Could Karaoke Be The Secret to Smarter Students?

Singing along to music videos is helping students in Hawaii succeed. 
Singing helps kids learn in Hawaii. (Photo: Ryan McVay)
Jan 11, 2013
Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.

There are those who love karaoke, and those who don't exactly look forward to their friend's latest rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart."

A school in Hawaii, however, is giving all of us a reason to fall in love with this sing-along tool.

Through a karaoke-style subtitling intervention (SLS), educators at a high school in Kaneohe, Hawaii, are helping kids with learning disabilities improve their reading skills.

More: Special Education in the U.S. Has a Long Way to Go—Here’s What Schools Can Do About It

Nearly 200 special education kids took part in the initial study. The kids were divided into two classrooms—one with SLS intervention and one without. Over 12 weeks, teachers in the karaoke classroom used SLS to encourage kids to read and to increase reading proficiency.

According to the study, here is the method used:

Students engaged in SLS viewing/response activities for 15–20 minutes per day at the beginning of class, during which they completed cloze-style worksheets and responded to comprehension questions while viewing the SLS recordings. During the last six weeks of the intervention, they also spent a minimum of 90 minutes per week producing subtitled multimedia files.

They found that students who sung karaoke to learn scored "significantly higher" in reading comprehension than students in the "business as usual" special education class.

In the U.S., just 38 percent of students with disabilities are proficient in math and reading. While this study took place at one school, it's interesting to see such a common tool help kids succeed.

Do you think more schools should use karaoke as a learning tool? Share your thoughts in comments.

Jenny is the Education Editor at TakePart. She has been writing for TakePart since 2009 and previously worked in film and television development. She has taught English in Vietnam and tutors homeless children in Los Angeles. Email Jenny | @jennyinglee |

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