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!!!