When Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow” first came out, the biggest question about it was: “What in the hell is he talking about?” Eddie Vedder’s muttered lyrics barely seemed to be in English. And yet the song is now apparently helping a whole school full of Ethiopian kids learn the language. Alternative Nation has posted a short piece from Brett Buchanan, a Peace Corps member who’s teaching English at a small town in Northern Ethiopia. He writes about how he’s been using ’90s rock, and “Even Flow” in particular, as a teaching tool:
I am a huge fan of Pearl Jam, and 90’s rock in general (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Rage Against The Machine, etc). After class one day I jokingly wrote the chorus line to Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow” on the chalkboard. I thought it would be funny to have the kids try and learn it. They laughed their way through it. The next day, they demanded to try it again. After a while we went through most of the song day by day as a motivational tool. At first it was all just a joke, but after awhile, the students began to really build confidence through learning the song. Kids that were shy and quiet all year were suddenly more confident speaking up in class and loved participating in the song.
Here’s the video that Buchanan made of all those kids singing it. There’s also a lot of backflipping:
Buchanan writes that he’s also been using the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under The Bridge” and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and that he might make another video with a Foo Fighters song.