Screenshot from short film "Post It"

Shadowing in English: 4 Short Films for Fun Practice

“Repeat after me…”

How many times have you heard that in class or with your tutor?

Repeating spoken English—also known as English shadowing—is an effective technique to improve pronunciation, intonation and overall English speaking skills.

In this post, we’ll show you four compelling short films in English for spectacular shadowing practice.



What Is English Shadowing and How Does It Help?

English shadowing (sometimes called “echoing”) involves repeating a piece of English audio word-for-word as you listen. You might already have done this in class when you repeat a new phrase along with your teacher. You may also shadow when you sing along to your favorite English songs.

Shadowing is a great method for beginner learners to improve English speaking. That’s because it gets you in the habit of speaking English out loud right from the start.

While you may not understand everything you’re saying, you’ll be mimicking correct English pronunciation, which will set you up for success in spoken English. It’ll also get you more comfortable and confident so you improve English speaking in general.

Use These Short Films for Fast and Fun English Shadowing Practice Material

Since there are so many short films available, it may be overwhelming to find a place to start. Here’s a list of some films to get you started. They vary in subject matter so you may find one that interests you.

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Of course, your options aren’t limited to this list. Use it as a starting point to find much more English shadowing practice material.

If you’re already using English films in your language learning, the shadowing technique is a way for you to get even more practice.

1. “If Women Ruled the World”

This is a short film about a young professional woman who finds herself in a world ruled by women.

What to listen for:

  • American accent
  • Workplace vocabulary
  • Debate-style dialogue

The comedic film takes place in an office environment, so you’ll have the chance to practice workplace vocabulary and business English. Since the message of the film is gender equality, much of the dialogue and vocabulary will be centered on this topic.

Note that there are also some common English swear words throughout this film.

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2. “The Gift”

This is an animated short film about a young girl who wants to give a gift to her parents. It’s a cute short film that’s a great start if you’re new to shadowing in English.

What to listen for:

  • Questions
  • Simple verbs

This film contains very little dialogue as it’s mostly centered around action, but the little dialogue you do hear is simple to shadow. You’ll practice verbs such as “to be” (I am/I was) and I need.

3. “The Expert”

This is a satirical (funny; making fun of something) movie about an office meeting.

What to listen for:

  • British accent
  • Workplace vocabulary
  • Introductions in English

You’ll find this one a bit challenging, but you need to push yourself if you want to learn, right?

Not only do the speakers use British English, but they also speak quickly. Still, it’ll give you an opportunity to practice the shadowing technique while listening to English spoken in a comedic fashion.

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You can always slow down the audio on YouTube (click the gear icon, then “Playback speed”). Just be aware it may warp the intonation a bit. Practice shadowing on a slow speed and gradually get faster and faster to regular speed.

4. “Post-It”

This is a charming short film. It’s focused on a woman who’s curious about a man she meets and a large box he’s carrying. It’s a great example of a casual, informal conversation in English.

What to listen for:

  • Introductions in English
  • Descriptions of people

This film contains automatically generated subtitles from YouTube. You can choose one of the characters to shadow, or if you’re feeling confident, try shadowing both.

Why Short Films Are Great English Shadowing Practice Material

Short films allow you to listen to real-world English that isn’t too long and overwhelming. Many short films are no more than 20 minutes and some are less than 10 minutes. You can view them on your work break and practice the dialogue all day. It helps to have a written transcript if one is available.

Since short films are brief, the dialogue is typically limited and simple to follow. And since films rely on visual communication, it’ll be easy for you to determine what’s going on, so you can make the connection between the spoken English and the situation.

If you have transcripts in your native language and in English, you can shadow knowing exactly what you’re saying. Later, you can use the scripts in your vocabulary or grammar study. If no transcripts are available, use subtitles. You may even find it helpful to copy the subtitles and review them this way.

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You can also use a language program that provides transcripts or subtitles. For instance, FluentU has both.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

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How to Shadow English Audio Correctly

  • Before you start shadowing in English, make sure you’re in a quiet space where you won’t be distracted. You need your full concentration on the English audio to be successful.
  • You may want to listen to the clip a few times before you start shadowing. When you’re ready, press “play” again and repeat what you hear while you listen. The idea is to speak along with the audio, so you learn the natural pace, rhythm and intonation of English.
  • Some shadowing experts recommend adding your own expressions once you’re comfortable. Varying one or two words allows you to test what you’ve learned and practice participating in an English dialogue.
  • To avoid becoming overwhelmed, you’ll only want to shadow with short audio clips. Start with only a few lines of dialogue at a time. This will allow you to listen more carefully and shadow more precisely. The more you practice, the longer you’ll be able to shadow.
  • Not quite ready to shadow simultaneously? You can prepare with audio-learning programs like Pimsleur. You get authentic English audio, and Pimsleur has you repeat the right words and phrases at the right time. You will get comfortable with English repetition quickly, and can then transfer your skills to English shadowing.


You shouldn’t limit yourself to the films on this list. Do some digging. What topic interests you? There are too many films out there to count.

Get started with English shadowing by using short films, and discover how fast you improve English speaking!

And One More Thing...

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:


If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.


FluentU lets you learn engaging content with world famous celebrities.

For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:


FluentU lets you tap to look up any word.

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.


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The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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