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How to memorize a text in English [memorization tutorial]

Memorizing a text can really help you improve your English. It can:

  • Enhance your English and fluency
  • Help you internalize words and grammatical structures
  • Build your confidence speaking English
  • Help you express different aspects of your personality

And the really cool thing about memorizing a text is that it’s fun!
(Keep reading to get my FREE Memorization Guide)

But what does this mean for your English exactly?

This means that you can internalize structures and make them your own and, sooner or later, you may find yourself using those structures naturally. It also creates a unique opportunity to find more freedom in your voice by playing with different intonation patterns.

In this episode I share with you the technique that helped me memorize monologues when I was in acting school. We’ll also practice these techniques in action together with a short text from the film Legally Blonde.

And, to make your practice easier, I prepared for you a FREE memorization guide so you could practice it with me!

Download your free memorization guide here

Download now

In the guide, you’ll also find links to more texts you can memorize that’ll make your English practice so much more profound.

TRANSCRIPT

Podcast intro:

Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 309. And today I’m going to teach you how to memorize a text in English and also how memorization can help you improve your English.

Hey, hey, everyone. Thank you so much for tuning in for another episode. I’m so glad that you’re here. Today we have a slightly different episode cuz I’m gonna be teaching you a technique that on the surface has nothing to do with learning English. But since when we are only talking about the act of learning English, it’s not just the theory here, but I try to give you as many tools and resources as possible to help you level up your English practice. And not only to make it more effective, but also to make it more fun. And I believe that memorizing a text is a great way to practice English.

Now, notice that I did not say ‘memorizing words’. I’m actually very much against memorizing words to improve your vocabulary. And if you want to learn about how I believe you should improve your vocabulary, then I have an episode exactly about that in the description, so check it out if you wanna boost your vocabulary without memorizing thousands of words. But I do believe that memorizing a text has a different impact on your brain and on your English, and that is because you learn words within context.

That’s because you explore the experience of speaking English without having to produce the language in your head so you can focus on sounds and melody and emotions and tone of voice, and all the things that we don’t usually have the time or capacity to think about when we are speaking, cuz we’re thinking about just producing the language. So there is something very freeing about it. It’s also a really good exercise for the brain – memorizing a text. And there are a few additional reasons why I think memorizing a text could be useful for your English, but I will talk about it later.

So, that’s it. The technique that I’m gonna share with you is a technique that I have used as an actress, and I think it’s effective. So I invite you to try it out as well. As always, if you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review or rate the podcast. Or just comment over to Instagram @hadar.accentsway and tell me what you think about this episode. All right, so let’s go ahead and listen to today’s episode.

Video transcript:

Hey, my friends, how are you doing? Today I wanna teach you how to memorize a text. In this video, I’m going to share with you my technique for memorizing a text, and then you and I are going to memorize a short text together. I’ll show you how I take a few sentences and put my technique into action. I’ll try to memorize it on camera, and I hope that you can memorize this text with me while I do it. And the text itself is also in the description, if you are watching this on YouTube. If you’re listening to the podcast, it’s also in the description, so just look for the text in the description.

Now, the reason why I have all this experience with memorizing is because in my past, I used to be an acting student and as such, I used to memorize a ton of different monologues and scenes and scripts and texts, and a lot of things with S’s. And I had to develop this technique for learning quickly, which I ended up doing.

But I have to tell you that as I was memorizing those texts, it really enhanced my English and my fluency, and here’s why. When you memorize a text, unlike memorizing specific words, what happens is that you memorize the structure of the sentence. So all of a sudden you don’t have to come up with your own structure or grammatical form, you just memorize it.

And those structures started to get into my brain. And then when I would speak, I would actually recall that structure intuitively. I wouldn’t have to think about it because I’ve said it so many times. It has become a structure that I actually use to think and to speak, and I would use that structure and just speak it, just replacing the words and the nouns and the adjectives and the verbs, but I would already own that structure.

And the same thing with words. So let’s say I would memorize a text and I would come across a new word or a word that I would normally use, and because I memorized it and I used it in a play or a scene I was working on, what would happen is that, that word would become my word, and I would use it in real life as well.

So, I believe that memorizing a text could help you learn the language in a very profound, intuitive, and subconscious way. Now, I have to say memorizing a text is not the way to learn English or to improve your fluency. It’s a bonus. It’s something that you should or could do in addition to all the work that you anyway need to do, which is to practice speaking and to learn the language and the theory behind it and expose yourself to the language. So, all of that needs to happen regardless of you choosing to memorize certain texts, right? It’s not, instead of all of that, it’s just something that you can do in addition to experience the things that I have.

And there is really something joyful about working on a text or a scene or a monologue, and making someone else’s words your own words. I think that every person has an actor in them, and sometimes you just need to unleash that actor in you.

Okay, so in this video, I hope I convinced you that it would be a good idea for you to memorize a text, a monologue or a scene. So, make it interesting, right? Don’t like take an article from the New York Times and try to memorize it. I’m not saying that it’s not interesting. I’m just saying that if you find something that is emotionally fulfilling, you are going to have so much more fun.

I’m going to add a few resources for you in the description below this video, or if you’re listening to this as a podcast, in the podcast description, where you can find some of those monologues and scenes for free. So you can check it out, find your favorite monologue and practice.

Okay, so as you prepare for memorizing a text, you have to first of all create for yourself the best circumstances to succeed. So make sure that the space you’re in is a space without a lot of distractions. When I used to deal with more challenging texts, for example when I used to memorize Shakespearean lines, I would write it down in my own handwriting.

Or if I wanted to work on a text and I really wanted to make it my own, I would actually first write it down in a notebook, in every thought group, which is usually like a unit in the sentence between, let’s say the beginning and the first comma or full stop. I would write it as a separate line and this is how I would write the entire text. Because when you write it down and you see it in your own handwriting, you really make it your own.

Now, it’s not a must. If you prefer to work with a digital format, you can just put it on a Google Doc and just make it visible. The font should be big enough, it should be readable, and you can space it out, separate it, every thought group could be a separate line as well. It’s easier to do it on a Google Doc. So this is how you prepare the text first.

Then one thing that you have to remember is that you have to always say it out loud. You can read it several times, but the real work happens when you connect your eyes to your brain to your mouth. So, reading it out loud is critical.

And the third thing is repetition. You have to repeat it many, many, many, many, many times for you to remember it. It’s all about developing a muscle memory. And one more thing, the easy parts, you don’t need to repeat them over and over again. You should repeat the parts that are really challenging.

The words that are not that easy for you to pronounce, where your tongue gets caught up with, you know, certain consonants, and you wanna make sure that you clear out that obstacle really quickly. So, for example, if you read a text and then you get stuck somewhere because of the TH or the S or the R, make sure you say just that part, whether it’s one word, two words, three words together, not even a full thought group, but you just repeat it again and again, and again, and again and again, until you clear out the obstacles, you pave the path, right, for the thought to move smoothly from the beginning until the end of the sentence, nothing gets stuck, and then you start over.

So, you write down the script or organize it, and then you start, out loud with the first sentence. So you say the first sentence. And then you say it again, and you say it again, and then you don’t look at the text and you try to say it again and you peek whenever you get stuck. Now, don’t get frustrated if you don’t get it right, right? Like the moment you need a little bit of help, come back to the page. And then, you know, say it again in your head. You get stuck, you look at the page until you feel pretty confident in the sentence and that that you’ve said it clearly.

And whenever you feel like you got it, then you need to say it like five more times or six more times, right, just that one sentence. So, you say the sentence again or the thought group. And when you feel really confident, you move on to the next sentence or the the next thought group.

And then you do the same thing. You do the same thing until you feel pretty confident. If you need, you look at the line and then you start from the beginning. You start from the beginning and you say the first sentence and then the second sentence. You can look at the page and then you say it again.

Now, another great way to memorize is to record yourself and then listen to it when you’re on the go. Now, let’s say you memorize the text and you remember it. It doesn’t mean that you’re gonna remember everything the next day. So, a good way to kind of like maintain, the words in your brain is to record yourself saying it, and then to listen to it until you try and practice it again. But the idea is to not just do it once and that’s it. You need to live the text, you need to constantly have the words in your brain.

Now, here are a few more things that could help you. Sometimes we may remember the entire sentence, but we don’t remember how they all connect together. So for that, it would be good to read through the whole thing over and over again until the whole story is in your head, but what you could also do is to just memorize the first words of the sentence. So just try to remember the order of the first word. Why? Because a lot of times once you hear the word or you’ll remember the word, you’ll remember the rest of the sentence. What’s missing is, the fact that this sentence comes after the previous one.

So if this is what you struggle with – you remember the full sentence, but not the entire order – then maybe write it down on a piece of paper, just the beginning, the words that start the sentence and have that in front of you. And every time you get stuck, you’ll just look at those words and that will trigger the rest of the sentence.

And don’t be a perfectionist, at least at the beginning, unless you’re really working towards a play or something like that, when you really wanna commit to a text. If you’re just doing this for the sake of improving your English, then don’t worry about not getting it perfectly right at the beginning.

Now, if there are specific words that are challenging, like I said before, it’s important to repeat them again and again and again. But sometimes you can use your script to highlight the specific word that is challenging or to rewrite it, let’s say it’s word that is hard for you to pronounce, maybe you need to write it out phonetically, or just circle the TH, if you struggle with pronouncing the TH. Or let’s say you struggle with what word you need to stress, then use the script, use the text that you’re working with to highlight it or to rewrite it in a way that you will remember it visually as well.

By the way, personally, I don’t love memorizing a text by shadowing someone. So, I do teach shadowing, I think it’s a great technique, but when it comes to memorizing, I want you to have the freedom to explore your voice and the different intonation patterns. And sometimes when we memorize it by listening to someone else, then what may happen is that you may just learn their musicality and their intonation and their intention. And then you won’t give yourself freedom to explore new things or different things. So, you could memorize by listening to someone else and by doing shadowing, but I would say that you should challenge yourself and not do that, so that you won’t get caught up on a certain way of saying it and just create your own, even if it’s not perfect.

Now, before we start memorizing together, I wanna say one thing about the negative aspect of memorizing. So first of all, like I said before, you cannot just build on that. Like it’s not something that is going to help you reach fluency cuz you have to produce the language yourself, right? And it has to be your own, it has to be original. You need to be comfortable with creating original language. But this is something that you can add that would help you explore the language in a different way. So, make sure that it’s just a small part of your practice and not the only thing that you do.

And notice that I’m talking about scripts and texts, and ideally movie scripts or scenes. Because it has to be within context. I see a lot of people memorizing words separately, and they hope that just memorizing words would help them expand their vocabulary. But the truth is that when you memorize a word outside of context, it is not going to be available to you because first of all, you won’t have the confidence to use it in the right context because maybe you won’t understand it fully. When you memorize a new word within the context of the sentence, your brain learns not only to understand the meaning of the word, but also how to use it.

So when you use that word in context, you are a lot more likely to actually remember it and use it when you’re speaking freely. And when you don’t, it’s just stored somewhere, and basically what you’re doing is just increasing your passive vocabulary for the most part, and sometimes you might just forget it the next day. So this is something that I just want you to be conscious of.

So, my team selected for me a few sentences from a monologue from Legally Blonde, played by Reese Witherspoon. I’ve seen it once, the text, I haven’t seen it for more than that. And I haven’t written it out, so probably at this point I would either write it down or put it on a Google Doc and make sure that I organize the text in the way I want to say it or I want to memorize it, right? So short lines organized by thought groups.

So first, if I were you, I would just read it out loud once after organizing the text on the page. And then every time, let’s say I come across a word that I’m not certain of how to pronounce it, I would probably go and Google it or look it up to make sure that I don’t learn it or memorize it the wrong way and try to change it later.

‘Harvard’. ‘Harvard’. “On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle. The law is reason free from passion. Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard, I have come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law, and of life”.

So, we’re gonna try and memorize it together, my friends. I start with the first line: on our very first day at Harvard. That’s it. ‘On our very first day at Harvard’. ‘On our very first day’. ‘On our very first day’, right? I’m trying to make it smooth in my mouth. ‘On our very first day’. ‘Our’ – ‘ar’. ‘On our very first day’. ‘On our very first day at Harvard’. ‘On our very first day at Harvard’.

Now, here’s something else that could help me here. I would, maybe visualize it in my head. I would visualize myself walking with my backpack into the campus of Harvard. ‘On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle’. So, ‘a very wise professor quoted Aristotle’. So maybe I would also visualize the professor, like standing by the board and having that quote.

‘A very wise professor, a very wise professor, a very wise professor, a very wise professor, a very wise professor’. Do it with me. And then, now I’m gonna go back to the first sentence because I feel pretty confident with ‘a very wise professor’. ‘On our very first day at Harvard’, I’m gonna look to see if I got it right. ‘On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle’. Quoted Aristotle. ‘A very wise professor quoted Aristotle’. ‘On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle’. I’m gonna say it again: on our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle.

So I’m noticing that there are two verys here – ‘very’ and ‘very’, that could be helpful. Again: on our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle. Now I think I got it right, I’m gonna look: a very wise professor quoted Aristotle. Good.

So now the quote: the law is reason free from passion. ‘The law is reason’… no, I put the stress in a different place. ‘The law is reason free from passion’. Now it makes sense. ‘The law is reason free from passion’. Sometimes I also use my body to embody what I’m saying. The law is reason free from passion. The law is reason free from passion. There’s musicality here as well. The law is reason free from passion. The law is reason free from passion. The law is reason free from passion. The law is reason free from passion. The law is reason free from passion.

On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle: the law is reason free from passion. Now we’re gonna do it again because I’m not, I don’t feel it just yet. On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle: the law is reason free from passion. Let’s do it one last time. On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle: the law is reason free from passion.

So, I’m pretty good with the first two lines. I feel like whenever I get to the quote, I get stuck a little bit, but I’m gonna continue. I’m actually gonna double check to make sure that I didn’t forget all the words: the law is reason free from passion. Good.

‘Well, no offense to Aristotle’. This is easy. It feels like a sentence that I would say. Well, no offense to Aristotle. Well, no offense to Aristotle. Well, no offense to Aristotle. Say it with me: Well, no offense to Aristotle. I think we can move on.

‘But in my three years at Harvard’. But in my three years at Harvard. So I’m imagining myself studying for three years at Harvard. It’s hard to imagine, but I’m gonna do it anyway. At my… what was it? ‘But in my’. ‘But in my three years at Harvard’. But in my three years at Harvard. But in my three years at Harvard. I may still look at the text as I’m like trying to get it right. ‘But in my three years at Harvard’. And then I’m gonna go back to the previous sentence: Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard’.

Let’s do it again together: Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard. ‘But in my three years at Harvard’. Now I’m gonna go back a little bit. ‘The law is reason free from passion. Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard, I’ve come to find’. ‘I’ve come to find’, that’s easy, I can just remember that. ‘I’ve come to find. I’ve come to find. I’ve come to find’.

Now, think about it. How often do you actually say, ‘I’ve come to find’ in your day-to-day life? When you memorize such a phrase and you say it again and again and again: I’ve come to find, I’ve come to find, I’ve come to find; and you memorize that chunk within the context, so you actually understand when to use it, I bet that you would start using it more often. This is why I started creating my Sprints, which are drills to help you remember those chunks, and I’m gonna link to more Sprints in the description.

Okay. ‘Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard’, ‘I’ve come to find’, I’ve come to find that passion is a key ingredient’ [I’m thinking of a cake] ‘that passion is a key ingredient’. So I’m thinking of a key and a cake, and all of it is an ingredient, and passion, cuz I talked about it before. Passion is a key ingredient. Passion is a key ingredient. I’ve come to find that passion is a key ingredient. I’ve come to find that passion is a key ingredient.

I’m gonna go back a little bit more: Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard, I’ve come to find that passion is a key ingredient, right, to the study and practice of law. To the study and practice of law. To the study and practice of law. I need to visualize it to get it. To the study and practice of law. Right? I’m imagining myself studying at home. ‘To the study and practice of law’.

‘That passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law. That passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law’. You see, I memorize a chunk and then I go back a bit. That passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law. Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard, I’ve come to find that… that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law. Yes! I think I got it. And the last part – ‘and of life’. That’s easy: and of life, of law and of life, of law and of life. That passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law and of life. That passion is a key ingredient to the study of law… that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law and of life.

Okay. This is the first time that I actually kind of remember the whole thing up until the end, but I haven’t said it from beginning to the end. So I’m going to try and do it, but I’m gonna have the text in front of me and I’m not expecting myself to get it perfect. I do cuz I want to show off, but I don’t know if I would be able to.

Okay, the beginning. Let’s see… I’m gonna take a look. ‘On our’. ‘On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle’. I’m gonna look at the beginning of the next sentence cuz I remember that it was a challenging part, so I don’t want to struggle so much with looking.

‘The law is reason free from passion’. Now, I remember that there was something very conversational after, so it’s easy: ‘Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard, I’ve come to find that passion is the key ingredient to the study and practice of law and of life’. I think I got it right.

Now what I’m gonna do, I’m actually gonna read the whole thing, just read it. And do it with me. Look at the text and read it with me. ‘On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle: the law is reason free from passion. Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard, I’ve come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law and of life.

Now, this is the real test, I’m gonna put it down, look straight in the camera and try to memorize it from the beginning until the end. ‘On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle: law is reason free from passion. Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in the three years… but in my three years at Harvard, I’ve come to find that passion is the key ingredient to the study and practice of law and of life’.

I think I kinda got it. So, what I would do now, I’m gonna let you do it on your own. I would probably read it again to see if I got it right, and then say the whole thing again and again and again. Now, here’s what I would also recommend: to just move around the house and say it, get it in your body, okay? I really think that the body is a big part of yourself and as such, you need to utilize it more when learning new things.

So, I would just like move around, I would act it out: “On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle: Law is reason free from passion”. See, it’s hard for me, still. “Law is reason free from passion. Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years of… at Harvard, I’ve come to find that passion is the key ingredient to the study and practice of law and of life”. I can’t move around cuz the camera is right here, but I recommend that you go and move around and enjoy this more.

All right. I love this. I think it’s so much fun to use the words and put them into practice, and then once you have it, you feel very confident using it. Now, especially if you choose a powerful monologue where you can get angry and feel what it’s like to be angry in English, I think that really could potentially boost your confidence, and your voice.

So, I hope this was fun. This was a little different cuz we kinda like practiced together and, I did something that I don’t usually do, but I now challenge thee [you] to take a short text and memorize it. I, like I said, I’m gonna link to a few resources where you can find a fun text and try to memorize it using the method that I have taught you. And see what happens, see what it feels like. And if you are inside the InFluency community, my free community on Facebook, if not, you know that the link is inside, why don’t you just record yourself and post it to the group? Fun.

All right, my friends, thank you so much for being here today. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope that memorizing texts and scenes is going to be fun and valuable for you. Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day. Tell me what you think, tell me if you have any additional tips for people to memorize texts. Let me know in the comments. And until then, see you next week in the next video. Bye.

The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
309. How to memorize a text in English
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18 Responses

  1. I just found this and started practicing memorization method! Thank you Hadar!! Your love for teaching and helping others is so admirable!!

  2. This technique really helps. Since I was a kid, I used to memorize in my first language texts in the same way as you have taught us today. Nowadays, I continue doing so for example with Beatles songs. However, listening to you on this video…I have come to find that doing so will help me to improve my English. I am going to memorize phrases that I can use in my daily conversations.
    Thank you Hadar! I have learned so much from you.

    1. Hi Zurelly, Karen here. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I am glad that you will now use this technique to help you with your English 🙂

  3. Dear Hadar, it doesn’t matter if I memorize the text according to your method. Still, I will definitely remember your consistent logic in presenting thoughts, and your pure and correct speech, which I understand entirely to my surprise. I am now an ardent fan, I will try to review your videos and learn a lot from you on the way to improving my English.

    1. Hi Greg, Karen here. Thanks so much for these kind words! Glad to hear that Hadar’s content has been helpful and clear to you 🙂

  4. You are amerzing,
    The memorazing is the Key to learnd a second language.
    Hadar you love to teach, thanks a lot,
    I hope God bless you and your team so much, have a good one!!!!.

  5. Thanks for sharing this with your audience, I use some of your methods but today I learned new ones, thanks! I will continue my journey learning from you because honestly you are the best teacher I have found on YouTube and social media.

    1. Hi Ben, Karen here. Thank so much for your kind words. Glad you find Hadar’s materials useful 🙂

  6. Hi. Now I am little relaxed, I want to start with you for my fluency and vocabulary in english, if you can help.
    One problem with me is that I am hard to hear, can’t understand words spoken. I will explain later.

  7. Thank you very much, you are really wonderful, and I am sorry because I cannot express my thoughts in English as he answers, and here I am using Google Translator and that to avoid spelling mistakes and to express correct punches
    As for the addition to what you mentioned of the interesting text in I wish the text itself would be in pdf format so that I could print the text itself.
    Thank you, my teacher, Hadar

  8. Thank you hadar
    I hope you’re doing great I am Following you from sudan on your Facebook page and your YouTube channel you do impossible to help people I really appreciate that. succses doesn’t happen over night you’re succsesfull theacher. Thank you very much

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