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Language learning: the secret

Happy New Year everyone!

Hope you had some fun downtime and are now ready to get your language learning started again!

It’s a new year and that means resolutions. Some of mine are language related and I hope yours are too. I discovered an article at CBC News that may help us – it promises the secret to learning languages!

We can’t all be like Alexander Arguelles, an American polyglot who spends nine hours a day studying different languages. Most of us can only spare a little time each day or each week. But he may have one technique we can all use – exercising our brains as well as our bodies. When Arguelles goes running, he listens to an audio book in one of his target languages. Not all of us go running of course, but we can listen whilst doing other types of exercises – I sing along to Spanish words whilst doing Zumba, for example.

And there’s the technique mentioned in the article – shadowing.

The method is simple: go outside, put on headphones and play a bit of the language you’re trying to learn.

Then walk briskly, staying upright and, in a loud, clear voice, try to repeat what you hear, simultaneously. Hear, repeat, hear, repeat and march around.

Odd, yes, but effective.

Erard says shadowing has a number of things going for it. It gets you used to people looking at you when you’re doing something new, so it reduces the embarrassment factor.

It also hooks up kinetics to the language, so it engages those gross motor skills and makes you less focused on what’s going on with your mouth and tongue. Plus it exercises your working memory, which is key to learning a foreign language. (Source: CBC)

Sounds pretty simple! I realised my teacher also uses this technique in class – I used to feel pretty silly repeating the same phrase over and over with others, like I was a kid again, but it actually works!

Have you tried shadowing?