In Praise of iPods

Some Vilnius commuters now have a new aggravation to look forward to. A new project, called Learning By Moving, subjects commuters already unpleasantly (and perilously) crammed into trolleybuses 2 and 19 to an inescapable repeating voice recording whose goal is to teach them simple phrases in English, Polish and Lithuanian.

Two minute recordings in each language play incessantly and there is a corresponding text posted so that passengers can follow along, repeating the phrases out loud. While this might be a fun exercise for you and your drunk friends late night in an empty bus, it's hard to imagine a shuttle full of sleepy-eyed commuters singing Polish phrases in chorus as some cheery-voiced Brit endlessly eggs them on through the loudspeaker for the duration of their journey. Nonetheless, Learning By Moving seems to be having some positive effects: people are learning the phrases (which include, "Excuse me, which bus should I take to the hospital?") and seem to enjoy the company late at night. Though the violent crime rate amongst city busdrivers seems poised to skyrocket, it's an acceptable consequence, we suppose, for "making people realize the importance of language through the medium of public transport."

If the project continues to be a success, it may soon spread to all Vilnius buses and on to other European cities like Riga and Tallinn. The EU-endorsed experiment will certainly have plenty of time to garner results and reactions; the nightmarish project is scheduled to carry on in Vilnius for the next 3 years, guaranteeing that soon anyone asked how to get to the hospital in Lithuanian will be able to swiftly ask right back in Polish.


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