The relation between Listening skills and Shadowing


When learning English, many people are keenly aware of the difficulty of listening, saying, "I can understand it by reading it, but I can't hear it."

If you read the English text that you couldn't understand no matter how many times you listened to it, you probably had the experience of being able to easily understand "Oh, what's that?"

Why doesn't shadowing improve my listening skills as I expected?

"Shadowing" is one of the trainings to improve your listening skills. However, many people believe in shadowing and continue desperately, but they still cannot solve the problem of not being able to hear English.

In this article, we will focus on shadowing and explain in an easy-to-understand manner why shadowing does not produce the desired effect.

What is shadowing in the first place?

Shadowing is an interpreter training method that imitates and pronounces English while listening to it.

The point is not to repeat after listening to the whole sentence, but to chase the English sentence that you hear and pronounce it.

In other words, the difficulty level is not low because you "listen" and "pronounce" at the same time, but it is said that this will improve your English pronunciation and improve your listening skills.

Let's take a look at the impressions of those who challenged shadowing

Then, if you take a look at the experience review about shadowing, you can see the following opinions about how people who actually tried shadowing feel.

  • I can't keep up with the speed
  • I'm not sure if I can pronounce it well.
  • I can't feel that I'm improving.
  • Shadowing itself is not possible.

In other words, many people feel that the effect of shadowing is "not sure" and are frustrated.

The reason why shadowing is not effective is the "difference in sound"!

The reason why shadowing is not effective is, in a word, "the difference between English and Japanese sounds".

To put it more simply, many of the sounds in English are not found in Japanese sounds, so we Japanese brains cannot recognize them as "languages" and can also "pronounce them in the same way." I can't.

English has about 50 sounds including vowels and consonants, but Japanese has only 19 sounds. Even with this difference, it is quite difficult to dramatically improve your English listening skills or improve your pronunciation just by "simply imitating".

Is there anyone who can benefit from shadowing?

Many people may wonder if shadowing is completely meaningless. Some people find the effect of shadowing. However, only a limited number of people can benefit from shadowing.

Characteristics of people who can get the effect by shadowing

Those who can benefit from shadowing are limited to "returning children" or advanced students with equivalent English proficiency.

[Reference article] " Is shadowing really effective? "

If you want to incorporate shadowing as a training for the purpose of "speaking English more fluently", it will certainly be effective. Shadowing is an excellent training method in terms of getting used to the mouth.

In other words, when we Japanese train to speak in Japanese, which is easier to hear, we should be able to expect some effect by shadowing Japanese.

In conclusion, shadowing works well as training for the super-advanced, but not for "non-super-advanced people".

If you learn the correct pronunciation, your listening skills will improve.

There are many people who want to correct their pronunciation and be able to speak "native English". And if you learn correct English pronunciation, your listening skills will naturally improve.

Because if you master the correct English pronunciation yourself, the sound will be input into your brain as a "language" and will be processed in your brain as soon as it comes into your ears.

The problem of "I can't hear English" that many Japanese people have can be improved by mastering the correct pronunciation of English.

It seems that many people practice the study method of "listening anyway!" In order to strengthen listening, but this is also a study method that is not very effective.

However, the method of imitating is inefficient! What is a surely effective pronunciation correction method?

If you have read this far and feel that you want to strengthen your pronunciation and improve your listening skills, I would like you to understand the flow of "pronunciation correction that is definitely effective" introduced here.

Pronunciation correction should be done mainly along the following three points.

  1. Sound pronunciation training not found in Japanese
  2. Learn English-specific accents
  3. Learn English-specific intonation

Let's explain each in detail.

①Sound pronunciation training not found in Japanese

For us Japanese who have become too accustomed to katakana English, it is very difficult to accurately distinguish the sounds of R and L, for example. However, if this is not possible, the meaning of the text itself will change, and there are many situations where communication will be hindered.

“Right” and “light” are both “light” in katakana, but they are completely different words in English pronunciation. The same applies to "fly" and "fry".

Regarding the pronunciation of R and L, which Japanese people find difficult, and the pronunciation of TH, F, V, etc., even if you just try to imitate it, it will not go well.

In order to pronounce these "English-specific sounds" correctly, it is necessary to use different "muscles" than when speaking Japanese.

It is necessary to "change your muscles to English specifications" so that you can soften the muscles around your mouth and pronounce sounds peculiar to English.

② Learn English-specific accents

In English, each word has an "accent". There is an accent at the position determined for each word, and it is a characteristic of English that it is emphasized and pronounced. Japanese has no accent like English and is flat overall. Unless you "pronounce with an accent" when you speak English, Japanese English sounds very flat and monotonous.

People who pronounce English well can speak with different strengths and consciousness of accents.

③ Learn how to add intonation peculiar to English

Accents are word-by-word conscious, but intonation is the entire sentence. Intonation is "raising or lowering the tone of the sound at the sentence level", and there are basic rules such as lowering the ending of a 5W1H interrogative sentence.

[Reference article] What is the difference between "intonation and intonation", "accent and stress", and "tone"?

The basic rules of intonation are taught at school, but for example, the nuances change when you say "When? ⤵" to lower the ending according to the textbook and when you say "When? ⤴" to raise the ending. The nuances change depending on which word is emphasized in the sentence, so it is important to know how to add intonation peculiar to English in order to understand what the other person is speaking.


I'm sure there are a lot of people who have been encouraged by someone or have tried to find out for themselves and tried shadowing, an English learning training, but it didn't work and their motivation was low.

Shadowing is a training method for advanced English speakers. Discovering Sounds does not recommend shadowing until you have at least mastered the pronunciation of vowels and consonants. If you really want to make good use of shadowing, you should study from the basics of pronunciation and understand the changes in sound in sentences.

If you have troubles such as "I can't hear", "I can't keep up with the speed", or "I can't speak" in shadowing, " Learn the correct English pronunciation method" before you get a strange pronunciation habit. It's a shortcut to improve the effect of shadowing, and it also improves your listening skills.

We use a variety of native muscle exercises to teach you how to pronounce natural English, from individual pronunciation of vowels and consonants to smooth reading of sentences.