalin Martone



Edited by Volte on 04 April 2009 at 4:32am

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parasitius
Diglot
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United States
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Speaks: English*, Mandarin
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 Message 52 of 56
04 April 2009 at 10:57am | IP Logged 
Dear Professor,

Thank you for the clarifications. Volte's previous post really covers the majority of the reasons I believe I was so mistaken about how to practice shadowing properly. Honestly, though I feel a bit guilty as if I haven't read your posts carefully enough, I'm not even sure that it isn't just the fact that your approach overall is so diametrically opposite any concept of language learning I have previously heard of that without copious details I will subconsciously interpret what you say in terms of my existing mental model of learning. So rather than requesting a detailed reply for each point I mention below, I'm writing most of all with the hope that if this message gives you a better idea of the root of my mistaken conception, you can include this understanding in your explanations in the next video and save anyone else who has also gotten the wrong impression from going down the path I have with this.

Foremost amongst reasons I would have never thought you intended for such long non-repeated segments of audio to be employed is that I can't quite conceive of how I can remember the meanings of the many new words I encounter in a novel (audio book) if I don't repeat segments of audio within a single learning session. You've mentioned that you do not spend any time explicitly memorizing vocabulary, so I just assumed that you must be remembering the words by the imprint the narrator's voice makes on one's head when listening to short segments repeatedly. I can look up a few words that are impossible to guess from context before shadowing a short segment, and then after hearing the narrator's voice pronouncing it in the context of a sentence 5-10 times, it seems to 'sink in' deep enough that I will at least be fairly likely to remember it the next time I shadow the same segment. If I only hear the narrator speak the word that I looked up once, I'm fairly confident the next time I will only remember that: "oh! there is the word I looked up, but I have no idea what it means". (In fact, to be more precise, if I look up a few words a few minutes before shadowing, usually I will not actually be able to call the meanings of those words to memory until the 4th or 5th listening to the same audio segment as it takes that long for my brain to process the surrounding text to such a point that I have left over brain power to concentrate on the entirely new words sticking out in the sentences.)

I know you advise against dictionary (ab)use, so please don't misinterpret the above paragraph. I guess I'm trying to say that I still don't know exactly how to deal with new words. I do realize that if I didn't know the word 'kite' and then read a story about playing with a kite that I would soon figure out the word and have it repeated so frequently within that same story that I could hardly fail to remember exactly the way the word is used by the end of a single shadowing session. In a novel, however, there are a great many words which are going to be used but a single time inside of a hundred pages and which do not lend themselves to being guessed so easily from but a sentence of context which directly relates to the word. So, should one give no concern at all to what individual words might mean if it isn't immediately obvious and just try to pronounce them properly while shadowing? I'm thinking that you might advise me to find a much easier text in Japanese where I know almost every word, but with starting Assimil French from lesson 1 I have encountered the same new word issue as every word is French is completely alien and new to me.

To amend a few of Volte's points with my take:

Volte wrote:

ProfArguelles wrote:

The best way to do this profitably and enjoyably is to focus on the content of the didactic dialogues and narratives or the plot of the novel or story, as the case may be, and in so doing come, over time, to increase your vocabulary by learning words from and in their living context, internalize sentence patterns and correct grammatical forms, and continue to match your pronunciation and intonation against a correct model. Thus, in specific answer to your question about whether there is any fundamental basic adjustment when using Assimil vs. using an audio book or novel, the answer is no because presumably you should be at a much higher level already to even conceive of using the latter.


I fail to conceive of how you initially start with 15 minute segments. Do you do this even for phonologically difficult languages in language families which are new to you, or am I misunderstanding something?


I'm having the same trouble understanding here as Volte. Maybe I can get a grasp on your mental model and how shadowing fits into acquisition overall if I ask it this way: How should I proceed with a new language if I am starting with Assimil lesson one and wish to employ shadowing? The first day with lesson one, there is only one minute of audio to work with, not 15-30. My old concept was to memorize each individual word with a flash card, and then play the audio pausing over and over to make sure I could understand individual words aurally. What would you spend the study time alloted (say 30 minutes) for the first day doing if you only play the one minute segment of audio once or twice? For me, on day two I don't think I'll remember what any of the lesson one words mean unless I either flash card memorized them or shadowed the one minute segment 10-15 times so that the entire first dialog left an imprint on my memory. What else is there to do which is productive for 30 minutes if by the second day I can only remember the meaning of 2 or 3 words in the whole of the dialog? (Perhaps better than 2 or 3 words for French specifically, but if it were Hebrew I think it quite possible that I would remember so few.)

Volte wrote:

ProfArguelles wrote:

It seems as if you are under the impression that the purpose of shadowing is to permanently memorize material, forcibly and all at once. This is just not the case. It sounds, in essence, as if you are trying to cram the material into your brain. Now, while cramming may produce short term results, it is never a good study procedure.


Indeed, this is the result. I can still recite large chunks of several of the Assimil lessons I used in this manner, although my recall is not perfect on all of them.

You've previously written about considering yourself 'done' when you are able to 'play' the advanced Assimil lessons in your head while you are in the shower. I see looking back that you addressed explicit memorization in your reply to pentatonic on the following page, but I don't seem to have been the only one who misunderstood or misremembered what you meant.


I never considered myself to be trying to memorize either. Instead I was thinking about your instructions that the goal is to speak at the exact same time as the recording with enough practice. (In the same way one sings along with a song recording and knows what lyrics are coming next.) With short segments I was able to reach this 'goal' in a reasonable amount of time and able to see my progress with each iteration, but with a 30 minute segment of an audio book I imagine it would take a year before I could speak at the same time if only because even in English I think it might take me that long, repeating a story only once a day, for me to remember it well enough to know what word is next as the speaker speaks. As I mentioned previously, while working with an 8 minute long chapter recording, after a few hours I was only able to repeat small parts of sentences here and there.

I think my experience with music also played a role in my thinking I should work with very short segments. In my experience there are certain songs I have been listening to for years that are sung in languages I study but which I have never actually improved my ability to understand even with having listened so many times over such a long period of time. The one time I did actually learn to thoroughly understand a song, I looked up all unknown words and then played the song over until I was able to call to mind the meaning of each 'new word' at the moment it was sung. Thus the only way I came to fully understand a 3-minute 'segment' song was not through repeated listening once a day over some long period of time, but rather by repeatedly listening within a single day.

Volte wrote:

ProfArguelles wrote:

Why are you trying to remember the material at all, and why do you aspire to match the recording perfectly by the 5th repetition? Instead of memorization, your focus should be upon understanding,


I generally don't try to remember the material; if I shadow short segments repeatedly, it just happens.

Why do I aspire to match the recording perfectly? Many reasons: I thought this was part of the aim of shadowing, I prefer that to doing it imperfectly (all else being equal), and once the meaning is entirely clear, it's the most obvious goal for the rest of a 10-30 minute session with one Assimil lesson.

As for understanding: I understand better when I am silent, rather than shadowing. I find shadowing a barrier to understanding, unless my understanding was already quite solid already.


For me, I *was* (in my conception of the process) trying to improve my understanding by remembering what the unknown words meant. If I worked with a segment longer than a minute at a time, it would be too hard to keep the meaning of so many new words in mind to keep improving my understanding of what they all mean when strung together in long convoluted sentences. Guessing a word out of a page of comprehensible text is sometimes easy, but it is quite a challenge when words, whose meaning ywou are guessing to begin with, are strung together and their exact nuance becomes interdependent.

I can only speculate that perhaps your process for shadowing is much more organic and holistic than I imagined, and when you say focus on the story, you are saying that even individual incidents and interactions don't matter as long as one can write a one paragraph summary after reading the whole book? Just a wild guess here, but could you further qualify your suggestion to focus on the "narratives or the plot of the novel or story"? About how well should one understand the individual details and nuances of what is happening in a novel for it to be worth shadowing if one is not going to look up any unknown words? Is it "okay" to use a novel if there is an occasional entire paragraph or even page from which you understand nothing but some isolated words? (I've had this happen now and then in the middle of a novel reading when I felt quite confident in my understanding of all the surrounding pages.)

Volte wrote:

ProfArguelles wrote:

As long as you understand a bit more with each repetition and as long as you can match the rhythm of your voice to the fixed audio a bit better each time, you are making progress.


By this metric, I've wasted the vast majority of the time I've spent shadowing.


Professor, do you have any sort of rough estimate about what % of a text a person should understand well (without recourse to a dictionary) and what % of the same text spoken he should understand to make certain material appropriate for shadowing? Actually, I don't know if it is better to ask you to specify the rough % of words that one should understand or the % of the ideas/narrative as a whole in disregard of words. Either way I think it would be helpful to have a detailed rubric for evaluating this.

Some of your suggestions have me wondering if my studying methods have made my reading and listening abilities so out of proportion to each other in comparison to the balance you would reach by this stage that I'm going to have challenges you might not anticipate. Based on the proficiency test I passed, I should know about 8,000 words in Japanese. At the same time, due to the fact that I memorized the words using software, there are segments of audio using common words and having only a few words unknown to me, but which I am nonetheless completely unable to comprehend or decipher aurally with any number of repetitions without seeing a text transcript. There have been instances where I have listened to such audio 10 times or more while never progressing to understand more than 20%. After a single referencing of the transcript, I was instantly enabled to understand 70% or more of the pure audio in subsequent listenings. If I was studying from the beginning using your methods I assume this could be a very peculiar result, though for me it is quite normal, so I'm trying to figure out where to fit shadowing in.

I've looked at some of the later dialogs in Assimil Japanese, and I can't imagine it would be particularly productive for me to do shadowing with that level of text. At the same time, I wonder if you'll advise me that the novel I've worked with is too difficult due to my poor listening ability. Is shadowing useful only within a narrow range of suitable materials, or is it flexible but just more challenging to use material which is well ahead of one's abilities? What are the consequences of using material which is too hard? Will it be immediately obvious or just result in reduced learning efficiency?

THANK YOU,

Justin Wilson


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ProfArguelles
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foreignlanguageexper
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 Message 53 of 56
07 April 2009 at 12:46pm | IP Logged 
I have posted a detailed procedural video on shadowing step by step, at the end of which I offer to give a free webcam tutorial to students who, within the coming week, are so seriously engaged in attempting to do this right that they will make both a "before" video of themselves doing their very best and an "after" video of themselves incorporating the points we will discuss in person and post these as responses to my video so that others can get an even clearer idea of how this works.

Although my lecture is nearly an hour long, I only talk about using this to begin learning a language, and so, Mr. Wilson, I apologize for not covering the points in your post about the Japanese novel, but perhaps I will still have answered some of your queries in it, and you can further refine what is still unclear about adapting this for the use with literature. In a nutshell, it sounds as if you are making it all too hard on yourself. If you can understand 70% of the narrative by referencing the text and only 20% after repeated listenings without it, why on earth do you listen without looking? At any rate, you generally need a comprehension level of about 80% in order to be able to profitably learn the remaining 20% from context, so evidently you are working with material that is simply too difficult for you. Have you gone through the "Harry Potter" stage of using some sort of children's material that you have read beforehand in English? 8,000 words, mainly memorized in isolation, is not enough to attempt to read a work of adult literature. The rough figure for that is more like 20,000 for most languages, and I suspect considerably more for languages like Japanese and Korean whose politeness levels of speech mandate the use of utterly different vocabulary for what would be identical phrasings in languages without this constraint.

Alexander Arguelles
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mwjames
Newbie
United States
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Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 54 of 56
07 April 2009 at 4:04pm | IP Logged 
May I just break silence long enough to pop in and say Thanks! to the Prof. I know this is a lot of work for you, and
I really appreciate it. I've been fumbling around with shadowing for quite a while, too, but I'm determined to reach
some kind of Aha! moment with it, and then proceed with it to further my speaking confidence. Your videos are a
gift in this regard.

Thanks also to other contributors in this and related shadowing threads for reporting experiences and asking
questions (several of which I couldn't quite articulate) whose emerging answers are helping.

Mike
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Satoshi
Diglot
Senior Member
Brazil
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Speaks: Portuguese*, English
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 Message 55 of 56
07 April 2009 at 7:57pm | IP Logged 
mwjames wrote:
May I just break silence long enough to pop in and say Thanks! to the Prof. I know this is a lot of work for you, and
I really appreciate it. I've been fumbling around with shadowing for quite a while, too, but I'm determined to reach
some kind of Aha! moment with it, and then proceed with it to further my speaking confidence. Your videos are a
gift in this regard.

Thanks also to other contributors in this and related shadowing threads for reporting experiences and asking
questions (several of which I couldn't quite articulate) whose emerging answers are helping.

Mike


I second that.

That was really helpful, Professor.

Thanks a lot!


Thiago Henrique
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J-Learner
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Australia
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Studies: Yiddish, English*
Studies: Dutch

 
 Message 56 of 56
10 April 2009 at 3:43am | IP Logged 
Edited out my questions.

Sincerely apologise for wasting time.

Edited by J-Learner on 13 April 2009 at 2:54pm



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