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  • Writer's pictureDavid Nagai

Improve Your Speaking From Home

Updated: Jul 3, 2021

Many students wonder how they can improve their speaking fluency? Besides more study and actual conversation practice, “shadowing” is an exercise that many students find useful.

What is shadowing?

Shadowing is a simple repetition exercise that you can do from anywhere.

First, find some audio. It could be a video, podcast, or anything with a voice. If it has subtitles or a script it can be extra helpful.

Second, press play and listen to one sentence or one short fragment of a sentence, and then press pause.

Third, repeat what you heard. Try to mimic their accent, intonation, and speed in order to get the most benefit. Again, if you have subtitles or a transcript, you can read along as well to make it easier.

Fourth, press play again and repeat the process. I recommend 10 minutes per shadowing session.

Why shadowing is helpful

Shadowing practice is not always helpful for every single person. However, what I notice is that many students have limited speaking time each week. This shadowing exercise helps students speak more even if they are alone. Not only will it increase your speaking time, but it will also help your listening, speaking fluency, grammar, and vocabulary.

Increases output

Shadowing can be extra output where the student is forced to speak more. So if you need more speaking time and want to feel more comfortable speaking English with confidence, shadowing might work very well. Remember, increased speaking is a simple but essential part of increasing fluency.

Listening practice

Although shadowing focuses on improving speaking, it also can help your listening skills. Just imagine spending a lot of time shadowing. You will naturally pick up more listening skills and comprehension.

Speed, intonation, and natural flow

As part of improving your fluency, shadowing can also help you focus on speaking in a more natural way and can challenge you to speed up your pace. Pay attention to the exact way the speaker pronounces words and notice where the emphasis is stronger and softer, and where the speed is faster and slower. This will help you sound more natural. If you listen to good communicators you will even be able to pick up how to speak to inspire and persuade an audience.

Naturally improve grammar, vocabulary, and phrases

In addition, if you mimic someone who has native English, you will naturally come across more complex grammar, vocabulary, and phrases. This also can happen through reading books, news, or blog articles. But shadowing will help you actually use those words and internalize and remember them better.

If you need a place to start, I recommend this TED Talk (slower) and this TED Talk (faster). You can use the transcript below, or subtitles, and you can even adjust the speed in the settings.

Essentially, the more you expose yourself to English, the more you will pick it up. And, the more you create output, the more you will increase your confidence and ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

At the end of the day, regular input and output are necessary to maintain or improve your English. It takes time and it takes work. Just decide how much time you want to spend per week and stick to that goal. Make English a part of your routine, and soon it will be an increasingly natural part of your life. If you want, you can always practice shadowing by using my podcast as material.

Keep speaking. Keep up the good work. You can do it!


Want to connect with the changing world in English?

online or in Yokohama-Motomachi

to expand your:

creative thinking

global awareness

cross-cultural communication

(Advanced and intermediate only)

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