American Airlines reduces training time 150% by having learners sing the lesson

American Airlines cut training time of a module from one hour to 15 minutes by having participants sing a song using the learning material. In American's training program for new hire reservation agents, participants must learn which calls are transferred to a special Hertz reservations desk and how to make this transfer.

Formerly taught with the lecture method, the process was difficult and time-consuming for learners to master. Now it's a song. First learners view some slides of transfer qualifications and conversations to use with customers. Then, they are given song lyrics with five verses that explain the process. To the tune of 'Bingo', learners sing the 'Transfer Song', which starts like this:

'You hear 800 in your ear,
And if it is not clear-o
Just hit R-P-T
Identifier will repeat
in your little ear-o.'

The combination of words set to music help make this task simple to learn and easy to remember. Creator Beth Hendrickson contributed the lyrics to the Curriculum Development Team, and now this song is used in all of the New Hire Training classes throughout AA's reservations system to help engage learners' powerful musical memory.

The reduced training time is proof that songs can be powerful memory and learning devices. Julie Plett and Marty Kusmierski are members of the design team.

(March/April 1997 issue)