Learning by heart

Learning by heart


Some people have good memories, and can easily learn quite long poems by heart. But they often forget them almost as quickly as they learn them. There are other people who can only remember things when they have said them over and over, but when they do know them they don't forget them.

Charles Dickens, the famous English author, said that he could walk down any long street in London and then tell you the name of every shop he had passed. Many of the great men of the world have had wonderful memories.

A good memory is a great help in learning a language. Everybody learns his own language by remembering what he hears when he is a small child, and some children who live abroad with their parents seem to learn two languages almost as easily as one. In school it is not so easy to learn a second language, because the pupils have so little time for it, and they are busy with other subjects as well.

The best way for most of us to remember things is to join them in our mind with something which we know already, or which we easily remember because we have a picture of it in our mind. That is why it is better to learn words in sentences, not by themselves; or to see, or do, or feel what a word means when we first use it.

The human mind is rather like a camera, but it takes photographs not only of what we see but of what we feel, hear, smell and taste. When we take a real photograph with a camera, there is much to do before the photograph is finished and ready to show to our friends. In the same way, there is much work to be done before we can make a picture remain for ever in the mind.

Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.