[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 17 December 2006, 00:17 GMT
Lyrics 'stretch reading skills'
Freddie Mercury
Queen's Don't Stop Me Now was said to require Level 2 reading skills
Millions of adults in England have reading skills too poor to enable them to belt out many favourites from a karaoke autocue, research suggests.

The lyrics of the 10 most popular karaoke songs have been assessed and rated by government literacy experts.

Those tackling Robbie Williams' Angels needed Level 2 reading skills - the equivalent of five good GCSEs.

Experts from the Get On literacy campaign said 17.8 million adults would not be able to follow the song.

Those adults are estimated not to have not reached Level 2 reading skills on the National Qualifications Framework.

Once you've got the mic in your hand you don't want your reading skills to let you down
Phil Hope
Skills minister

They would also have trouble following the lyrics of Gloria Gaynor's I will Survive, the Commitments' Mustang Sally and Queen's Don't Stop Me Now, the research says.

These people may also have trouble working out a household budget or comparing products and services.

And the 5.2 million adults thought not to have attained Level 1 reading skills would struggle with Summer Lovin' from the film musical Grease, Elvis Presley's Suspicious Minds and Abba's Dancing Queen.

Those without this level of skills may not be able to check a pay slip or read bus and train timetables accurately.

Skills minister Phil Hope said: "Whilst we might think we know these tunes inside out, it's only on reading the lyrics properly that we realise that some of our favourite numbers are complicated.

"There are many pitfalls involved in public singing, but once you've got the mic in your hand you don't want your reading skills to let you down."


Anyone who is a wannabe Elvis or a secret Olivia Newton-John who sometimes struggle with the words should think about brushing up their skills in the New Year, he says.

"After all, getting help with your reading and writing could help you get on in your job, as well as improve your turn in the spotlight."

The government is offering hundreds of free courses to boost the basic skills of those who have a difficulties with literacy, language and numeracy.

The prime minister launched the Skills for Life Strategy in 2001 to tackle the legacy of adults with poor literacy, language and numeracy skills within England.

The strategy aims to help create a society where adults have the basic skills they need to find and keep work and participate fully in society

Call 0800 100 900 to find out about the free courses available.

Some of the songs that prove too hard at karaoke

Skills training 'needs shake-up'
05 Dec 06 |  Education
Skills gap 'threatens UK future'
05 Dec 05 |  Education
Reading scheme 'saves taxpayer'
11 Dec 06 |  Education

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific