The Karaoke Theory of Linguistics

Anyone seeking a truly immersive, authentic introduction to a unfamiliar local culture would be well-advised to follow the example set by my transatlantic companions and I shortly after arriving in Lisbon:

Sing karaoke.

After checking into our hotel and trudging up an out-of-service funicular track, we found a local bar, ordered a round of 1Â?€ bottles of Super Bock, and prepared for a night of karaoke in Portuguese.

Maybe it was the Super Bock, or maybe it was jet-lag, but when a classmate suggested that frequenting karaoke bars might be the best way to learn a foreign language, I was amazed at the sheer brilliance of the notion.

It’s widely held that immersion is the most effective way to learn a language, due to the complex barrage of audiovisual stimulus. While traveling abroad, it becomes obvious that to communicate effectively in a language, you don’t need to know how to conjugate every verb tense, you don’t even have to form proper sentences. If you can approximate ad-copy, you should be able to get by. With a long enough period of immersion, the subtleties of grammar and pronunciation will no doubt become second nature. This theory has driven the software package Rosetta Stone to worldwide popularity.

The program is not dissimilar from watching a round of karaoke. A sentence or phrase is displayed onscreen, and a voice reads the sentence aloud. You then pick the photograph the phrase best describes from four possible choices.

Expect more on this topic, as I continue my research, and begin drafting up a grant proposal for “Language Learning via Karaoke Abroad.”

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