Shadow Your Way to Becoming a Better English Speaker (or any language speaker actually!)

Shadowing really works! I have seen many students improve their ability put to words together in a spoken English sentence. It helps them be able to pronounce at a smoother pace as well.

What is "shadowing" you might be asking at this point? Please let me explain. Shadowing is a much more effective way to improve your spoken communication skills. Basically you take your audio CD's with your text books and practice speaking the phrases just behind the voice actor. Try to imitate the rhythm and intonation as well. DO NOT SPEAK IN A MONOTONE VOICE! (If you don't actually use your audio CD's you are really missing a great opportunity so please use them!) You are speaking 2 or 3 words BEHIND the voice actor. You do NOT WAIT until the sentence finishes. This does two things. 1. Helps you improve you listening skills and 2. speaking skills simultaneously. If it is too difficult to do it BLIND (while not reading) you can read it the first couple of times. However, you should practice this until you can shadow without reading the text. Your ear automatically becomes familiar with the English much more quickly as well

Try the recording challenge as well. The vast majority of people learning English in Japan have smart phones. I am ,however, surprised that many do not know how to use their smart phone voice recorders that are built into the more popular models. Figure it out or ask me and I will show you how to use it. The point is to use the voice recorder and listen to yourself after you have recorded a shadowing session. Do this regularly and you will hear the difference as you start to improve.

Speaking English well involves being able to reproduce the sounds of our language accurately and in a timely manner as well. Remember English and Japanese are kind of like night and day. (Very unrelated) Remember also to NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use katakana when learning how to pronounce ANY English words. It's very inaccurate If you are content to just do the bare minimum in your learning adventure, then so be it. However, those of you who would like to step up to the next levels with more fun and fluencey give shadowing a try as part of your daily English practice, you'll be glad you did!!!

マイク マッカーヒ

Are you ready?


With the end of the year fast approaching I would like to ask all of you reading this: what is your New Year's promise to yourself for learning English? Are you willing to do what it takes to become better skilled in the art of English communication? Or, are you just going to plod along in a mediocre fashion? Putting your fifty minutes in a class per week and hoping that it is enough to improve might be false thinking. Sorry. Realistic effort and careful planning separates my skilled students from my permanent beginners. I hope you want to uplevel you abilities. I know I certainly want you to do this.

If you really want to improve I think you have to evaluate your skill priority. What is most important for your skill set: reading. speaking, writing or reading? Or, do you want to be competent in all four? Some of my more skilled students are ready and willing to put the time in to make this happen. One of the most interesting quotes I have heard about language learning is that "It's just one word after another."

I think this might be accurate but there is bit more involved to it than that. More like: "One grammar pattern, one vocabulary set and on paragraph after another." But in essence the former statement is true one a foundational level, or beginner level, but the latter is more comprehensive.

Just curious if you are willing to practice pronunciation daily in front of a mirror to help? Are you willing to record you classes or voice to improve? Have you ever heard youself speaking English? Are you willing use half your screen time in English (including smartphone, computer, television)? Are you willing and able to write a small daily journal in English to hone those grammar skills? I sure hope so. If you want me to correct your grammar in a journal just let me know. I will take the time before or after class to correct spelling an grammar.

If you are making the same mistakes over and over again have you ever thought why? After teaching for several years now and studying Japanese for many years now I think I know the answer. It requires self evaluation (you) and neutral evaluation (your instructors).

Motivation is what I often speak to my students a lot about. Why are they studying English? What is the long term goal? What are the steps and processes for skill development? Are you more goal oriented or process oriented? I have learned that the goals take care of themselves naturally when the process (habits) become the goal. A new habit takes about three weeks to take hold. (I mean to be effective and long lasting) Good luck and Ganbatte. Study/Practice everyday!

マイク マッコーヒ

oriented or process oriented?





Well it is already 2015 and have you noticed how fast last year went. Time flies fast when your having fun, not sure that is all true. As for me, it wasn't the best for me. But I'm hanging in there and trying harder this year to put away the bad and accepting the good.

I hope all went well with you all and that it wasn't so bad for yourself. I'm sure some of you still have some shinnenkai's to attend later this weekend and the following weeks.

New years resolutions? Please don't say "I'm going to study harder!" A resolution is suppose to be challenging but studying is not one of the things you can do for 365 days, or is it?

Let's see what Tokyo has to offer around the city for this week.

Until Jan18th, Furusato Matsuri Tokyo 2015

Located outside the Tokyo Dome area

Sat. Jan10th-Jan.12th Daikoku Matsuri

Located at Kanda Shrine

Until Sat. Oct.31st Flower Garden 2014

Tobu Zoo

And if your still looking for illuminations, there are plenty of that all over Tokyo, so bring your spouse, partner or loved one and enjoy the many lights Tokyo has to offer.

Hope everyone will be healthy, wise and happy through 2015.

Regards, Paul