Learn Any Language


Shadowing is a language learning technique developed by the American Professor Alexander Arguelles, first in Germany and later Korea. The basis of the method is audio in the language that you are learning. While listening, you attempt to repeat -- to "shadow" -- what you hear as quickly as you hear it.

There are two levels of shadowing: beginning and advanced. The beginning level is best done with a course such as Assimil, Linguaphone or the Cortina Method. A. Arguelles considers Assimil the best series for beginner shadowing. Advanced learners can use audio books.

Beginner shadowing[]

Advantages of Assimil:

  1. Texts are given both in L2 and in translation;
  2. Complete audio is provided for L2 texts;
  3. You can study grammar and do exercises;
  4. Far less editing is required than with other courses.

Using shadowing to master your coursebook, accompanied by other techniques[]

(Note: shadowing requires high quality recordings, preferably modern and with pleasant voices. Many learners prefer to use separate materials for shadowing and for learning the grammar, vocabulary etc)

Due to Assimil's conciseness, some important words appear just a couple of times. Other courses are "guilty" of that as well. If you want to really master your coursebook and know the 2000+ words it teaches, the following steps will be useful. Feel free to skip some of the steps and only use them all for the most difficult lessons.

  1. "Blind shadowing" - While listening, repeat ("shadow") the L2 audio as soon as possible;
  2. While hearing and repeating the L2, read the translation (L1);
  3. Holding the book, put your thumbs under corresponding sentences of both texts. Shadow the audio, read L1 and take a quick look at L2;
  4. Reverse the last step. Shadow the audio, read L2 and glance at L1;
  5. Shadow and read L2 simultaneously;
  6. Analyse the text and read notes; do the exercises
  7. Read the L2 text aloud (multiple times if required);
  8. Use the scriptorium method on the L2 text;
  9. Type the lesson out;
  10. Correct the lesson that you have typed out;
  11. Read the text silently (multiple times if required);
  12. Listen to the audio. (In the future, use the audio as immersion/comprehensible input. Active and/or passive listening.)


The aim is to progress through an Assimil book in approximately three months. Each day, add one lesson to achieve this. At one time, you should be doing 10 lessons of blind shadowing. As you add a new lesson each day, former lessons have the next step applied to them.

Example schedule:

(Lesson 7 is a review lesson in the Assimil courses and is not included here.)

Day Lessons
Day 1 Lesson 1 - Blind shadowing
Day 2 Lessons 1 and 2 - Blind shadowing
Day 3 Lessons 1, 2 and 3 - Blind shadowing
(continue adding one lesson daily...)
Day 6 Lessons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 - Blind shadowing
Day 7 Lessons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, - Blind shadowing
Day 8 Lessons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 - Blind shadowing
Day 9 Lesson 1 - Shadowing + reading English;
Day 9 cont. Lessons 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 - Blind shadowing
Day 10 Lesson 1 - Shadowing + reading English;
Day 10 cont. Lessons 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11 - Blind shadowing
Day 11 Lesson 2 - Shadowing + reading English; Lesson 1 - Thumbs, L1 dominance
Day 11 cont. Lessons 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10, 11, and 12 - Blind shadowing

You go through all the steps and take the finished lessons off.

Advanced/Audio-book shadowing[]


This level, as recommended by Professor Arguelles, is to be done when one is fairly comfortable in understanding the target language, perhaps at what some call the intermediate level. "Intermediate" is rather subjective, so experiment to find when you feel it is most beneficial to use this method.

The process[]

As in beginner shadowing, the goal is to shadow the audio as close to simultaneous as possible.

There are several ways to do this:

  1. Shadow the audio while walking.
  2. Shadow and read while walking.
  3. Shadow and read while sitting. Sitting makes shadowing closer to a later stage of the Listening-Reading Method.

What you need:[]

  1. Text for L2.
  2. Text for L1.
  3. Unabridged audio for the L2 text.

Videos illustrating the method[]


Shadowing a foreign language (Chinese)

Video 1 - Shadowing a foreign language (Chinese)


Shadowing Discussed

Video 2 - Shadowing Discussed


Shadowing Step by Step

Video 3 - Shadowing Step by Step