The Lazy Linguist

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“Would you like to? Do you want to? Would you like to? Do you want to?” For days, these words—set to techno elevator music—have been on repeat in my head, thanks to the Earworms Musical Brain Trainer ($17; ear­, a new audio course that promises to effortlessly infiltrate my skull with conversational Russian vocabulary. Only I can’t seem to remember the Russian part.

The Earworms series, available in 16 languages, is designed to take that pesky thinking step out of learning. Using the same basic principle that Kit Kat did with its annoying “Give me a break” jingle, each lesson consists of a five-to-six-minute tune that’s catchy enough to stick. Listen a few times and key words and phrases lodge in your brain.

It’s a lot more fun than my last assault on the Russian tongue, which was inspired by a crush on a Siberian circus performer. Listening to lectures on my crusty Walkman was boring, so I never got past yes and thank you—not enough to charm the Cossack. Grooving to iPod downloads that feature flirty, sultry-voiced narrators repeating translations is actually kind of addictive.

After a week, I can almost count to ten and order a pizza, and I know at least five days of the week. Otherwise, “Izvenite Ia ne govoriu po Russkii. [Sorry, I don’t speak Russian.] Eto ne legko. [It’s not easy.]” At least they taught me how to say it.