You have a scheduled presentation in English at work, it’s a month away, and you would like to polish your speaking skills. You would love to be more at ease with the language, improve your pronunciation and be sure that everybody understands you perfectly.

What if I told you that there is a way to make sure everything goes smoothly? Yes, I’m right and it’s called shadowing, and it does not involve meeting native English speakers prior to your commitment. This technique can help you improve considerably.

What is the shadowing technique?

It consists in listening to what is said and repeating. It is more and more in use thanks to the availability of most of the existing languages on the internet. There are more materials at your disposal in English, so you will be spoiled for choice.

What do you have to do?

Spare 30 minutes of your time every day.

Choose a TV show, a Netflix program of your choice or a YouTube video in English.

You need to be consistent.

Select the show you want to listen to. It is important to take into account your level of proficiency and also you must be looking forward to watching the program.

Decide on a short segment of the show that you will work on.

Repeat the lines you hear exactly word for word making sure you also mimic the intonation, the inflection of the voice and the speed at which the speaker talks. Also try to match their accent. Your goal is to sound identical to the native speaker.

It would be beneficial if you listen to the program turning on the subtitles the first time. You can turn them off in subsequent showings.

The aim is to be able to listen and understand at that speed. It also provides you with an insight to the culture and gives you a sense of how the language is used in real situations.

Start by repeating short sentences or phrases. In the beginning, shy away from long complicated sentences. You might be more prone to stumble upon words that you do not understand and miss the rest of the sentence.

You can also add more difficult sentences as you progress.

Record yourself as you’re repeating the lines. Listen to yourself once finished. Thus, you will find out how others hear you when speaking. You will also see where you’re failing in your pronunciation and or intonation, where your strengths and weaknesses lie. You also can listen again to the native speaker’s lines and closely compare both. You will know exactly where improvement is required.

Keep this first recording for future reference. It will allow you to evaluate your progress. Even though you don’t like this first attempt, don’t be discouraged. It is precisely why you’re involved in this exercise. Carry on shadowing for 30 days at least and record yourself again at the end of this period and you will be pleasantly amazed at your overall progress. You will have a more extensive vocabulary; your comprehension of the language will increase, and you will be at ease when speaking English.

Keep a dictionary at hand. It will be useful when you encounter a word that you do not understand in context.

The main benefit of the shadowing technique is that you do not need to find a native speaker with whom to have conversations. You can also do this whenever you can, even at non sociable hours.

Another great advantage is that you’re learning grammar structures in a natural setting without having to memorise long and boring grammar rules. This way, you’re more likely to remember how to use the various grammar forms naturally.

You also learn new words in context. You can understand the different uses of one word. You learn by hearing how the word is applied and you won’t forget it and will use these effortlessly in your conversations.

You’re more likely to carry on watching the show because it is not a tedious language class. English will become more fun in your eyes. You’re doing something enjoyable while you’re improving your level of fluency.

Some students feel sceptical when I suggest the shadowing technique. But after 30 days they are marvelled at their progress. Believe me, it does work. Try it yourself, keep the sessions around 30 minutes or under, have fun and let me know how your presentation went.

I’m holding a 30-day shadowing Challenge on my Facebook group. Click on the link to request access.