For about a year now I have been trying hard to brush up my Spanish. I bought a text, started watching Spanish language TV programs, and even signed up for private lessons. For sure my Spanish was coming back, but to be honest, I wasn’t so satisfied with my progress and I started losing motivation. I stopped doing my homework and even started skipping my lessons. Finally, I stopped taking them all together. I did keep watching Spanish TV shows, because that was fun, but by that time, I had pretty much given up on the project of recovering my Spanish.
Around the same time, a friend of mine recommended the shadowing method to me. At first, I resisted the idea. I just didn’t think it fit my style. But finally I decided to give it a try.
Here’s how I did it. I used some CDs with transcripts from one of my textbooks as my material. I would choose one article or conversation and listen to it without looking at the transcript. Next, I went through the text and made sure I understood all the vocabulary and grammar. Then I practiced repeating the phrases, pausing and replaying the audio. Once I felt confident about my pronunciation, I would shadow the audio: first with the text, then without. I have the audio on my iPhone, so I do it when I am taking a walk. Incidentally, I have discovered I can retain things better if I shadow while walking. I only spent about 20 to 30 minutes a day doing this kind of practice. After I had done a few articles, I started to revisit at least one previously studied article every day to reinforce what I had learned.
And the results? I couldn’t be more satisfied. Right away I could feel my Spanish was getting better. And I get this really strong sense of accomplishment when I am successfully shadowing an article or dialog. Eventually, I get to know an article so well I can even speak ahead of the model speaker in several parts. I know my pronunciation has improved a lot too. I love imitating the rhythm and intonation of a native speaker. Best of all, I am staying motivated. In fact, I look forward to my shadowing sessions. And I can always find time to fit it into my schedule no matter how busy I get.
As a matter of fact, I was so excited about this new method, It inspired me to create the new premium content lessons. As I was practicing with this new method, it got me thinking about what kind of tools I would want to make my practice easier and more efficient. Thinking from a student’s perspective, I started designing the format for my lessons.
Below, I am including a typical week’s study schedule. I hope you find it useful and that you can make shadowing a part of your study program.