Podcast intro:

Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar and this is episode number 284. And today we are going to practice shadowing with Wednesday Addams.

Hey everyone. Happy whatever day it is that you’re listening to. For me, it’s a Monday, so happy Monday! How are you doing? I hope your year has started great. I’m recording this at the beginning of 2023. And I wanted to do something fun for the beginning of the year. And there is nothing more fun than allowing yourself to tap into your inner actor.

I believe that every person has an actor inside of them, or an actress, even though, just so you know, you can say an actor for both male and female. I believe that every person has an inner actor that needs to be unleashed. I have seen that in my programs. I have seen that in my personal life and I definitely see that with my students, and now my listeners, that is you, my friend.

And we’re gonna be practicing a scene from the hit Netflix show Wednesday. It is so much fun, and shadowing is such an effective way to practice, especially when you are intentional about it, which is what I’m gonna teach you today. So not only you’re gonna unleash your inner actor, you’re also going to learn how to practice effectively using scenes and scripts, so it’s both fun and effective.

Now, I have a PDF that I have created for you, if you wanna work with a PDF with a script and my intonation notes and sound notes inside the script. It’s absolutely free. You can find it in the description of the podcast, so click on it, get it. You don’t have to, you can just listen to it, whatever makes you happy. Either way, I think it’s going to be so much fun, especially if you wanna practice your R and your intonation, and especially, especially if you like the show Wednesday. All right, so let’s listen to today’s episode.

Video transcript:

Have you ever wondered what is the most effective way to practice your intonation, rhythm, stress, and pronunciation? The answer is shadowing. But not just any type of shadowing, but intentional shadowing. And today I’m going to teach you how to practice intentional shadowing, and we’re gonna do it while shadowing Wednesday Addams from the hit Netflix show Wednesday.

“I already apologized. It’s over.”


But before we begin with some shadowing today, first let me introduce myself. If you are new to my channel, my name is Hadar, I’m a non-native speaker of English. And I am here to help you speak English with clarity, confidence, and freedom. And I’ve created multiple resources for you to practice English and learn English effectively. It’s totally free, and you can find it on my website at hadarshemesh.com. And you can also follow me here on YouTube, just hit subscribe, and on other social media platforms where I share valuable daily content.

OK, so let’s begin. What is shadowing? Shadowing is a practice method where you repeat the person that you’re hearing. You can also call it an imitation exercise or an echoing exercise cuz you are the echo of that person. Get it? The echo. So you’re just repeating what you hear. And it really is so helpful, especially when it comes to improving your pronunciation and improving prosody.

Prosody is the intonation, rhythm, stress; it’s how you put it all together when you speak. And sometimes learning the theory is not enough and you need to put it into practice. And by shadowing, not only that you’re practicing these elements, you also start developing a strong intuition for English. You start recognizing and feeling what’s right and what’s not right. And you start changing your internal rhythm because the rhythm of your first language is probably not the same of the rhythm of English. And imitation is such a great tool to start mastering that.

But here is the tricky part, and this is what I usually see my students do. When you practice shadowing, it’s really easy to fall into the pitfall of just repeating it automatically, repeating what you hear automatically, and not setting an intention as to what you’re trying to improve or gain out of this exercise.

And when you try to do everything, you end up focusing on nothing, and therefore learning nothing. But if you really wanna change, if you really wanna get quick results, you have to be intentional. So you have to focus on the things that you’d like to improve and change. And today I’m gonna show you how to do that exactly.

I’m going to do it while focusing on two different things. Let’s say you wanna practice shadowing to improve your Rs. You know how to pronounce the R, you have practiced it yet you feel like it’s hard for you to use it spontaneously when speaking. So today I’m gonna show you how shadowing is going to help you with that. And then we’re also going to practice shadowing. And the focus and the intention is going to be on intonation, and most specifically, operative words – the words that we stress to get our message across.

Now, by the way, to help you with this exercise, I’ve prepared for you a script that you can download for free. The script has some of the notes that I’m gonna be talking about today, whether it’s about the R or about intonation. So feel free to download it. Just click the link below and get it.

Now, the first step in a good shadowing exercise is to find a scene or a speech or a monologue that you like, and then the script. It’s really easy when you have the script in front of you. Now, I have already taken care of that. I’ve selected a scene for you, and as I told you, you can download the script.

The second thing is to monitor the speed. You can listen to it at regular speed, but you can also slow it down to 75% or 50% of the speed. There is nothing wrong with practicing shadowing with slower speed. Why? Because the focus is on intention and focusing on specific things and not just natural speech. Anyway, you won’t be imitating people in real life, right? So, for the sake of the practice, it’s okay if you slow down the speaker by a bit or even by a lot, and you can also speed it up afterwards.

So, I have a one-minute scene from Wednesday. And what I’m gonna do is spend the first half shadowing it, focusing on improving the R. And the second part is going to be focusing on intonation and stressed words. So, here’s how I would do it if I wanna focus on the R. If you have the script, I recommend that you mark all the words with R in them or just the Rs. You can just mark them in bold. It’s really helpful and it’s easy for you to focus on what matters. And as you read it, it will be a reminder that this is where you need to go back to the R that you’ve practiced.

Because what happens when we just repeat other people or just read a text through? It’s very easy for us to go back to our native R, or how we use to pronounce a certain sound, rather than the new sound. So you are very likely to think that you’re practicing it correctly, but in fact you’re going back to old habits, and then you’re not changing anything. So, take the text, mark the sound that you wanna work on – in our case, it’s gonna be the R – and let’s play the video.

“I already apologized. It’s over.”

“Over? Tonight was just the icing on the birthday cake you couldn’t even be bothered to cut. You’ll use anyone to get what you want, even if it means putting them in danger. We could’ve died tonight because of your stupid obsession.”

“But we didn’t. And now I’m one step closer to solving this case. That is what is important.”

“I’ve tried really, really, really hard to be your friend.”

Okay, first sentence. First, I’m gonna repeat it as is.

“I already apologized.”

I already apologized. Now, I wanna do it again, thinking about the R sounds. We have it in the word ‘already’. By the way, she pronounces it with the L – ‘aLready’, but know that you can drop the L, it’s also okay: ‘aready’, ‘aready’, if that’s easier for you, if you tend to confuse the Ls and the Rs. ‘aready’. But as you say the word ‘already’, make sure that you bring the tongue up, make sure it doesn’t touch anything, and that you round your lips.

So these three things: bring the tongue up, make sure the tip doesn’t touch anything. You can focus on bringing the sides of the tongue to the sides of the teeth for a nice, strong R, and round your lips – ‘ur’. And by the way, if the R is challenging for you, I have several videos teaching you how to pronounce the R that I’m going to link in the description below.

  1. So back to the script. ‘I already apologized’. So I’m saying it with the intention of pronouncing the R correctly. Rounding the lips, making sure the tip of the tongue doesn’t touch anything. Let’s do it together. Already. Already. Already.

“It’s over.”

It’s over. OK, so now there is an R at the end. Sometimes for some people it might be a little more tricky. Let’s make sure that you are getting to the R: over, over. Now, yes, there are a lot of other things here to notice. There is the OW as in ‘go’, and there is the reduction of the ‘it’s’. But I’m not gonna focus on that right now. But I really want you to only focus on the R. It’s okay if all the rest is not perfect. The purpose is to focus on what matters – in this case, the R.


‘Over?’ Again, with a different intonation pattern. ‘Over?’ Make sure you round your lips.

“Tonight was just the icing on the birthday cake you couldn’t even be bothered to cut.”

Okay, this is a little long, so let’s do it slowly. ‘Tonight was just the icing on the birthday cake you couldn’t even be bothered to cut’. So we have ‘birthday’, that’s a tricky one. Birthday. ‘Tonight was just the icing on the birthday cake.’ Birthday cake. Birthday cake. Let’s do it again. ‘Tonight was just the icing on the birthday cake you couldn’t even be bothered to cut.’

So we have another R in the word ‘bothered’, ‘bothered’. And this one has a TH too. So you wanna make sure you say that a few times before you put it in the whole sentence. ‘bothered’. AA as in ‘father’. Bothered to cut. Bothered to cut. The R’s a little longer here. Bothered to cut. And get to the D at the end. Bothered to cut. Let’s do it together again. Let’s listen to the sentence.

“Tonight was just the icing on the birthday cake.”

Tonight was just the icing on the birthday cake.

“You couldn’t even be bothered to cut.”

‘You couldn’t even be bothered to cut’. And again, we’re only focusing on the R.

“You’ll use anyone to get what you want, even if it means putting them in danger.”

‘You’ll use anyone to get what you want, even if it means putting them in danger’. So we only have an R at the end, so I would maybe not wanna waste this sentence by only thinking of the R at the end. And maybe I would focus on the rhythm here a little bit. And as I get to the end, I’ll bring my attention back to the R. Let’s listen to it again.

“You’ll use anyone to get what you want.”

‘You will use anyone to get what you want’. Right? So we have that nice rhythm here. ‘You will use anyone to get what you want’.

“even if it means putting them in danger.”

‘even if it means putting them in danger’. Okay? Bringing back my attention to the R. ‘even if it means’ – a nice rhythm, ‘putting them in danger’. Bring the tongue up, round your lips.

“We could’ve died tonight because of your stupid obsession.”

‘We could’ve died tonight because of your stupid obsession’. So we have ‘your’, ‘your’, ‘your’. So we’re gonna say the whole sentence, even though there is only one word with the R, and we will get ready to say the R.

“We could’ve died tonight.”

‘we could’ve’, ‘we could’ve’, ‘we could’ve’. Listen to the reduction here. ‘We could’ve died tonight’.

“because of your stupid obsession.”

Because of y’r, because of y’r, because of y’r – reduction. So, here we also have the R. Because of y’r, y’r, y’r. We make sure that we bring the tongue up, it’s short. And then ‘stupid obsession’. ‘stupid obsession’.

“But we didn’t”.

‘But we didn’t’.

“And now I’m one step closer to solving this case”.

‘And now I’m one step closer to solving this case’. So we have ‘closer’. Very much like ‘over’, the R is at the end. We wanna make sure that we hit it. ‘And now I’m one step closer to solving this case’. closer. closer. closer. And if you feel like your R is not accurate, just say it again a few times and then in context again.

“That is what is important.”

‘That is what is important’. ‘That is what is important’. So, here we have the R in ‘important’. ‘impor’, ‘por’, ‘por’. Now as you’re saying the sentence, you’re probably noticing other things like the T, in ‘important’. How do I do that? And maybe the T in ‘that is’, ‘what is’. You will be noticing different things. So after you make sure that you get that R right, of course, focus on other things. ‘That is what is’. Okay, flap T, nice. ‘That is what is’.

Now, let’s see how she pronounces the word ‘important’. “Important”. ‘Important’, ‘important’. She starts with an ‘i’ sound, then ‘m’ – ‘im’. And then ‘por’ – we definitely wanna pay attention to the R here. ‘por’. And then there isn’t really a T there, it’s a glottal stop. And then she releases the T. It’s not a held T when she pronounces it, it’s just ‘t’ – ‘important’, ‘important’. There are several other ways to pronounce this word, and I’m going to link to a video where I teach that, in the description.

The last sentence for the part where we practice the R. Listen.

“I’ve tried really, really, really hard to be your friend.”

Lots of Rs here. Okay. ‘I’ve tried’. Pay attention to the R. ‘really, really, really hard’. Now, she really emphasizes those words, right? And as she does, you can even hear vibrations when she pronounces the R.

“really, really, really”.

That happens when you push the air with a lot of strength. And the tip of the tongue is almost touching the upper pallet, but not. ‘really’. Now, usually you don’t hear it. You actually don’t want the tongue to be too close to the upper palate. But it’s interesting to hear that, and that’s because how she’s using those consonants to stress what she’s trying to stress or, you know, as a result of her being angry.

So, back to the sentence: ‘I’ve tried really, really, really hard’. Round your lips for all these three words and the word ‘hard’. And then: ‘to be your friend’. Another R, here we have a cluster – ‘friend’, ‘to be your friend’.

All right, so in the next part of the scene, I’m going to show you how I focus on intonation, and in that more specifically, stressed words. I call them operative words, the words that drive the meaning forward. Those words are usually longer, louder, and higher in pitch. I have a lot of videos explaining the theory behind it and showing you a lot of different examples. So I’m going to link to those videos below, but now I’m going to show you how to do that when shadowing. So let’s continue with a scene. Now, shifting the focus.

“Always put myself out there.”

‘Always put myself out there’. So I feel like ‘out there’ is more stressed. How do I know that? Those words are longer, and she raises her pitch: ‘out there’, ‘out there’. ‘Always put myself out there’. Now, if you have a tendency of stressing too many words or keeping everything on the same note, being more monotone, this is a really good exercise for you. Because you might be imitating and shadowing and still keeping your own internal patterns rather than actually shadowing what you’re hearing. The brain can play tricks on you. So this helps you focus on paying attention to when she raises the pitch, and doing it yourself. Let’s continue.

“thought of your feelings.”

‘thought of your feelings’. ‘feelings’. She raises the pitch on ‘feelings’. That word is more stressed. How do we know? Whatever comes before that is totally reduced: ‘v-y’r. ‘thought’v-y’r feelings’. So we have ‘thought’ and ‘feelings’. ‘thought of your feelings’.

“told people, I know she gives off serial killer vibes.”

‘told people, I know she gives off serial killer vibes’. So, ‘serial killer’, ‘serial killer’, that is stressed. ‘told people’ – that is stressed too. ‘I know she gives off’ – that’s kind of reduced because she goes a little faster and reduces things inside. ‘I know she gives off serial killer vibes’ – stress, stress, stress.

Now, let’s take a moment here as we’re continuing this practice. Notice that when we’re doing that, you’re only focused on hearing those things, right? You’re only focused on pitch and rhythm and reductions, and you’re not thinking about the R, right? And this is just to show you how important it is to be focused on specific things and to be intentional. Because if I were like, “Let’s practice the R and let’s practice intonation and let’s practice everything I know about English”, it would make it really hard for me to succeed. So when I focus just on melody or just on rhythm or stress words, if I wanna focus on both, it’s okay that I don’t focus on the other things. Let’s continue.

“but she’s really just shy”.

‘but she’s really just shy’. ‘shy’.

“I never asked you to do that.”

‘I never asked you to do that’. asked, do. ‘I never asked you to do that’.

“You didn’t have to because that’s what friends do.”

‘You didn’t have to because that’s what friends do’. have to, that’s, friends, do. Have you noticed those? These are the words that are stressed.

“You didn’t have to because that’s what friends do.”

By the way, in this script, those words are going to be bigger, so it shows you the difference between the words that are stressed versus the words that are less stressed. You can download it for free in the description.

“They don’t have to be asked”.

‘They don’t have to be asked’. have, to be asked. ‘They don’t have to be asked’. And ‘don’t’ is someone stressed as well. So I’m gonna say that again, focusing on those stressed words. ‘They don’t have to be asked’.

“And the fact that you don’t know that says everything.”

‘And the fact that you don’t know that says everything’. What do you think the stressed words are in this sentence? I’m gonna let you figure that out. And of course, the answers are in the PDF that you can download.

All right, so to conclude, shadowing is a technique where you repeat a person speaking, ideally, when you have the text in front of you. And to make that practice effective, you wanna be intentional. And by being intentional, that means that you’re focusing on one, two, maybe three things as you’re shadowing. So you only focus on that. And then you can also read the same text focusing on other things, and then gradually start putting everything together.

And by the way, you know how I learned that? When I was in acting school, I had to work on my accent, I had to work on my acting, I had to work on a specific dialect. And I noticed that if I just tried to read through the text again and again and again, it would be really hard for me to actually get it right. So every time I would read it once I would focus just on pronunciation. Then another time just on the TH as that used to be a challenge for me. And then another time I would repeat it, just focusing on intonation and rhythm. And then once more, focusing on the intention and the objective of the character.

Now, the work that I have done prior would start showing up as I started adding more layers to my practice. So, I have done that when working on texts as an actress. And I actually think that a lot of this work is extremely valuable when practicing English. Because at the end of the day, when learning pronunciation, what you really do is you are assuming someone else’s characteristics of speech – intonation, rhythm, stress, pronunciation – and you’re making them your own. So this is why all the exercises that I bring to you from my experience as an actress are, I believe, very, very valuable for the work that you do.

All right, that’s it. If you enjoyed this episode, consider subscribing to my channel and sharing it with your friends and colleagues and students. And that’s it. Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day. And I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.