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How we practice spoken foreign language via shadowing and echoing

Enjune Zhang

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How we practice spoken foreign language via shadowing and echoing

如何通过影子跟读 & 回声跟读提升外语听力口语水平

 

Have you been wondering why you have watched a bunch of videos in foreign language but still fail to utter the word appropriately and fluently when you need to. That's probably because you watch but never practice based on what you've watched.

为何看了那么多外语视频还是不能在口语交流中流畅而确切地措辞?那是因为你只是看了视频,却没有据之进行相应的跟读练习。

 

What we need to make it communicating fluently and finding the exact expression fitting the certain context when we speak? Basically three elements, familiarity of the wordings, pronunciation you are confident with, and swift reaction to what you've heard. Simply put, to manage a conversation well you need to know what the other party means, figure out the suitable words you would like to apply to convey what's in your mind, and pronounce it accurately enough for others to understand. If you stagger in any part mentioned above, the conversation lacks the fluency and agile state of mind to go smooth. 

为了能在口语交流中的流畅表达,找出符合语境的那个字眼,我们要做些什么?基本而言,有三点:第一,提高对词汇的熟悉度;第二,练就自信的发音;第三,能迅速反应所听到的内容。再简单粗暴点,要无碍沟通,就得知道对方在说什么,找到表达心中所想的那个词,并通过能让对方正确理解的发音说出来。如果上述三者中某一项不过关,沟通流畅度会降低,沟通者难以维持轻松敏捷的交流状态,对话也会随之受阻。

 

You may find that people good at talking with foreigners have a lot in common, and that's far from coincidence. First of all, their listening comprehension of foreign language won't get in the way of further expression. They make it understanding what the other is talking about in seconds, and the faster it is, the less time it takes for him to respond.

你会发现善于用外语交流的人都有相似点,而且这不是巧合。首先,他们对外语有较强的听力理解能力,这保证了下一步的表达不受阻碍。对方说的话,他们能秒懂,懂得越快,作出回答的用时越短。

 

Second, they are resourceful in the volume of expression available. The wordings seem automatically come into mind whenever the idea hits. And they are connected to memory by pronunciation instead of written form.

其次,他们可以用来表达的词汇也很丰富。每当大脑想到了什么,这些想法对应的外语表达词汇貌似都自动地闪进他们脑海。而且这些词汇是通过语音而非字形进行记忆的。

 

Finally, they are confident in their pronunciation. It doesn't necessarily mean the pronunciation is accurate or native without flaws, but it sounds not too weird for the native speaker to get it, so it won't make them too shy to speak out.

最后,他们对自己的外语发音很自信。这不一定意味着他们的发音准确地道得毫无瑕疵,但至少在母语人士听起来不会太奇怪以致难以听懂。这样他们就不会因为羞怯而不敢开口说外语了。

 

To make a progress in spoken language, we need to be familiar with the pronunciation, and the meaning corresponding based on how the words sound instead of the way they are written. Therefore, we could react quickly when we hear and get the words with the least struggling when speaking. How may practice echoing and shadowing help with the improvement?

要在口语上取得进步,我们要熟悉语言的发音和相关意思,要根据发音联想到意思,而不是根据字形。这样,当听到某个词的发音,我们就能迅速反应相应意思;口头交流的时候也能更轻松地引用这个词。回声跟读法和影子跟读法又是如何提升口语的?

 

Every time we watch a video in foreign language, especially those with titles, we read the meaning through the written language instead of understand it purely via pronunciation. And we've thought we get it, but actually we just don't focus on the connection between pronunciation and meaning good enough to make us well prepared to the future conversation with similar expression as the potential content. We may find it would be easier for us to realize what it means based on written form instead of reflecting its meaning the minute we hear it, since the connection between pronunciation and meaning hasn't been well developed. 

每当我们看一个外语视频,特别是视频带字幕的时候,我们其实更多地是在通过字幕而非纯粹根据发音了解意思。我们以为自己理解了,而事实上我们没有很好地注意发音与意思的联系,以至下一回同样的表达再度出现在谈话中时,我们措手不及,不能很好地根据发音反应对应的意思。我们会发现,我们没有建立起发音与意思的联系,所以我们会发现同一个词,根据字形比根据发音更容易辨别它的含义

 

Both echoing and shadowing help us build and strengthen the connection between what we actually hear and what it means. When we echo what we hear, we try to repeat and imitate the pronunciation and lessen the inconformity between what we hear and the way we pronounce. The more consistent it is between them, the less time it costs for us to reflect what's said and further what it means.

影子跟读法和回声跟读法都能帮助我们建立并强化发音与意思的联系。当我们进行回声跟读,我们是在模仿并重复所听到的声音,并使自己的发音趋近于它。当这两者越接近,听力理解所需的用时就越短。

 

Echoing also improves our muscle memory of the pronunciation and meaning of the words since we are practicing speaking up, which makes it relevant to our daily activity. Memory does serve better to the things we frequently apply than those we have ignored. We have paid little attention to the pronunciation when we watch videos without noticing the voice but the titles, or are too hurried for the meaning to notice how it is spoken. However, echoing brings us close to the pronunciation, which will be closer if we echo the video without titles and with scene where we could see how the commentator moves his mouth muscles.

回声跟读是我们练习发音的机会,使发音过程与我们自己的日常活动挂钩,这有助于增强对发音的肌肉记忆,进而提升对发音对应意思的理解能力。和被忽略的东西相比,越是被高频使用的东西,我们记得越牢。而看视频时我们一般只看字幕,或急于弄清意思而忽略发音。而回声跟读将让我们关注发音,如果进行跟读训练的视频不带字幕,且有发声者嘴部肌肉运动状态的镜头,那作用就更大了。

 

Pronunciation has something to do with oral movement, and it will be a guidance of how to pronounce by watching how it is pronounced by others. Reading the meaning from lips will bring you closer to the meaning, too. It means the connection among movement, pronunciation and meaning is established. You don't need to reflect the written form to know what it means when hear it, and you can simply move your lips for the certain vocabulary when the thought strikes you.

发音与口腔运动息息相关,看着别人是怎么运动口腔肌肉进行发音的,有助于引导我们正确发音。从运动的嘴唇判断意思,也能加快你理解发音的速率。当发音、肌肉运动与意思三者相互关联,你将可以通过纯粹的发音反应它对应的含义,无需通过联想字形才能得知意思,而当你想到某个点子,对应的外语表达也跃然脑海,脱口而出了。

 

When you are easy with echoing, it is worthwhile to take a further step to shadowing, which means repeating and imitating without pause. Unlike echoing where we finish hearing each sentence and hit a pause before we repeat, where we have more time to react and polish the way we speak, shadowing leaves us limited time to respond or polish since we are repeating almost simultaneously with the video.

当回声跟读已经不成问题了,可以挑战更高层次的影子跟读,即无间断无缝跟读。回声跟读时,我们听完每句话按下暂停键再模仿读音,模仿的时间更充足,更有利于雕琢每一个发音。与回声跟读不同,影子跟读几乎与视频发音同步进行,给你的反应时间或美化调整发音的时间是相对有限的。

 

Shadowing requires familiarity with the language, so that you are less likely to make mistake when imitating, and it means a higher level for reaction, which you cannot reach without former practice in echoing.

影子跟读训练要求我们熟悉语言,以减少犯错几率,这是对反应能力更高级的要求,没有前期的回声跟读训练,很难达到这种水平。

 

Imitation with consciousness is the shortest and most efficient path to mastering a skill, so it counts when you compare your pronunciation with the standard model and fill in the space of improvement if there is any. Make every move effective in boosting spoken language by echoing then shadowing.

有意识地模仿是提高一项技能最短最奏效的途径。对比你的发音与范本发音,找出差距,并填充进步的空间,将大有裨益。从回声跟读到影子跟读走起,一步一步地提升外语口语,让每一步都不白费。

 


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Every time we watch a video in foreign language, especially those with titles, we read the meaning through the written language instead of understand it purely via pronunciation.

 

I don't do that because my reading speed is too slow. 

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I can't read that much.

 

However, when I watch a Cantonese film, I can listen first and flick to the subtitles to correlate what was said to the word quite often without needing to pause. Frequently, it doesn't match.

 

I can't do that in Mandarin:

A) don't have enough vocabulary

B) if I know the vocabulary, I don't recognise it being spoken

C) I hear one word and it actually is another word.

D) can't get the logic of the sentence

 

 

When I watch something in Mandarin, I have to force myself to do the same as I do for Cantonese.  Having B) means I lose more of the sentence structure so I can't grasp the context. 

 

Particularly frustrating is C) - When I hear one thing and it's actually some other word.

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@abcdefg

I like your sense of straightforwardness. Admittedly, it takes a long time for us to do a good job in shadowing or even echoing. The progress is slow and it could be depressing sometimes. It is all about repeating and analyzing the pronunciation, digesting it good enough to build the connection between pronunciation and meaning. 

We just learn our mother tongue by echoing what the adults are saying. And our parents won't tell us that we should give up speaking just because we have made tons of mistakes and still have problem repeating something correctly after trying hard. So it is important to have this kind of patience and stamina in us 

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@Flickserve

Are you speaking Cantonese too? It sounds awesome

Actually we have two kinds of vocabulary volumes, one for spoken foreign language and the other for written language. The latter is usually larger than the former since we are always looking up the dictionary without paying attention to the pronunciation when we come across the alien word or read the translation instead of listening carefully.
Practice listening a lot is to activate all the vocabularies we claim that we know. The dilemma you mentioned as a-d would see the solution by repeating what you have heard, since every time you try it, find what's getting in the way and then shut it down, you are accumulating something useful for the future. Moreover, it's a challenge to our listening comfort zone, too

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