shadowing japanese

Shadowing Japanese: Super Resources to Get You Shadowing Better Than a Parrot

Parroting is just another word for shadowing, which is basically the natural way humans acquire language.

Think about how a child learns to speak; most little ones repeat what they hear, they mimic what’s being said.

This process works like a charm for our native languages and it can work for second or third languages like Japanese, too!

Let’s check out some slick materials that’ll have you shadowing Japanese immediately!



What Is Japanese Shadowing?

Shadowing as a method of language learning gained a good reputation thanks to Alexander Arguelles, an American linguist who’s fluent in many languages. He’s a proponent of the shadowing technique that he developed—a spin-off of natural language learning.

Many have used his method as a means to foreign language success with relative ease.

He explains the method in detail in this YouTube video. It’s short and straightforward, so if you want to hear it from the man himself, take a peek.

The basic concept is only marginally different from what we all did to learn our native tongue.

The most obvious difference? Adult learners are able to read, so transcripts or subtitles can make shadowing easier.

How Do You Use Shadowing in Japanese?

Listen, read and repeat is the sequence for this skill-building journey.

There’s no need to understand everything that’s being said or read.

You’ll gain confidence and learn by speaking. Optimally, you should repeat the passages you’re using immediately after the initial speaker, or even at the same time as the speaker you’re shadowing.

This is a superb method for gaining pronunciation practice!

And no worries if you miss something. Just repeat and shadow again!

An important part of Japanese shadowing is using fun and interesting resources. They should be engaging and, if possible, offer transcripts or subtitles.

Resources to Have You Shadowing Japanese Immediately 


shadowing japanese

Japanese Vimeo films are a sensational way to practice shadowing.

The Japanese film channel provides viewers with an array of Japanese movies. There’s something for everyone here, with options that range from documentaries to short films—and even animated pieces!

These videos offer some excellent conversational phrases for learners to pick up and incorporate into their own Japanese vocabulary. You can learn about weather, wildlife, education and other cultural themes by watching videos on this channel.

I’ve got a couple of fun Japanese Vimeos for you to watch to get the Japanese shadowing ball rolling!

Consider these for some shadowing work:

Shaky Girl

shadowing japanese

This film is about a sweet love story. A family of foot shakers might sound a bit far-fetched, but that’s what this video showcases! Yuriko comes from this family, and, you guessed it, has shaky feet too. When a kind, young man reaches out compassionately to help her, her life takes a sudden and unexpected twist.


The conversations in this video are ideal for shadowing practice. The sentences are uncomplicated, the pronunciation is authentic and it’s a snap to shadow the entire short film. Watch it a few times, and watch your Japanese speaking skills grow better with each pass.

Not Boiled Enough

shadowing japanese

This video is both heartwarming and funny. The scenery is gorgeous, too!

Two young lovers head to catch a train, toting a box of lobsters that conceal a surprise. The young man takes his time getting to the heart of the discussion, but that makes the conversation even more appealing.

This is an exceptional means for Japanese learners to grab some shadowing practice. The words and phrases are basic. It’s easy to parrot this video and gain both pronunciation skills as well as speaking practice.

I have to be honest. I watched this three times—and enjoyed it every single time!



This app (available for iOS and Android) and website can be another good resource for shadowing.

FluentU uses authentic videos as a basis for its Japanese language learning program. The videos are organized by level and specific interests and include everything from movie clips and news segments to vlog interviews and funny commercials.

All videos are equipped with interactive dual-language and optional furigana subtitles that you can toggle on and off, depending on if you want your shadowing practice to be guided by text or not. The subtitles are written and checked by language experts, ensuring their accuracy.

These subtitles are also interactive, allowing you to check the meaning of any word by hovering over or clicking on it. You can add words to flashcard lists and study them with personalized quizzes that include speaking options. Flashcards include clips from other FluentU videos where the word appears, so you can practice shadowing those for additional practice.

You can easily replay specific sentences with a button or even set them to loop if you want to repeat a certain part a few times until you can match the speed of the video’s speaker. There are also transcripts that are interactive in the same way as the subtitles (click for a definition and the option to save a word to your flashcards).

Shadowing Let’s Speak Japanese Beginner to Intermediate Edition

Shadowing Let's Speak Japanese Beginner to Intermediate Edition

This book and CD are a great addition to a Japanese language program. It’s a beginner level to intermediate level resource, so the featured conversations are uncomplicated.

Both male and female speakers engage in the dialogues, so there are different tones and cadences to use for shadowing.

The CD makes this a very portable learning tool. It’s ideal for car trips or work commutes! The accompanying book provides a transcript of the material so there aren’t any untranslated passages.

The program is conveniently segmented. Make the most of this format by tackling one section at a time, repeating the shadowing technique until you’re able to easily accompany the featured speaker.

Repeat as many times as necessary!

Learn Japanese Pod

shadowing japanese

Podcasts lend themselves to shadowing so well! And while it’s not absolutely necessary to understand everything that’s being said, it’s a bonus if the material is interesting. Sooner or later, you’ll grasp the content so it might as well be interesting, right?

These podcasts cover a multitude of subjects. Topics include interviews, cultural issues, grammar problems, conversation starters and so much more! The podcasts range in length so if you’re pressed for time choose a short one. Have an hour or so to spend shadowing? Then go for one of the more in-depth podcasts.

The audio is free and available to everyone. Signing up for a membership isn’t necessary in order to hear the podcasts but membership benefits include extras, like transcripts.

Learn Japanese Online with Bond Lingo

This YouTube channel provides binge-worthy Japanese videos! There’s so much variety in the topics covered that any Japanese learner will be able to locate a video of personal interest.

These are great for short bursts of learning since many of them are very brief. Turn up the volume and speak along with the videos! It honestly doesn’t take long to see an improvement when employing the shadowing technique. So, binge away and watch your Japanese skills flourish!

Try These 7 Japanese Tongue Twisters!!!

This is a really fun and funny video to use for Japanese shadowing practice! A major bonus is that the words and translations are right in front of you so that you can read while you shadow. It took me several times to even get close to getting these tongue twisters right, but the process was certainly comical!


Shadowing is our natural language learning method. It’s the way we get a feel for the cadence of a language, learn conversational expressions and idioms and build a solid vocabulary.

And let’s face it—shadowing is fun!

Shadowing worked wonders when we were kids and it’s just as effective now that we’re grown up.

Vary your videos and audio dialogue to keep your interest piqued and remember, progress comes from practice so the more you watch and shadow, the faster your skills will grow!

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