Review: Shadowing – Let’s speak Japanese

shadowing lets speak japanese
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The market for Japanese textbooks is huge and over the last couple of years I bought quite a few of them. There are so many great ones out there and each is dedicated to a slightly different approach towards learning it seems. It’s difficult to stay motivated over the years but you can make it a little easier for yourself through choosing some rewarding learning material. The Japanese graded readers series but there are many more alternatives out there which offer a slightly different approach but are equally easy to get into. The main aim of these books is to train you for native material and/or getting used to actually speaking the language. Shadowing does a surprisingly good job with both.

Training your listening comprehension at an early stage is pretty important and was actually the main thing I completely ignored at first. This was a big mistake because I didn’t develop a “feeling” for the rhythm and sound of the language. Sure I watched some Japanese films from time to time and even the occasional Anime but it’s juts not the same as actively working on understanding real spoken Japanese. And it makes perfect sense if you think about it. Because a language is meant to be spoken. A text is always just imitating that in a certain sense. Just think about how rhythm patterns and intonation are “shadowed” in a  manga. The ideal is that a spoken conversation is forming in your head. After all you always imagine a specific voice for characters in books. But if you don’t have a clear understanding how a specific dialog would sound in Japanese it’s very tough to get the flow yourself. if not impossible. And that’s why I think listening comprehension is so crucial to your learning progress even if you just want to read stuff in Japanese.

I usually recommend the fantastic Japanesepod101 but there are some great alternatives/supplements out there which can really boost your Japanese. One of the books I was eyeing for quite some time is this neat title called Shadowing. The book sports a corresponding CD where all the dialogue is recorded. In 5 big Units you learn some great ready to use expressions from ordering food at a restaurant to classic conversations. It’s specifically made for self learners of Japanese and it’s really working well for that purpose. I’m always ripping my Cds to iTunes and then just listen to them on my phone or tablet. It’s a little more convenient this way for me. A couple of days a go I started with Shadowing and tried to follow their concept closely.

You should try to “shadow” the speakers as closely as possible and repeat each phrase after your hear it. I’m sure that this is a neat tactic but I always feel a little ridiculous doing something like that. So I just sticked to listening and reading. When you finished the first volume there is also a second one available which is aimed at intermediate to advanced Japanese learners. I haven’t picked that one up yet but will definitely grab it with my next order. The main strength of Shadowing lies in the very well selected sentences. You can really use this stuff. I bet that if you know the sentences in this book by heart you will get along just fine when visiting Japan. At least you will know the basic stuff. How to ask for directions, order at a restaurant, go shopping and have some chit-chat conversations.

Like always the pictures should give you a pretty good idea what the book is about.

  • Buy Shadowing: Let’s learn Japanese from WhiteRabbitJapan
    If you buy the book through my link I’ll get a small referral fee which will be used to buy even more awesome stuff for review. Thanks!

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Do you see the little lightbulb symbol? That’s the marker for further explanations in the back of the book. Neatly done. On the next picture you can have a glimpse at the given explanation for this specific entry.

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  • Buy Shadowing: Let’s learn Japanese from WhiteRabbitJapan
    If you buy the book through my link I’ll get a small referral fee which will be used to buy even more awesome stuff for review. Thanks!
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