Shadowing is a technique for improving pronunciation popularised by the polyglot Alexander Arguelles. There are many YouTube videos about the technique; most of them don't demonstrate shadowing in the way it was described by Arguelles. A very popular example (by number of views) is Julian Northbrook's video How to improve your English Speaking and Fluency: SHADOWING.

In the YouTube video SHADOWING: Revisited (watch before you try ...), the Bulgarian language teacher Vladimir Skenderoff criticises the technique and claims that it "is mainly recommended for interpreter trainees", so it is only really appropriate for very advanced learners of a foreign language. The statement about interpreter trainees comes from a comment on one of his videos, so it does not come from what I consider a reliable source. So my question is: Is it true that shadowing is a technique for interpreter trainees? Obviously, I am looking for answers based on reliable sources.


I think shadowing is definitely not just for interpreters trainees. My source is the video that Professor Alexander Arguelles made. He clearly intends it to be used by beginners for the purpose of learning a language from scratch, and talks about Shadowing generally for the first 20 minutes, after which he dives into the details of how you could use the technique together with Assimil. Indeed, this is the method that he used to learn countless languages. That is not to say that shadowing shouldn't ALSO be used by interpreter trainees. And it's also not to say that shadowing (or any specific technique) is for everybody.

  • Thanks for your answer. However, I'm not looking for ways in which it can be used, but for its source or origin. Arguelles did not invent shadowing, as far as I know, so I am looking for information based on books, articles etc about the training of interpreters (unless that is not where it comes from). – Christophe Strobbe Oct 3 '18 at 18:23
  • As far as I know, Arguelles is the source. At the very least, the polyglot community knows about it largely from him. – AML Oct 3 '18 at 20:09
  • Arguelles is the source of his own version of shadowing, but, as far as I know he did not invent shadowing. – Christophe Strobbe Oct 4 '18 at 9:46

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.