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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

To memorise or not to memorise

There is this issue of whether memorising is an effective way of studying a language or not.

Our teacher tends to ask us sometimes to memorise parts of texts. Leading to us students mumbling Russian phrases in the car, the metro, the living room, the garden - eyes focused on a blank spot in the distance, a bit out of breath, saying 'nananaaaa' when the words escape us, glancing at our paper and then raising our voices again for the next pair of sentences...

It feels a bit childish at least; back to the days where you had to learn your new year's letter, ready for this little pat on the back and the 'bravo!' of parents and grandparents. (Which is what we do: we applaud for each other when we make it to the last sentence of the text in class, with a little irony in our claps maybe but still we do it!)

It's discouraging as well, especially when the texts are long. There is this other childish feeling: I will never be able to remember this whole text! OK, there we found a solution: a paragraph a day... Some of our class even make drawings to remember the order of the events.

And is it also useful? I think it is. Depending on the texts of course. It should be common phrases, used daily. Phrases that are supposed to stay in your memory like annoying tunes. How wonderful then that I still remember the sentences: "Скоро я дошёл до места. Я подошёл к дому, постучал в двер и услышал знакомый голос: "Войдите!" Я вошёл в дом. "Как хорошо, что ты пришёл", - сказал мой друг."
(...verbs of movement indeed...)

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