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Shadowing is very helpful as an exercise to prepare for simultaneous interpretation training, for the obvious reason that we can learn to speak over another voice and still listen to the speaker and ourself.

I was just curious whether shadowing on a daily basis ( say 30 mins a day) could improve one's fluency as well?

asked 11 Aug '12, 23:22

Cettefoisci's gravatar image


edited 19 Mar '13, 05:05

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Shadowing is considered as unhelpful in learning to interpret by many trainers, because although you are speaking and listening at the same time, you are not thinking and listening at the same time - shadowing is parroting, not reformulating as required in interpreting. Some, me included, think that it's not the speaking and listening simultaneously that is difficult, but the thinking and listening simultaneously. Try it and see!

Having said that, shadowing to improve you language skills is a completely different matter and is recommended by quite a few excellent teachers.

Déjean La Féal, K., 1997, Simultaneous Interpretation with "Training Wheels", Meta, Volume 42, Numéro 4, Pages 616-62.

Kurz, Ingrid, "Shadowing Exercises In Interpreter Training", in Dollerup and Loddegaard, Teaching Translation and Interpreting - Training, Talent and Experience, Amsterdam, Benjamins 245- 250.

I don't think you need to put a figure on it though (you mentioned 30 mins). Realistically - because trainee interpreters have lots of things they need to practice and learn every day - if you manage one 5 minute speech every day that will be a great improvement on nothing at all.

The exercise that I think is by far the best for improving any active language is mimicking. Learn off-by-heart and mimic 1-2 minute extracts from, interviews, speeches and stand-up comedians in your active languages. Repeat not only the same words but copy the speaker’s sentence intonation and pronunciation. Learn one or two per week and each week check that you still know all the extracts from previous weeks. In this way you'll develop the correct sentence intonation and rhythm when speaking your active languages. Both are very difficult to learn and often give away foreign speakers who otherwise have a very good command of the language.

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answered 12 Aug '12, 03:05

Andy's gravatar image


Thanks a lot Andy, and thanks for the link. I'll explore it. It is always good to hear from professionals and trainers like you. I'll be starting a conference interpretation course soon, and I was wondering what I need to do to be able to speak fluently without getting stuck and searching for my words, even in my A . Any ideas?

(12 Aug '12, 08:19) Cettefoisci

Hi Cettefoisci!

Another exercise you might try is paraphrasing (which, incidentally, I found really helpful for polishing up my very rusty A). Try playing around with register (e.g. making a high-register speech low-register, though to be honest it's probably more useful the other way round). It's like push-ups for your vocab...

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answered 12 Aug '12, 10:22

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Great! louise. Thanks.I'll start paraphrasing and reformulating.I'm pretty sure that'll help

Are there any books on the latter I could read up on?

(12 Aug '12, 10:52) Cettefoisci

Hi again

In that case I think the best thing would be to practise improvising speeches yourself rather than shadowing. Get someone to think up a subject at random, or prepare a set of 10-15 subjects yourself, and pick one at random, then try to speak on that subject for 2 minutes without hesitation. It works best with other students thinking up the subjects and refereeing and stop you if you hesitate, repeat yourself or stop making sense. As you improvise you should be thinking ahead to your next sentence/paragraph or the rest of the speech so that the speech remains fluent.

Good luck Andy

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answered 12 Aug '12, 12:20

Andy's gravatar image


Great! I'll follow all these pieces of advice very religiously. I have to be eloquent at all cost.

Thanks Andy

(12 Aug '12, 14:17) Cettefoisci

Hello! This is a later answer, but Chris Guichot de Fortis has recently put a new paper online, on the virtues of shadowing for reasons of fluency, accent, intonation, eloquence, emotion, reproduction, cleanliness of rendition, attention splitting, etc.: Shadowing - what, how, when, why? I hope this helps!

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answered 26 Jan '15, 13:18

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edited 26 Jan '15, 13:22

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Vincent Buck

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question asked: 11 Aug '12, 23:22

question was seen: 22,596 times

last updated: 26 Jan '15, 13:22

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