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If you’re trying hard to learn English but can’t seem to master pronouncing words, or you prefer learning by listening and speaking, then you ought to try the shadowing method.

What is language shadowing?

To put it simply, shadowing is a learning technique in which you listen to someone speaking in your target language and then repeat what they say. The goal is to replicate their pronunciation and intonation as best you can.

Shadowing language learning benefits

Shadowing is a great way to learn English as repetition is a vital part of language acquisition. It reinforces neural connections, which helps memory and comprehension. By repeatedly being exposed to the language, the brain strengthens the connections associated with the language, making it easier to recall later on. This means you can grasp patterns, vocabulary, and grammar structures more easily. Shadowing allows you to progress from basic word recognition to active usage, thus solidifying your linguistic skills.

What is shadowing in language learning?

Shadowing develops multiple language skills simultaneously, including pronunciation, intonation, rhythm, and understanding.

It enhances listening comprehension by training the ear to distinguish different sounds and patterns. The technique also improves speaking confidence and reduces hesitation as learners practice producing language in real time. Through repetitive exposure, shadowing helps internalize vocabulary, language patterns, and grammatical structures. Overall, shadowing is a comprehensive approach to language acquisition that effectively promotes both receptive and productive skills.

How to do shadowing pronunciation

There are many ways to perform this technique, and none of them require many materials. All you need to begin with is either an English-speaking person or a smartphone or computer. Here are a few examples of how you can shadow English, depending on your English level and the resources available to you.

Practice with native speakers

The best way to use the language shadowing technique is to take one-on-one lessons with native speakers.

Learning from an experienced tutor can help English students in many ways, especially if the tutor is a native English speaker. A teacher can model techniques, such as mimicking intonation and rhythm, for students to follow. There are many reasons why one-on-one tutoring is ideal for language shadowing:

  • The tutor can provide materials, either selecting the best or creating their own resources with clear and understandable speech for students to shadow.
  • In private lessons, you are more relaxed as there is no pressure from a group. You can, therefore, speak freely without embarrassment or fear of making mistakes. Teachers can foster a supportive and encouraging atmosphere where students feel comfortable practicing and making mistakes.
  • When you practice speaking alone, you are more likely to make mistakes without noticing. A tutor will be able to correct you if you fail to pronounce words correctly, provide constructive feedback, as well as explain mistakes to you in detail. Knowing where you’re making mistakes and correcting them is one of the keys to learning a new language.
  • Paying for lessons holds the student accountable, which can encourage them to work harder and persevere with their English studies.
  • A teacher will encourage additional work by assigning regular shadowing tasks and providing opportunities for students to practice in class or independently.
  • When taking lessons, instruction is tailored to meet each student’s needs, offering additional support or challenges as necessary.

You can practice the language shadowing technique with one of thousands of native English-speaking tutors on LiveXP. Choose a tutor from any country; you can even watch their introductory videos to hear their pronunciation and accent and see if they’re a good fit for you. You won’t be tied down to one specific tutor, as you can take lessons with as many teachers as you like.

Basic vocabulary

If you’re a beginner English learner, you’d better start with the basics. This means learning individual words. You can find vocabulary pronunciation online, or you can sign up for an app that enables you to play a sound file and then repeat the word or short phrase. This is the first and most simple way to start language shadowing. The Word Trainer feature in the LiveXP app has English word sets for beginners to memorize the words and learn pronunciation with a spaced repetition method.

Children’s stories

To move on from basic terminology, you can try listening to short, simple sentences in children’s books. There are many online platforms that read stories to children, so play each story sentence by sentence, repeating what the narrator says as you go along.


Listen to a dialogue, immediately repeating each line after the speaker. As you progress in English, you should try to match each speaker’s speed and intonation.


Using language learning apps or software that provide audio samples for shadowing practice allows you to mimic native speakers’ pronunciation and cadence. These kinds of specially designed apps for English students often have longer, more grammatically complex sentences to help you progress.


Watch a video of someone giving a presentation or speech and mimic them in real time. Copying the orator’s intonation and mannerisms during the speech will help you get to grips with the rhythm of the language. What’s more, it can help you understand the meaning behind their speech or get the gist of it, even if you’re not familiar with every word they say.


Listen to a podcast in the target language, ideally one with clear and understandable content. Play a short segment, then pause and repeat what was said. Continue this process, gradually increasing the length of the segments as you become more comfortable repeating what is said.

TV series and movies

Choose an English TV show or movie with clear dialogue, using subtitles if needed. Play a short scene, focusing on the characters' speech patterns and intonation. Pause and repeat what they say, imitating their pronunciation and rhythm. Practice each line until you can replicate it confidently.


Select an audiobook with a clear narrator and engaging content. You might opt for a book that you already know or choose one with a narrator whose accent you can easily understand. Listen to short segments, paying attention to the speaker's pronunciation and tone. Pause and repeat what was said, trying to match the speaker's rhythm and intonation.


There’s no reason why you can’t use your favorite singer to help you learn English. In fact, a song that you know and love is the perfect tool for language shadowing. Choose a song in your target language with clear lyrics and a steady rhythm, then listen to a short section, paying attention to the singer’s pronunciation and melody. Pause and sing along, trying to match the singer's tone and timing. Repeat until you can sing the section confidently. Gradually work on longer sections as you improve. Shadowing songs is a fun way to practice language skills while enjoying your favorite music.

Language exchange

Another way to put the shadowing method into practice is by participating in language exchange sessions. Language exchange provides an opportunity to practice shadowing with a partner, ideally a native speaker or advanced learner. Simply take turns speaking and repeating sentences, focusing on accuracy and rhythm and offering immediate feedback on pronunciation and intonation. This enhances listening comprehension and speaking skills through real-time interaction. It allows learners to mimic natural speech patterns and correct errors effectively. Moreover, exchanging languages fosters a supportive learning environment, encouraging mutual improvement and cultural exchange.

It’s not a secret that native speakers can also speak with mistakes and have a basic understanding of grammar. So, you have to be attentive when choosing whom you will practice with. The best language exchange partner is a native-speaking English tutor. Being a tutor means you speak grammatically correct, and you can explain pronunciation and grammar rules to students. On LiveXP, you can choose a native English speaker from any country based on your interests to have more engaging conversations during the lessons. This way, you can learn using the shadowing technique and discussing your lovely topics.

Tips for successful shadowing in English:

Understand what you’re saying

Although repeating any English sentence you hear can expand your lexicon and improve your pronunciation, it isn’t the most effective way to learn. Instead, make sure you know the meaning of what you’re saying, either by searching for the translation into your native language or by using subtitles. Reading English subtitles can help your brain register the word better than if you just hear it. If you practice this technique with an English tutor on LiveXP, ask them to explain the meaning of the unknown words. You can add these words to your Vocabulary and then learn them in Word Trainer.

Be consistent, and don’t give up

Perseverance is key when it comes to studying English. Continuing over a long period of time will help you progress, even if you think you have come to an impasse, your brain will still be absorbing new words. Regular repetition helps reinforce learning and improve fluency over time, so try to set aside dedicated time each day for shadowing practice to build consistency and progress steadily.

Work on difficult sounds

Once you’re accustomed to saying basic words and short phrases, don’t hesitate to leave your comfort zone by trying to say more complex sentences. If you notice a particular sound that you are having difficulty with, try to listen to and repeat a sentence containing that sound. One way to do this is with tongue twisters. These short sequences of words focus on repeating one specific sound. For example, if you are struggling to pronounce the notoriously difficult English “th” sound, you could say the thirty-three thieves tongue twister.

Choose clear audio

Pick materials with understandable speech and clear audio quality for easier shadowing. The more interested you are in the subject, the more likely you are to take in the information and, therefore, learn vocabulary alongside improving your accent. That said, being able to understand the words clearly is paramount, whether the topic interests you or not.

Start slowly

Begin with short segments to practice pronunciation and rhythm accurately before moving on to longer passages. You can break down longer sentences into smaller chunks for easier repetition and mastery.

Mimic intonation

Focus on mimicking the speaker’s intonation and stress patterns for natural-sounding speech. Among the advantages of doing this with an English native-speaking tutor is that they can inform you if your intonation is unnatural or wrong. This is one of the parts that can be missed when you do it on your own.

Try to relax

Being tense will only hinder your ability to replicate a native English accent. Relax your jaw and facial muscles to produce sounds more naturally and reduce tension.

Ask for feedback

Seek feedback from native speakers or language partners to correct mistakes and improve accuracy. This is easily done thanks to 1-to-1 lessons with a native tutor on LiveXP.

Target your practice

There’s no point in practicing what you already excel at; instead, identify areas where you struggle and focus on improving them through targeted practice.

Have fun and be patient

Enjoy experimenting with language, and use enjoyable resources to keep motivation high. Don’t forget that shadowing is a skill that takes time to master, so be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories along the way.

Techniques to use alongside language shadowing

If you’re not very good at listening or prefer to learn a different way, then here are some other techniques you can try to learn English quickly and efficiently. Learning English without listening can still be effective through various methods:


Focus on reading English texts such as books or newspaper and magazine articles to learn new words, grammar, and improve your comprehension skills. This will also expose you to various writing styles and genres and allow learners to progress at their own pace, as you can revisit difficult passages if you don’t fully understand them.


Boost your writing skills by journaling, composing emails, or joining online discussions to enhance your grammar and spelling and get you accustomed to written communication in English. Writing practice provides opportunities for self-expression and creativity in English language usage.

Vocabulary expansion

Play vocabulary games to memorize and retain new words more effectively. This can be easily integrated into daily routines. It also allows for personalized learning, as you can focus on vocabulary that matters to you, for example, work jargon or hobby-related vocabulary. Explore the advantages of using Word Trainer on LiveXP to expand your vocabulary and learn words with a spaced repetition method.

Grammar exercises

Work on your grammar by doing exercises from textbooks or with the help of online resources to strengthen your understanding of grammatical rules and structures. You can then use grammar concepts in written communication.

Internet and smartphone apps

Use the power of technology, such as language learning apps that offer interactive quizzes and lessons for improving English proficiency. The internet has a huge range of resources, both free and for a small fee, that can help any learning style. Apps offer interactive and engaging learning experiences and allow self-paced learning and progress tracking without the constraints of a fixed schedule.

Visual learning

Use visual aids such as images, diagrams, and videos with subtitles to reinforce vocabulary and comprehension without relying on listening. If you are a visual learner, then your sight is your most important learning aid. This technique reinforces learning through imagery and can make abstract concepts more tangible and easier to understand.

Mix language shadowing with other learning methods

The best way to use the shadowing technique is to pair it with other learning methods. This way, you can work on each skill: listening, reading, writing, and speaking, and improve each area simultaneously. As a result, you will have a well-rounded knowledge of the English language and be able to communicate seamlessly.

The key to shadowing is imitating the speaker's pronunciation and rhythm as closely as possible. Regular practice with a partner, tutor or even alone will results in better intonation and cadence, and overall more natural-sounding spoken English.


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