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Shadowing Spanish: 3 Excellent Resources to Hone Pronunciation and Intonation

Also known as “parroting,” language shadowing is a repetition technique that helps you speak with the pronunciation and intonation of a native.

One of the ways we learn to speak our native language as children is through repetition, so if it worked for native language acquisition, then it stands to reason that it’ll work for learning Spanish as well!

Check out these excellent resources that you can use to make Spanish shadowing part of your language plan.

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What Is Spanish Shadowing?

Shadowing is a popular technique invented by Alexander Arguelles. Mr. Arguelles is a polyglot whose lifelong devotion to language learning has enabled him to share his knowledge with other language learners. Here he explains how his method works—and why it applies to language learning:

The basic tenet of shadowing is to listen to continuous, uninterrupted Spanish speech and repeat what you hear at the same time as the audio. Your goal is to be the audio’s echo and speak along with it as closely as possible.

The point is to make similar sounds to the narration, with little or no focus on actually comprehending the words. You’re looking to develop sound patterns and will eventually gain a better understanding of how to use accurate pronunciation and intonation. Shadowing is useful because it mimics the natural method we use to attain language skills. 

There are two basic ways to shadow. You can repeat while reading subtitles or a transcript of what’s being said. Alternatively, you can shadow by only listening, without the aid of the written narration. This method, referred to as “blind shadowing,” will help you focus on the sounds, and not worry too much about the individual words or their meanings.

Resources for Spanish Shadowing

Any resource that features short films, video clips, news clips or narrative passages is useful for Spanish shadowing practice. For increased enjoyment—and to eliminate any possible boredom!—look for stimulating, relevant and interesting content for shadowing practice.

YouTube: Short Flicks and More

On YouTube, you can find audio and videos from native speakers on literally any topic. The platform even offers some short films in Spanish. Films are fun to shadow since you get a wider range of voices and you can try to mimic each character’s tone and mannerisms.

Although most have English subtitles, there’s a method for adding Spanish subtitles! Remember, shadowing is still useful even if you don’t understand all of what you’re repeating. So with or without Spanish subtitles, these are good ways to get some shadowing practice in.

“La frontera” (The Border)

This is a poignant story of family love. In this short drama, a couple travels tirelessly in hopes of being reunited with their daughter.

“The Monk Girl”

This Spanish short story is beautifully illustrated and is ideal for shadowing purposes! There are dual English and Spanish subtitles and the narrator’s pronunciation is super clear and concise.

FluentU: Authentic Spanish Shadowing

FluentU offers a large library of video clips from authentic Spanish media such as movie trailers, scenes from TV shows, news segments and more.

Every video comes with a downloadable transcript and interactive subtitles available in Spanish and English. The subtitles can easily be toggled on and off so you can practice different methods of shadowing.

Since the content on FluentU is made by and for native speakers, you’ll be hearing and practicing the language as it’s actually used in real life. Here are a couple of options you can find on the FluentU website or app. 

“Pocoyó Goes Ice Skating”

shadowing-spanish

This charming cartoon might be for kids, but it’s the perfect starter for beginning Spanish learners to hone their shadowing technique while learning some new adjectives.

“What Should We Do?”

shadowing-spanish

What do two guys talk about on a park bench? Everyday stuff, really. This clip is perfect for shadowing regular, natural speech.

Vimeo: Short Shadowing Sessions

Vimeo has some super short Spanish films that are ideal for shadowing. The ones we’ve chosen here have English subtitles, which is very helpful, but for shadowing purposes it would be better to have them in Spanish. Or not at all—since the idea of shadowing is to grab a feel for the spoken language.

Captions or subtitles can be added to Vimeo films by uploading the video transcript, uploading a translation of the dialogue from the English subtitles into Spanish or purchasing them from Vimeo’s trusted providers. The process isn’t difficult so if you’re looking for Spanish subtitles, Vimeo has you covered!

All three of these Vimeo videos are engaging and entertaining, with pretty simple vocabulary and speech that isn’t too fast to repeat.  

“El oscuro viajero” (The Dark Traveler)

This short film is about a man who’s been through an accident—and lived to experience life in a new, and somewhat different, manner. The question is: Is he a time traveler—or not?

“Juan con miedo” (Fearful John)

This short tale features a boy visiting his grandparents, a girl with a story and a fear-provoking legend. If you don’t mind being slightly frightened, this is a good one to watch!

“La princesa Alegría” (The Happiness Princess)

This charming tale about a happy princess and the king who desperately wants her secret to happiness is so entertaining you just might shadow it more than once. The vocabulary is basic, the plot and characters are sweet and the ending is heartwarming.

 

Shadowing gives Spanish learners a feel for the language, exposure to idioms and an engaging method to practice speaking. Additionally, it’s an absolute vocabulary gold mine! There’s so much vocabulary to learn and from such interesting sources.

This technique is beneficial for native language learning and many have found it helpful for learning Spanish, too. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain, so why not try shadowing?

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