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The Mimic Method review
The Mimic Method, developed by Idahosa Ness, is a language learning resource that (at least I think) is way underrated in the online language learning world. It’s totally unlike any other resource, and fills such a huge need that I’m incredibly surprised I don’t see more people talking about it!
Struggling to correctly pronounce the words you’re learning? Can’t understand the words you’re hearing, even if they’re at your level? The Mimic Method’s got you covered.
In this Mimic Method review, let’s talk about what makes The Mimic Method so unique and so important for language learners, how to use it appropriately, and how best to build off of it.
What is The Mimic Method?
In a nutshell, The Mimic Method teaches language learners, from a phonetic point of view, how the sounds of different foreign languages are similar and/or different from the sounds of English.
How does this help us understand the language we’re learning? I’ll get to that in a sec. At this time, The Mimic Method supports:
- Brazilian Portuguese
- European Portuguese
- Hyper-Phonic & Intonation
With that last option, you can apply this method to any language you desire!
You’ll do this by learning how to hear, see, and feel the sounds of the language you’re learning. Let’s go through one of these masterclasses to see how this works.
Thanks to a Black Friday sale from a few years back, I’ve had access to this method throughout my Spanish learning journey. Thing is, I’ve been studying Spanish for so long and most of the sounds are so similar, that the sounds were never too difficult.
French, though? Well, not only do I have a lot less experience with it, but the sounds of French are so unique! What a great way to take advantage of The Mimic Method, right? I mean, nobody else teaches you how to make the sounds of a language.
Here’s the screen you get when you first go to the French masterclass.
It ain’t pretty (well, none of it is, to be totally honest), but it’s real simple and real, real effective.
The first lecture, the course introduction, is the same across all languages. Here Idahosa explains everything you need to know about his course so you can set your mindset and expectations from the get-go.
I want to point out that he specifically states that the course takes 2-4 weeks, depending on the individual. That isn’t to say there’s necessarily 2-4 weeks’ worth of content, ’cause there isn’t. You can get through everything in an afternoon.
The Mimic Method requires a lot of independent work – basically, it’ll teach you how to do the thing, but it’s up to you to do the thing for yourself.
Once you get past the initial lecture teaching you what to expect, the ideology behind it, and Idahosa’s background, let’s get to the sounds of French!
These webinars (which are just recordings of live webinars Idahosa has done in the past) are based off of visualizations like this one. For vowels, he plots the points of the “elemental sounds” in a language, and compares them to the elemental sounds of English, so you can practice creating the same sounds that native speakers make.
First he plots where the English sounds that we’re familiar with are, so we can get awareness of what our mouths are doing, how they’re creating different sounds. Then he shows us how these foreign sounds relate to the ones we know – all you gotta do is shift your mouth over a bit!
Some of them are easier, some are more difficult. He makes the sounds himself, physically shows you how the movements change with tongue position, lip roundedness, and nasality (which likely change depending on the language), and is honestly really, really clear.
These webinars are incredibly informative and straight to the point. There’s not a whole lot of fluff involved outside of that first lecture. Idahosa even makes it crystal clear that because you’re learning to make new sounds, you’re forming new muscles. Expect your mouth to get sore!
After the webinars, you get homework!
This homework is a PDF file that you can print if it helps you out, or you can just take a look on your computer. It’s full of questions and exercises that are really helpful not because they repeat the same content all over again, but because they utilize the information you just learned.
In the above image you see the concepts you’re supposed to understand for everything to make sense. When you scroll down, you get exercises to practice awareness of the movements you just learned in a fun way.
Like, you’re not just making French words, you’re making fun English words and paying attention to the movements of your mouth.
If you need some review, you can always either go back to the webinar, or go under “assets” and scroll through the presentation itself. It’s all right there for ya!
Once you conquer awareness of the sounds, you practice drilling the sounds. Just like the homework, these drills are entirely self-paced.
Come back and practice these drills whenever it works for you so you can make authentic French sounds without even thinking about it.
These are separated into the categories taught in the initial webinar, so it’s pretty easy to walk yourself through them and not have to actually figure anything out.
These drills are uploaded on Soundcloud, and are very, very clear!
These word lists are…well…lists of words! They’re mostly simple French words that use the sound you’re supposed to be drilling.
My ONE complaint here is I wish that the list of words was written out here: not only am I a visual learner so making these sounds without seeing them feels like I’m shooting in the dark, but it’s freakin’ French! Sounds and letters don’t always correlate!
It is worth noting that you can find the words written out under the Drills section (which we’ll take a look at), but this is an inconvenience to me.
The rest of the lectures follow this formula, as well:
- explaining these elemental sounds and how to make them by comparing them to your native sounds,
- practicing and understanding the concepts of this approach and the sounds you’re learning,
- drills, drills, drills!
Once you’ve gone through these lectures and understand all the sounds, you’ll spend most of your time in the Drills section.
As you can see, The Mimic Method takes you all the way down to the very basic phonetic sounds of the language.
Click on any of the sounds you want to practice, and you’ll get a very simple, but also very detailed, review of them. These pages drill on every aspect of the sounds that are discussed in the webinars, so they’re basically like the best notes you could ever make!
Looking for another way to drill these sounds? Worry not, friend, ’cause the Mimic Method has a few more tricks!
The first trick, the Checklist, lists out all the elemental sounds (still organized by the same categories), so you can check off which sounds you’re struggling with. This can help you narrow down what drills you actually need to be doing!
Next up is the 500 Frequency Words List, which gives you the 500 most commonly-used words in the language, with
- the elemental sounds that make up the words, separated by syllable
- links to every word’s Forvo page, so you have yet another audio sample of correct pronunciation
Lastly, but certainly not leastly, we have the IPA Flash Deck. The IPA, or International Phonetic Alphabet, is the core of all the sounds and the system that The Mimic Method is based off of. And no, it’s not a beer (not in this context, at least).
This flash deck is actually a simple Anki deck with audio recordings supplied for each symbol, so you can learn what all of these symbols actually mean and make all this that much more intuitive!
Once you conquer all of that (see why he says 2-4 weeks? It’s a lot), we have one last lecture: From Sounds to Syllables. Here we find out how to take these elemental sounds that we know and love, build off of them, and create words and phrases.
Not only do we learn the concept of effectively building off these sounds, but we also learn how to actually do it. First we practice with the resources supplied, then we can do it with literally any audio sample we want.
In this Mimic Method review, we get a lot of resources. I love how language learners get the opportunity to approach this from whichever method works for them. It’s pretty one-size-fits-all!
I do want to talk about the next steps of this, how to build off of them. In that final lecture, we learn all about how to use transcription to continue to train our ears to recognize these elemental sounds, and we get a recommendation to how to do that.
While I’m in no way saying that way doesn’t work, I also have more options!
The other side of the coin, actually pronouncing the words correctly, can be practiced using Speechling! Speechling is not so much conversation practice (though it can absolutely be used to promote fluency) as much as it is pronunciation practice.
Mimic Method review: who it’s for
If this Mimic Method review teaches you anything, I hope it’s that the Mimic Method is for…pretty much anybody! Even if you’re not learning one of the languages available, the technique itself is something that can be replicated in a variety of different ways.
Suffice to say, I hope this Mimic Method review motivates you to at least check it out. Click here to try the Mimic Method for yourself!