Tuesday, July 14, 2009


What is it?

Good for introduction of a language & Getting a base of the language, its a study technique in which you walk at a quick pace with a good posture (standing straight up) while repeating every word you hear of your target language from earphones (only one earphone in so you can hear yourself as well). At the same time you are holding up the lesson book that goes to your audio, following along (reading and speaking).

Why walk at a fast pace?

The theory is, your mind is more focused on what you are hearing and doing.

What you need:

earphones / ear-buds
mp3 player
Bilingual textbook (right page target language, left page teaching language)
-Book should contain continuous Chinese text and come with audio.
-Audio should not contain pauses or gaps of silence, you can edit the audio with Audacity if it does.

What does this study technique accomplish?

- Improved Intonation in your target language
- A strong base for a new language (this is intended for beginners)

First step:

Blind Shadowing -

Start of by listening to your audio while walking swiftly outside, while listening you want to repeat everything you hear as soon as you hear it, you will be speaking over the audio, do this until you are almost speaking directly over the voice.

Keep it to one lesson a day until you have the sounds almost memorized. Each session should be one page, no more than 15 minutes at a time (you should do this in chunks through out the day).

Once you've done this to enough pages and you feel like you understand what the sounds are, how to say them, or feel curious like you need to understand what some of the things you are hearing mean then its time to move on to step two.

Second step:

Now you will read the book, holding it up to your face so you can read it while walking swiftly, read the teaching language while speaking the target language, do not read the target language side. When you start to have an understanding of what sounds match up with what meanings in the teaching language you should move on to the next step.

Third step:

Once your familiar with the contents of each lesson/page start to read with with your thumbs, keep your right thumb and left thumb under the target language and corresponding teaching language as you read, speak and walk while moving your thumbs down one line at a time in sync with each other and the audio. Keep your focus on the teaching language still, once you think you know what a word/sound means look at the target language. Eventually you will move to the target language completely, that's when your ready for the next step.

Fourth step:

You are not allowed to look at the learning language, keep your mind thinking in the target language, don't think "oh what does this mean in my native language?" don't allow your self to wonder and wander back to your L1 (native language).

At this point, when you are not shadowing you should be taking 15-30 seconds out of your day to try and think only in your target language, not allowing your self to revert for even a second to your native tongue, try to work up to a minute then more.Tell your self "I'm not going to allow my self to think in English".

Fifth step:

After a month of doing one new lesson each day you will need to reverse the order of the steps, if your on say lesson 28 then on lesson 28, 29 and 30 you will look mostly at the target language, then on lesson 31, 32, and 33 you will allow your self to look at the teaching lesson, keep doing 3 page intervals until you are only reading the teaching language, and then finally just blind shadowing (no book).

Sixth step:

Next, sit down and write each lesson on a blank piece of paper word for word, analyzing the meaning (looking the words up) and reading the text aloud, you should be able to do this now with out the need for pause because you will have said them so many times already, remember to keep these study sessions in 15-30 minute intervals, study's show that the mind starts to wander after 30 minutes. Make sure to write it out by hand, as you write, speak the words don't just sit there silently. Do one new lesson each day.

As you continue make sure to review the lessons you have done by spending 30 minutes reading a lesson you have written, on another spend 30 minutes writing it out by hand again, and 30 analyzing another.

Repeating this process 30 minutes a time for 2 hours a day will get you through one average book in 3 months, this will give you a very strong base in a new language and help you with intonation.

And intonation is the main reason why I've posted this, as many of us already have a base in Mandarin, most of us still have problems with intonation or the flow of the tones when speaking because we need to pause and think of the tones, the earlier stage of Blind Shadowing and further steps may help us speak fluidly.

This is by no means a casual study program, its an intense way of studying that should not only get you some exercise but also results. To better understand the technique listen to Prof. Alexanders lecture's on how to properly Shadow, I've written this out step by step from his third video on the subject because of its length, he does have the steps written on his web page but not in the same detail as his videos. If your serious about study, especially self study then this is the way to go.

Here is his demonstration of Shadowing, he's walking back and forth because of the camera.


  1. As much as I think this technique would have tremendous benefits for learners, that video is plain hilarious. My mind is awash with images of Manuel from Fawlty Towers bellowing, "I learn English from a book!"

  2. I have to admit I was laughing pretty hard at him the first time. This is definitely not for people who don't like to be stared at in public.