19 September 2021

SHADOW - Peer to peer shadowing : a pilot project for foreign language and culture learning

SHADOW is a pilot project for the learning foreign language and culture, developed in 4EU+ Alliance by the University of Milan, in collaboration with Sorbonne University (Paris), Charles University (Prague) and the University of Warsaw.

It’s based on an innovative pedagogical approach called ‘peer to peer shadowing’, which is directly inspired by a methodology used by anthropologists to observe foreign civilizations.

During the SHADOW project, each student from the pilot team of Milan – the ‘shadowees’ – was observed by a student from Paris, Prague or Warsaw – ‘the shadowers’ – during video-calls of about 1 hour. It allowed the shadowers to live a direct immersive linguistic experience and to observe daily life scenes while taking notes. Each session of shadowing was followed by a discussion of about 3 to 4 hours during which students were able to debrief together the information collected.

After two series of shadowing sessions (October to December 2020; January to April 2021), students were offered the opportunity to meet in person for the first time in Milan during 4 days in June 2021.

Their feedbacks and the improvement of their results were very positive and enthusiastic. Shadowers students from Paris, Prague and Warsaw enriched their vocabulary and their knowledge of the oral language practices and they opened their minds to otherness and to new situations. Shadowees from Milan, who are willing to become language teachers, were able to learn about innovative pedagogies and broaden their teaching experience. “We were passionate about the project because it gave us the opportunity to communicate throughout the year in the language that we are learning, but which we do not really have the opportunity to practice on a regular basis”, said a student from Sorbonne University.

The first results of the analysis of this method, based on the data collected during the project, will be presented, during a one-day seminar organized by the Italian Department of Sorbonne University on October 4th, 2021 (Centre Universitaire Malesherbes, room 125), by the teachers involved in the project, with the students of Sorbonne and the Unviersity of Milan.

The teachers of Sorbonne Université involved in other foreign languages are kindly invited to join this seminar, as well as teachers of our university involved in other 4EU+ projects dedicated to multilingualism. This one-day seminar will offer the opportunity to spread on a larger scale this innovative approach to foreign languages learning, and will contribute to build an interesting synergy among 4EU+ projects related to the development of multilingualism in the European Universities.

Participation to this seminar on October 4th, 2021 (Centre Malesherbes, room 125) is free but seats are limited. So please register to the event by email at : and

Programme of the seminar