“I can read it, listen to it and understand it but I can’t speak like that.” - A familiar sound!

There are a lot of Japanese learners who feel that their speaking and writing skills are not as strong as their listening and reading skills. So, if you are in this case, you can try “Shadowing”.


1. What is “Shadowing”?



Most people think it is “listening and repeat” in language learning contexts, you listen to a conversation line-by-line and try to repeat it.


Shadowing is a little bit different from simple “listen and repeat” in that you start speaking while the person on the audio is still talking. You echo the speaker 1 or 2 seconds after they speak, and talk over them. 


You should practice shadowing for 10 minutes per day and doing about 10 short conversations of about 4-5 lines each, continuously for 2-3 weeks. 


2. How to do shadowing - step by step?


  • Find material at the right level: you should choose a short dialogue, and read it, try to understand it.

  • Listen to the script and follow along with your finger.

  • Listen to the script and repeat the dialog in your head, without vocalizing.

  • Listen while visually following the script.

  • Without looking at the script, play the audio and say the dialogue aloud a few seconds after the speaker.

  • Shadow the audio while thinking about the meaning of the conversation. Think about the emotions of the people in the conversation and the context.


3. Material for practicing Shadowing: Let’s speak Japanese


There are 2 levels to accord with your level: Shadowing: Let’s speak Japanese  (Beginner – Intermediate) and Shadowing: Let’s speak Japanese  (Intermediate – Advanced).

Give it a go!

I found it easier to speak over the dialogue wearing headphones. But because shadowing involves talking to yourself, you can’t really do it on public transport. You should try it now to improve your Japanese.