Shadowing is a technique for studying a foreign language where you read the dialog of a CD script while the track is playing. The purpose is to improve pronunciation, intonation, rhythm, speaking speed and listening. It is also used to make some expressions natural to use in everyday situations. Many expressions have automatic responses, for example: when you arrive home you say 「ただいま」 and the automatic response is always 「おかえり」. Repeating expressions often should give you the ability to use these kinds of expressions naturally.

Shadowing-frontThis book is titled “Shadowing” (or 「シャドーイング」). The book is made for shadowing small and simple Japanese conversations. It is broken down into 5 units and each unit is broken down into 8 sections. The first three units are for level 4 and 3 of the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test or 日本語能力試験). The last two units contain vocabulary and grammar that are included on the JLPT 2 test. Each of the sections contains about 10 mini conversations for you to shadow. There are translations of each conversation in English, Chinese and Korean. Notes about culture or special words are also explained in each unit. Knowledge of hiragana and katakana are required to read the Japanese scripts.

Shadowing-backThey authors have a recommended way to use this book. I also have a technique that worked great for me and here it is: First, I listened to the track while reading along in the book. At this stage, I pay special attention to the intonation and rhythm. Next I listen to the track again and this time I pause at the end of each line and repeat it the best I can. Then I listen one more time and read the scripts with the CD full speed without pausing. I work on the same track for a few days, at least 3, until I can repeat all of the sounds perfectly and smoothly. The first day I read the English translation and the following days I cover the English translation and try to “feel” the meaning of the conversation. I try and picture the scene in my head. This technique is a bit difficult with this text because the conversations are so short.

I also keep the completed tracks on my iPod and when I am cycling or jogging, the shuffle sometimes plays these. Between music tracks I can shadow the conversation while exercising. For you to be able to do this you need to have heard the tracks before because you need to listen and repeat in real time. Since I am in public, I often whisper the words or just mouth them. Be careful: this can be annoying if you keep too many of these tracks on your iPod.

Shadowing-sampleIn my opinion this book is a must have for any beginner student. Its relatively cheap at only ¥1400. The conversations are short, simple and natural. The book is filled with everyday expressions that will make you feel more fluent and confident to speak Japanese. As soon as you have finished learning hiragana and katakana you should supplement your textbook with this book!

PS: Do not buy this as a study guide for JLPT. This for speaking and natural communication. There are no exercises for the JLPT test included.

About steve

I have lived in Japan since 2004. I love Japan and studying Japanese.