Any advice on shadowing?

i just tried shadowing for the first time yesterday and it was so much harder than i thought! I can speak everyday japanese ok for the most part so i was surprised how much of my (limited) brain power this took.

Is it something that gets easier with practice? Should i stop whining and just trust the process??


I don’t have an answer since I haven’t tried it yet (although I bought two combination book+CD sets which I hope to try soon).

But I’m curious - what material(s) were you using to do your shadowing?

at first i tried a podcast but it was way too fast for me to follow even with the speed slowed down :sob:

I then found a video on youtube where it was a conversation between two people with pauses in between each sentence, which was a bit more manageable, still hurt my brain though :confused:

Do you record and replay yourself to compare with the reference? There are smartphone apps that help with that specifically.


Maybe do it in little bursts. Concentrate on little parts you want to know how to say well. Even in English I would probably find it taxing to try to say everything.

I do this a lot, but never whole conversations, just to practice a cool saying, a difficult conjugation, complicated sentence structure etc


That works well for me too. Also, I only shadow if I have a transcript and I already know what I’m saying. Doing a podcast sounds like a huge challenge, maybe something to aspire to rather than where to start?


I like this video series about listening practice. Starting with shadowing is difficult if you haven’t built up the brain muscle to process Japanese sounds. This series offers a week’s worth of practice material for training sound recognition.


I used to do it during my commute with the Japanese story the cut tongue sparrow. You’ll notice there are several variations of the story included here (slow, fast, with and without English translation). Depending on your level, any of them may be appropriate.

I did most of my shadowing using this, although not sold on shadowing as a magic bullet as much as others seem to be. I do think it has value, though. Lots of muscle memory with your speaking apparatus and you probably learn to speak with the enunciations and tone of the native person you are shadowing.


why are you and @potatonaught soooo amazing?

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Go little by little. If you’re trying to make a habit of it that’s kind of the secret. I bought a book on shadowing, I’ll put some of the how to here:

  1. Look at the text and check the meaning.
  2. Silent shadowing - say it in your head without saying it out loud.
  3. Move your mouth without looking at the text. Mumble what you hear.
  4. Shadow the script. Read it out loud while reading the script.
  5. Shadow without looking at the text.

There’s some extra stuff about focusing on tone and being aware of what is being said but that’s up to how deep you wanna go.


My view is if you don’t love doing shadowing then don’t do it. Better to concentrate on spending time on understanding japanese people when they speak or understanding when you read japanese than spend time on something which possibly doesnt have much value to you such as shadowing.

Further to my point above. If someone anted to learn your native language and asked if they should spend time shadowing would you advise them that that would be a good use of their time?

Depends where you are in your journey.

Schizo post:
I think if I had any complaint about the Japanese learning community is that there is an idea you can completely avoid certain elements of language learning. This usually comes in the form of “you don’t need to learn X.” But there should be giant * there to clarify “… At this stage.” While there’s controversy over pitch accent, what people are usually saying is “of all the things you need to learn about Japanese, pitch accent is very low on the list because it’s gonna bog you down the most.” But a lot of people just say “you don’t need to learn it.” And that’s the end of it.


I used to have a similar view towards shadowing (and passive listening). It didn’t make sense to me. Then I talked with probably one of the most impressive japanese learners I know about his opinions on it. He said that the primary benefit of shadowing wasn’t actually pronunciation or anything, and that it had more implications in your brains ability to laser focus in on the TL that you’re hearing. To quote them exactly…

People shadow a lot to help with output, but I think it’s superior at training ability to interpret audio input…

…It has, however, helped me laser focus in on idiosyncrasies in the way individuals speak, both in terms of sound and wording, and this in turn has sometimes helped with my ability to pay close, high-quality attention to audio due to the habit of focusing so i can reproduce it.

Anyways, they are way better than me and I respect them, so following my general principle I shut up and just gave it a genuine try for a couple months (like a year ago). The results were actually very nice and I still continue both passive listening and shadowing until this day a year later. Shadowing takes a lot more brain power (which is the point) so I do it in short bursts while I listen to vtuber 雑談.

I do agree that for people early on, shadowing doesn’t have as much value compared to other things. But once you are at like an intermediate level of listening I think it starts to become viable. I was pretty bad at listening when I started and I still got a lot out of it. You’re still listening to japanese content, so its really just an extra layer on top of listening rather than some special separate activity. Moral of the story: if good people suggest it, don’t knock it till you try it