It is common task to memorize word by word lines from verses and prose for toddlers, schoolchildren and even students for their L1 and foreign language.

I've noticed that such activity put lots of pressure on a student and we had extremely small amount of such assignments in comparison to other activities (solving tasks, writing essays, analyzing grammar).

Is there some scientific ground for text memorizing assignments?

Is it only for children? How about adults?

Does it help with a language acquisition or just makes memory stronger?

1 Answer 1


I collected some evidence and notes for my question:

  • memorizing useless pieces is useless, like:

    • famous speeches "I have a dream" - not useful vocabulary
    • chapters of Shakespeare ("Be or not to be") - outdated vocabulary
    • simple grammar (This is a table / This is an apple) - same rule applied infinitely
  • Paul Nation recommends (from What do you need to know to learn a foreign language - 2014):

The quickest way to begin speaking in another language is to memorize useful phrases and sentences. The very first phrases and sentences should come from the survival vocabulary which includes greetings, expressions of politeness, the language needed for shopping and moving around, numbers, the language needed in a restaurant, and brief descriptions of yourself, your work, and your reasons for being in the foreign country.

Activity 4.1: Memorized sentences and dialogues.

Write the sentences you want to memorize on small cards with their first language translation on the back. Ideally, you should get some help with pronunciation of these phrases and sentences before working on memorizing them.When memorizing, look at the first language translation and try to recall the foreign language phrase or sentence.

The phrases and sentences should be ones that you can use immediately.

Deliberate memorization is fast and long-lasting and makes material readily available for language use.

  • The quotes assume the language is being learned as a tourist or to live one's life. Being explicit about the assumption would improve the answer.
    – Tommi
    Aug 25, 2020 at 12:14
  • It is the problem of Paul's article (( I haven't stated anything about survival vocabulary in the question. It is still interesting to know evidence for memorization if you are at B2-C2 level.
    – gavenkoa
    Aug 25, 2020 at 13:22

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