Shadowing

C'est quoi ?

In a nutshell, shadowing is the technique of imitating native speakers.

À quoi sert-il ?

What’s the goal of shadowing?

There are 2 main goals of shadowing:

  1. To improve your pronunciation and intonation (the rhythm of your speech) to more closely mimic that of native speakers.
  2. To improve your comprehension of spoken French.

Spoken French can be vastly different to written French so in order to both speak like the natives do in everyday conversations, and understand them, learners should get used to separating the written language from the spoken language. Shadowing encourages this by getting you to repeat the sounds you hear rather than pronouncing how you think the written words should be said.

For example, « ne serait peut-être pas » might be pronounced « ne s’rep tet pa ».

While that more phonetic spelling might look daunting and lead learners to retreat to the “safety” of the written form they recognise, it’s getting comfortable with saying this second form that gets them closer to native-like French.

Comment marche-t-il ?

How does it work?

There are 3 main ways to practise shadowing:

  1. By yourself. Watch TV shows, films, listen to podcasts, radio shows, have conversations with another person, songs… You shadow the people you listen to while you’re doing the activity.
  2. With other community members by creating or joining a shadowing event in Discord.
  3. In a class led by a teacher. Watch a replay below of a CFSC Shadowing class hosted by Marion. (These classes are exclusively available to Franco-FANATIQUE level members.)

Devrais-je le pratiquer ?

Should I practise it?

For most people in the CFSC, the answer is oui !

Everyone can always improve their flow, including me!

I love mimicking natives. A word or an expression here and there until I can feel myself getting closer to how they say it. Training my mouth muscles.

The best way to consistently improve is when you make the activity a habit. That way, it happens automatically.

If you can make shadowing natives a habit, then you will naturally improve your flow, and by exposing yourself to more and more spoken French, your comprehension will improve too.

If you’re someone for whom imitating natives as a way of training your speaking is entirely new, then we recommend you watch a replay of a formal shadowing class to see how it works. It’s intense and quite tiring at first.

However, you will see that it’s something you can do as part of other activities. 5 seconds here, 20 seconds there.

Remember, your first 2 goals in ANY French interaction are:

  1. Understand enough of the other person to be able to accurately respond.
  2. Make yourself understood well enough for the other person to respond.

If you can more or less do that most times, even if it’s bumpy and slow, then try adding in shadowing to your existing activities.

If you’re still at the start of your time with us and you’re still figuring out how to fit French consistently into your day, then perhaps shadowing need not be the first priority.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you how you fill your French time. The more mindful you are of what you need to reach your current goal, the easier it will be to choose your activities.

Start simple, and build up.

Comment participer à un cours de shadowing?

How to join a shadowing class?

Keep an eye on the events calendar over on the Speak home page for when we publish new classes. We’ll also send out email invitations and reminders about all upcoming events that have spots free.

Otherwise, why not create or join a shadowing session hosted by another community member? Find a video or audio source you like and practise with specific chunks. Head to Discord and create an event. Then, share it in the dedicated #shadowing channel in a new post to let people know it’s happening. Here’s a reminder of how.

Le shadowing, c'est super difficile. Que faire ?

Shadowing is super difficult. What to do?

When you’re not used to focusing on pronunciation, flow, and comprehension in this way, it can be exhausting and intimidating.

For this reason, having the right mindset and expectations is absolutely key. This will allow you to find it fun despite the fatigue, and see progress instead of all the parts you didn’t complete during a session.

I gave my detailed thoughts in a long message over on this post inside Discord following the first live session with Marion. I highly recommend you read it, as well as the messages from other CFSC members. It is an enriching and reassuring discussion.

I cover:

  • The best mindset to have for shadowing.
  • How to measure your progress with it.
  • Managing expectations.

With practice, as with everything, shadowing gets easier. Let the communtiy support you and give you strength.

There is a dedicated channel handily named #shadowing in Discord which contains not only the aforementioned post but all posts for further discussion between members on shadowing sessions.

You're not alone when you're in the CFSC.
You're not alone when you're in the CFSC.

S'amuser et ne pas te prendre trop au sérieux. C'est la clé 🗝

Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. That’s the key.

Laughter is the best medicine, right?

If you can remind yourself that the goal is progrès, pas perfection, that you’ll make mistakes, and that if it’s uncomfortable it’s probably worth doing, then you’re doing it right 👍.

One way we have made shadowing fun is by laughing at the phonetic spellings we invent during classes.

Jeff's joke about shadowing
Jeff could see the funny side, despite a difficult class.
Alex jokes with phonetic spelling
Even this is shadowing!
Tagging Mentors in Discord
In any channel, type @ followed by the word Mentors. Select it from the list that appears. Finally, write and send your message.

You said that a lot of people use a translation app, and I was wondering, is that recommended to do that so I can learn words or is it better to do as much as I can from the top of my head? (37:06)

  • Watch the video at the timestamp (37:06) for the full answer.

Are your conversation sessions at set times every week or varied? (42:35)

  • Pretty consistent but subject to slight changes every time.

What's the best way to type accents on a Windows English keyboard? Best configuration? (43:40)

  • Watch the video at the timestamp (43:40) for the full answer.

What do you think is the best translator? (50:53)

  • Watch the video at the timestamp (50:53) for the full discussion.

Are you YouTube videos listed on your website? How can I see them all? (54:50)

  • At the moment the best way is to go to my channel’s home page, click on the Videos tab, and order by Most Popular or Most Recent.
  • New videos get added to Discord and are released early to the CFSC.

How do conversation classes work? (58:10)

  • Announcing them, reserving a spot, how many you get, reminders, notes, replay. Full answer at the timestamp above.

Do you have a recommendation on the amount of hours to spend on French and also what to focus on apart from the class you are getting? Because probably I could also work on vocabulary and maybe some other things. What do you recommend? (1:00:35)

  • Watch the video at the timestamp (1:00:35) for the full answer.

Is there an age limit? How old is your youngest student on CFSC? (1:04:53)

  • I think the youngest person is around 30.

How are grammar and writing practice integrated into the program? Obviously it's firstly a speaking program. (1:05:45)

  • Watch the video at the timestamp (1:05:45) for the full answer.

How to get support. (1:15:51)

  • Leave a question in cfsc-feedback over in Discord.
  • If it’s personal do private message me but a lot of time answers are useful for the group.

Could there be a section in Discord on podcasts? (1:18:51)

  • Yes. I will create one!

Jim mentioned George. Who is George?. (1:21:55)

  • One of our amazing founding members.
  • Very active in Discord, always stretching himself to write and have fun sharing with others.

The thread icon against a text channel icon / What are threads? / How to create threads in a channel? (Video timestamp 41:53)

  • Threads are a way to continue a discussion in a text channel away from the main conversation.
  • Create one by hovering over a message and clicking the # icon.
  • Watch the replay from around 42:35.
  • Tutorial exists in the Discord Tutorials section.

What will the format be of the conversation classes during and after the 3 months? (47:39)

  • Conv classes won’t change format because they don’t correspond to specific parts of the course curriculum. They are every 2 weeks. and you should us them to build a routine involving speaking.
  • Discord will show different areas dedicated to the course material as access opens up.

How should I use DeepL/other translators in conjunction with Discord? (52:45)

  • Using a translator doesn’t mean copy/pasting the text into what you’re writing.
  • Use it to keep your mind thinking about French vocab and structure and then manually rewrite what you find into your message/post.
  • Heather gave tips 58:52 to 1:00:13 in the video.

How to get support? (1:06:47)

  • Primarily, create a pot in the #cfsc-feedback-channel
  • For the course modules there will be a dedicated questions channel.
  • My hours at 9am to 6pm CET. You’ll get a reply within 24 hours.

How big are the conversation class groups? What is recorded? (1:13:37)

  • Max 8 people.
  • New agenda for each class, sent 24 hours before a session.
  • Sessions have people split into groups of 2 or 3.
  • Only parts where I am present are recorded by Zoom.
  • Could potentially allow students to record too.

How to get to the class notes? (1:16:38)

  • An email is sent after your class when the notes are ready.
  • Or go to the bototm or your Dashboard and click the link Résumés des cours.

How to view the class replay? (1:21:37)

  • Click the link (now a more visible button) on the webpage containing the notes.

Discord can be overwhelming

  • There’s no rush to get used to it. Take your time. Watch the tutorials. Read as much as you like to get a feel for it.
  • Channels with new messages are highlighted in white.
  • A red badge is added when it needs more attention.