On Memorization

Throughout the course of my own education, and now as a semi-educator myself, I have picked up various handy ways to assist with memorization.

The first and probably best "memory assistant" is music. It doesn't have to be good, or really even "musical." But putting whatever you're trying to memorize to music is vastly helpful!

In high school, I memorized the presidents of the United States (in chronological order) by putting them to a song. I can still sing it to this day.

I can also recite the alphabet backwards by simply putting a tune to it.

The best thing to do is write out the words to your song, then sing it repeatedly - taking away a few of the written words each time. You (or whoever you're helping) won't forget it!

Similarly, rhymes are very helpful too! Remember the old favorite "i before e, except after c, or when sounding like 'ay,' as in neighbor or weigh"? I'll bet you do... because it rhymes!

Lastly, mnemonic devices. This can be anything from remembering something else that starts with the same letter, to finding a clever name for something. Most recently, when explaining how decimals work, I have taken to calling decimal places "houses" where the numbers live. As soon as I use the magical word ('houses'), my student knows exactly what I'm talking about and remembers the concept.

Of course, when attempting to memorize something - long, short, facts, spelling, whatever - the best thing to do is to figure out your personal learning style. Are you a visual learner? Seeing what you're trying to memorize will help. Do you chiefly rely on audio for learning? Consider taping yourself or someone else repeating your memorization target. Are you a motor processor? Write it out - over and over again. You will have the very most success if you combine all of these.

Good luck, happy memorizing!


Music is an excellent way to assist learners, and it is a recognized strategy with a great reputation among ESL teachers!


Karli B.

Tutor of All Trades for Elementary through High School

500+ hours
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