The Shadowing Technique — and how it can help you speak English

One of the hardest things for an English student to practice is speaking.

In order to speak English one must open one’s mouth and speak.

But who to?

And about what exactly?

It’s all very well telling students that they need to practice speaking in English but unless they know what they have to do about it this advice is useless.

So that is why I want to introduce this fantastic English speaking method to you.

It is called The Shadowing Technique and it will help you speak English with much greater confidence. If you do this regularly you will improve your English speaking on a huge scale — and you can do it all on your own. No need for teachers, other classmates or anyone else to help you.

Want to know what it is and how to do it?

Then read one, young warrior!


Some History


The Shadowing Technique was devised by a man called Alexander Argüelles.

He has used shadowing to master FIFTY languages.

Yes, you read that right — fifty.

He learned how to speak all fifty languages by using the shadowing technique.


So what is it? And what do I need?


Essentially, the shadowing technique requires you to listen to a recording in English, read a transcript of the recording and to speak out loud what you hear.

That is it.


The tools you will need to do shadowing are:


  • your smartphone
  • a pair of earphones
  • an English audio recording (could be a podcast or a news report — as long as it is in English)
  • a transcript of the recording (this is all the words spoken in the recording and written out in text form)
  • some courage!

That is all you need.

Okay, that is great — now how do I do it?


Let’s assume you have all the things you need. Then these are the steps you need to follow:


Listen to the Recording

The first thing you need to do is listen to the recording you have.

Listen to it and don’t do anything else.

How does it sound to your ears? Is it much too easy to understand? Too difficult?

The recording must challenge you a little but not too much that you cannot understand anything at all.


Listen Again and Again

Listen to your recording several times. Try to do this so you can understand most of what the speaker says.

Just keep playing the recording over and over. Your ears and brain will work together to pick it up.


Read the Transcript

Now read the transcript.

Read the words from the transcript and listen to the recording at the same time. Listen out for all the difficult words and using the transcript write them down.

Make a note of all the new words and then look them up in the dictionary. Make sure you understand all of the new words.

Listen several times and follow along using the transcript.


Now Repeat What You Hear

Listen again — but this time as the speaker says all the words, you also speak out loud at the same time. You can use the transcript to help you follow what the speaker is saying.

There should be a slight delay between what the speaker says and what you say.

Repeat this step several times until you can recite most of the recording without making too many mistakes.

Now Get Walking!

Now comes the tricky part…

Using your smartphone and your earphones, go outside.

Find a place where you can walk uninterrupted and where you can walk at a fast, brisk pace.

Now listen to the recording and speak out loud all the words from the recording. Walk with confidence and keep your head high. Look ahead and smile to yourself as you are speaking.

All of these actions combined gives your confidence a huge boost.

And you will also remember all the words you are saying more clearly.

You will have to do this many times to see all the benefits.


Repeat Until Perfect

Practice makes perfect.

So keep doing this exercise until you can recite the whole recording to perfection.

Once you have mastered one recording, you can move on to the next.

You will get better and better at it and make progress at a faster rate each time.


Use this infographic to help you. You can download it and share with your friends!

Get the FREE PDF of The Shadowing Technique here.


But where can I find recordings? And transcripts?


As an English student, you have access to hundreds of podcasts and other recordings in English — and many of these have a transcript already added.

I found the following links to get you started:

Podcasts in English


3Play Media



This is plenty to get you started.



The Shadowing Technique can really help you master English speaking.

The steps are very simple — but committing to it can take a lot of determination.

And you will need to do regular daily practice to see the best results.

Keep trying and you will find success.


Good luck and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

12 thoughts on “The Shadowing Technique — and how it can help you speak English”

  1. Wonderful advice and thanks for the PDF and the links. I will share it with EFL students. I often recommend a shadowing technique I learned in a ‘simultaneous translation’ class. But it was for pronunciation only. This version is more complete and very thorough. Thanks,

  2. Md. Shahedul Islam

    Thanks for your good way to speaking English. From today I shall follow and practice of your shadowing techniques. Thanks again!!

  3. Shadowing may not be the same as spontaneous original speaking but it is a way to force you into what you need to do: practice. A second language without practice doesn’t go anywhere.

  4. Hello!

    I came across this Shadowing Technique and I am so eager to try it out with my tertiary students. I used to do this when I was studying English and I didn’t even know it’s called Shadowing or that it is even a ‘proper’ technique.

    Thank you so much for your post.

    But may I ask for your recommendation in terms of assessing the students’ progress and achievement? What kind of evaluations can I use?

    Thank you in advance.

    Effa Mastura.

    1. Hello Effa!

      I would recommend asking the students to stand in front of the class and reciting one of the articles that they used in the shadowing technique. If they can recite the whole article, then very well done. But even if they just manage some of it, that is still great work.

      The students could also use certain key phrases and vocabulary from the article and make their own sentences using them.

      Just two ideas that I can think of.

      Let me know how it works out.

      Many thanks for reading!

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