Learning about Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization

May 13, 2022 | Posted by Jennifer

What is a powerful vocabulary builder, stimulates the imagination, and is entertaining to do? Not only that, but it can easily be done with mixed age students? Oh, yes, and one more thing: It doesn’t require reading either? Poetry memorization and recitation!

Poetry memorization packs an educational punch. There are two components to this: poetry and memorization. Why is it important for students to memorize? Andrew Pudewa writes in his introduction to Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization, “When children memorize (and maintain the ability to recite) interesting poems [there is] strengthening [of] the network of neural connections that build the foundation of raw intelligence.” In other words, memorization literally makes people smarter.

But what is it about memorizing poetry in particular that makes it so powerful? There are many things. One that Andrew mentions in the same article is that “like songs, the rhyming and rhythmic patterns intrinsic to English poetry create a ‘predictable-ness’ that aids and speeds memorization.” Andrew continues his thesis by noting that poetry helps to develop phonetic awareness and that poems “are almost always high quality language—even the simple, fun ones.” One other observation Andrew relates is that most poems impart “concentrated thought.” What he means by this statement is that poems impart a richness of meaning through their compressed lines. Poems employ rich vocabulary, sophisticated syntax, and literary techniques to relate thought.

Poetry has been around almost as long as writing. It is how the Gilgamesh epic was written in cuneiform.The stories of Homer (Iliad and Odyssey) were originally spoken aloud in poetic structure. Poetry is found in many ancient texts, including the Bible. Poetry is a powerful expression of the human experience. By including poetry memorization within your classes, students are participating in an ancient experience that stretches back through the ages.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization is a great way to present poetry memorization and recitation to your students. The course is divided into five levels. The first four focus on poetry, while the final level’s focus is on famous speeches. All students regardless of age begin with Level One and progress through the various levels using a mastery approach. As one poem is learned, a new one is added while the student continues to recite the previously learned pieces. In this manner students gradually build up a treasure trove of poems that will furnish their minds throughout their lives. The very first poem is a short, simple piece that is fun to memorize called “Ooey Gooey.” Here it is:

Ooey Gooey

Author Unknown


Ooey Gooey was a worm,

A mighty worm was he.

He stepped upon the railroad tracks,

The train he did not see!

Ooooey Goooey!


The laughter and the learning progress from there. Many of the poems are humorous. Some of them are serious. All exhibit excellent examples of syntax, vocabulary, and style. By the time students progress to Level Five, they have mastered eighty pieces and are venturing into speeches, such as Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and Churchill’s “We Shall Fight on the Beaches.”

Try the program with your students! If you visit IEW.com/free-poetry, you will be able to sample the first five poems in the program for free. The sample includes downloads of the PDFs for both the Teacher and Student Books along with the MP3 audio. The Teacher’s section also includes the introductory material that explains how to implement the program as well as expands upon why poetry memorization is so important.

How would you like to win your very own copy of the course? IEW is holding a drawing for one of three free copies of the complete Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization (LDP) course. To enter, click on this link. The drawing will be held Tuesday, June 15 at 5 PM CST, so be sure to sign up for it!

If you need any further inducement to add poetry memorization and recitation to your instruction, perhaps read Andrew’s thoughts on the subject, which appear on page 11 in the Teacher’s Manual: “Poetry is the apex of literature and thus the crystallized thought of the human race. By internalizing the best of poetry, we preserve and nurture the best of ourselves.”

Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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