When I first heard of Earworms, I was quite intrigued mostly because I know what it’s like to get a song stuck in my head. Compared to annoying lyrics, getting a new language stuck in there sounds pretty appealing.
I was also aware of the memory association approach that Earworms have tried to use here. However, when I tried it on, I was thoroughly disappointed.
Since I couldn’t get hooked on any track even after hearing it multiple times, I didn’t find it to be very useful. On the flip side, some people who do find this type of music catchy can try it, and perhaps it’ll work for them.
Otherwise, it may be suitable for travelers or others who have given up on other methods.
For this review, I tried Rapid French, Volume 3. While my experience relates strictly to this one volume, you’ll find it to be an accurate representation of Earworms, regardless of the language or volume you’re studying.
Earworms is clearly not meant for serious students
As there is hardly anything to the resource, there isn’t much of a structure to it either.
To date, the most volumes any language has is three. Each of these volumes will contain 10 audio tracks which supposedly have language lessons with “catchy” music playing in the background.
Each of the lessons extends for about 6 minutes or more. Which means even if you completed three volumes, that there is a total of just above 3 hours of content that you will be signing up for.
If only a language could be learnt in 3 hours.
This alone should make it fairly obvious that it’s not meant for serious students, or at the very least, not meant for anyone beyond the initial beginner stage.
Along with the audio tracks, you usually get a PDF (or a printed booklet if you choose the CD) of the phrases that are being “sung” in the tracks. You could use these for reference while you listen to these files.
Unfortunately, there is hardly any order or depth to the lessons. They teach you a few common phrases that you may need as a tourist when you are visiting the country.
Only and only from that perspective does it do an okay job.
You have to hope the songs get stuck in your head
To get started, you just have to go to their website and create an account. The website is full of information on how Earworms works and how useful it is.
To get started using it, you need to navigate to the “Earworms Store”. Once you do this, you can purchase the MP3 files or the CDs as per your liking. After payment, you will be able to access the MP3 files from the app or be able to download it straight into the computer.
If you chose the CDs option, then they will be shipped to you within a few days depending on your location.
There are absolutely no customization options available.
The content is the same for all and all you can do is listen to the tracks and hope they get stuck in your head.
Otherwise, there are no preferences, profiles, benchmark tests or other formalities that you need to complete before you get started with the resource. From one perspective, this is a hassle-free solution.
However, on the other hand, it goes to show how limited their content is.
There is a lack of content and structure to the lessons
Like the course structure, there is absolutely no lesson structure either. There are several audio tracks that are accompanied by some written text in the form of a PDF. The PDF is a list of phrases that are going to be taught in that particular track.
Earworms tries to use the fact that some tunes are extremely catchy and then they blend in that tune with their lessons. At the same time, the narrators are made to speak in rhythm with the song, so the lessons get stuck in our heads.
Unfortunately, the retro sensual music that they have gone with is anything but catchy, at least in my opinion. Moreover, the way the narrators are forced to speak in rhythm just sounds extremely weird.
Each lesson is a couple of phrases whose French translation is being “sung”.
The narrator literally asks, “How would one say this…?”, to which the other narrator replies in French with the translation. Sometimes, they go through the various conjugations that exist for the verbs, or the differences in articles for various words, but they don’t dive deep into the grammar bits.
They might actually mention something of importance in passing in the song, but at that point, your brain is still trying to understand why the speaker is talking in such an awkward way.
Fortunately, they repeat and breakdown the phrases multiple times.
This helps you learn the phrase easily. However, this is similar to rote learning as you don’t learn to form sentences on your own but rather you learn various varieties of the sentence by heart. Sadly, there is no time between the recordings for you to repeat the phrase and develop your speaking skills. This again hinders your learning.
Similarly, there is no means of assessment and thus you can’t check if you understood anything or not. If there is any consolation, then it is in the fact that you can use the booklet (offline or online) to understand the written French language better.
But then again, apart from those few phrases, there is not much to learn from the material.
Plans and Prices
While the total number of volumes varies slightly by language, the price remains constant.
Each of these volumes contains 10 tracks of about 6 minutes each. You can get these volumes either in the form of a CD or an MP3 download. There are other options such as downloading audio books or the paid apps on both Apple and Android devices, as well as via Audible.
You can get each of the volumes as an MP3 download for just £8.32. The CDs will cost a bit more, £14.99. However, you can get the first and second volume in a bundle pack for £14.16 (MP3) or £24.99 (CDs). There is no such pack available for the third volume.
If you were to purchase via the app a single volume would cost £9.99.
There is also an option of a trial version on the website where it plays just one of its tracks for you, so you can get a feel of the whole thing.
The concept that earworms has chosen to pursue is great in theory but it just doesn’t work well here. It’s hard to say if that’s because this is an ineffectual way to learn a language or if it was poorly executed.
There just isn’t enough content included to make much of a difference. You’d almost certainly be better of using a phrasebook, duolingo, or just about anything else.
However, going through one of the volumes, I realized it could potentially be okay for revision or for tourism purposes (if you put in a bit of extra work into it).
Otherwise, it could be good for people who are into the different kinds of music that they have used in their tracks or if they have given up all hopes of learning from conventional resources.
This post was originally written by Abheek – an amazing freelance writer and experienced language learner.
It was edited by me – Nick Dahlhoff.
I’m the creator of All Language Resources. I’m not a polyglot who speaks 20 languages, in fact, I’m currently struggling with Mandarin. I’m not here to teach you how to learn a language – countless people are more qualified to do that than me. But, I have tried out an insane number of language learning resources. I want this site to remain the most comprehensive and least biased place to figure out which courses, podcasts, apps, websites, etc. are worth studying with. To learn more about myself, the site, or our reviewing process, check out the about page.