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Quick Write 093011 “Shadowing before anything”

In tonight’s class, Dr. Beglar emphasized the effectiveness and importance of shadowing and dictation as listening practice. He started commenting on those two methods as “It’s 2011. Dictation has always been there. Obsolete? Well, it actually works pretty well. So does shadowing.” I’m not a big fan of dictation as a classroom activity, but I know it works for learners to pile up phonological features of words, phrases, or sentences, in other words, to enrich the database of how the language actually sounds to them. So the professor’s remark made me feel like revisiting how listening practice should be arranged in a classroom.

In terms of classroom activity, I’d buy repeating (repeat meaningful chunks of words after teacher), Ondoku (read the script aloud), overlapping (read the script aloud along with the audio) and shadowing (reproduce what has been spoken a few seconds later). I usually implement those activities in the order of repeating, Ondoku, overlapping, and shadowing. The rationale for this is that learners need to understand what was spoken before they shadow the phonological information thereof. Otherwise, they’d only parrot meaningless chunks of sounds. But Dr. Beglar’s remark on shadowing invited me to the second thought. What if I reverse the order as shadowing, overlapping, and Ondoku?

Here’s my hypothesis: When learners try shadowing the audio before checking unfamiliar words, phrases, and sentence constructions, the only resource they’d obtain in order to keep shadowing is the phonological information. It could mean that shadowing forces learners to pay maximum attention to the phonological features. This is something I’m simulating on my own, and thus have no empirical evidence thereof, but I can sense that “shadowing before anything” works in classroom to such an extent.

After several times of shadowing, learners might be frustrated that they don’t fully comprehend the content even though they’ve made some inferences. That is a teachable moment. When the learners are allowed to go to the script and find out what was actually spoken thorough reading the written script, anything unclear while shadowing becomes clear. This “unclear-clear contrast” may facilitate learning of new words, phrases, and sentence constructions in the script. Next, they go onto overlapping to get used to the tempo and rhythm of the audio while simultaneously understanding what they utter. Then, they do Ondoku to revisit newly learned words, phrases, and sentence construction in their own pace of speaking.

(25minutes / 396 words)

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Aya

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