If you’ve been learning English for a while, but feel like your speaking has plateaued, this is normal. Many learners reach a point where they’re able to communicate but still struggle to make words sound natural. If this is familiar to you, I think I have something that can help. It’s a little exercise called shadowing practice. Keep reading to learn more!


Several people's shadows cast on a wall making hand gestures. Text reads "English Shadowing Practice."


Shadowing practice: What is it?

The basic idea is this: observe and imitate. Easy enough, right?

If you use the MosaLingua app, you already get some pronunciation practice when you repeat the words and phrases on the flashcards you’re learning. But great speech is more than just pronunciation. It’s also about rhythm, intonation, connected speech, reductions, and on and on. When you practice shadowing, you’ll acquire a lot of those elements naturally in one holistic exercise. These exercises are going to help your English really start to flow!

One last thing before we get into the fun part: since I’m American, the video below won’t be suitable for you if you’re trying to learn a more British-sounding or other English accent. When choosing someone to shadow, it’s important to pick someone with an accent that you’d like to have, so if mine isn’t your cup of tea, I’d suggest checking out a video by my colleagues Lizzie or Lisa Joy.

How does shadowing practice work?

In the video below, I walk you through a few English sentences that are perfect for shadowing practice. There are a few different ways to shadow, but here’s what we recommend at MosaLingua:

Listen to the sentence three times:

  • The first time, just listen. You may even want to close your eyes so you can focus on the sounds and the rhythm of the sentence.
  • The second time, watch the shape of my mouth and my hand movements, which will give you some guidance on stress and pitch. Then, pause the video and repeat after me. If possible, record yourself this time, and then compare it to mine.
  • And the third time, really echo me: say the sentence right along with me and try to match your speed and intonation as closely as possible. (In the video below, I’ll also point out a few spots that might be tricky so you know what to focus on.)

WATCH: The Most Beautiful Words in English

When you’re ready to dive in, give my video a watch. Even if you prefer to practice with British English accents, I think it’ll be helpful for you to go through this video once to see how I break the shadowing exercise down into easy steps. The video is in English, but subtitles are available in several languages. Turn them on by clicking the Settings gear in the bottom right corner.

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