Watch these Ethiopian children learn English by singing Pearl Jam

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Matt Westerberg is currently teaching 9th grade English to Ethiopian children as part of the Peace Corps. In an essay for Alternative Nation, Westerberg, a 1990s alternative fan, tells a story about writing the chorus to Pearl Jam's 1991 mush-mouthed rocker "Even Flow" on the chalkboard and how the song became a transformative and useful learning tool for the kids.

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.

Westerberg says that pretty soon the students soon wanted to learn more songs so he "tried a bit of Red Hot Chili Peppers “Under the Bridge” and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” He'd let the kids practice only if they finished their work with time to spare before their next class.

Westerberg says that he plans on using the technique in the upcoming school year as well, but will be switching it up to honor a different grunge emissary.


"My friends and I here are huge Dave Grohl fans, and we plan on using a Foo Fighters song as the next school project to practice English. Probably will finish and post it on Dave Grohl’s birthday this January."

The Foo Fighters are all right and good (got to think he's going "Everlong" here), but may we suggest something by The Replacements, led by a fellow Westerberg?

David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on—hop on. Got a tip? Email him:

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