Alexander Arguelles is a polymath who says it’s more effective to teach yourself a language than to take a class. He has an interesting page on his blog called “Guide to autodidatic foreign language study” where he demonstrates his method of practicing speaking a foreign language while walking briskly.

Comparing language learning to learning a musical instrument or a  sport, he says the first thing is to learn proper posture. Then, he says a brisk walk is needed to focus the attention on the material, a slow walk will have you soon distracted.

His method of language learning uses twenty minute segments; anything longer and focus will be lost.  He alternates writing with speaking, and changes languages frequently to keep from becoming fatigued.  The video also shows his system of recording his practice in a notebook in order to track his progress. Ironically, the video is 56 minutes.

The method is called “shadowing”, and involves reading out loud along with a recording of a native speaker, a the same time or slightly behind the speaker. He also works on several chapters at a time, reviewing the older chapters while pushing ahead with exposure to newer material. I tried this with my class; they say they like it.


2 Responses to “Shadowing”

  1. terrycollmann Says:

    I have a friend who learns languages very easily, and who taught himself Danish from books. Trouble was, when he went to Denmark he couldn’t understand a word anybody said: they pronounced it completely differently from the way he had heard it in his head.

  2. Nijma Says:

    Too funny, but these days it’s so easy to get language CDs and transfer them to an mp3 player.

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