A Walking Quotation Dictionary
While you may remember a line or two from a favourite author or a few lines of a song, wouldn’t it be great if you could recall long passages, especially for a closed book exam where the exact words you know were in that book would make for an excellent answer for that exam? If you put memory techniques to work as part of your revising strategy, it can be entirely possible! This means you can remember everything from a great passage in a novel to a funny quote you read online.
The problem with longer passages – unlike the lists of ideas and numbers discussed in previous chapters – is that remembering long pieces of text is challenging enough as a short-term memory process, but trying to recall it after a considerable amount of time has passed seems next to impossible to most people. However, the method used in this chapter should help you – with practice of course – accurately recall a quotation or passage in a very easy way. The benefits for your upcoming exams or just for your own interest are well worth the effort of trying this technique out. Let’s get started!
To make it easy, let’s first look at how to memorise and recall shorter quotations:
- Pull out the key words found in the quotation, which essentially contain the essence – or, meaning – of the quote. These will be the only words that you will need to memorise.
- Once you memorise these words, then read through the quotation quite a few times and the other words that you didn’t focus on – usually words like "the," "and," etc. – will fall into place and it will all come together for you.
- To remember the keywords, you can always resort to one of the many memorisation techniques already mentioned, especially one that has you use a series of mental images to link the keywords together. Again, find the images that work for you personally in terms of an emotional connection or that resonate with something that appeal to you. Just remember that the stronger the link becomes between the image and the keyword, the better your ability to recall it will become.
- Link the images – and, therefore, the words – together by again visualising a connection between them.
- Now that you have the images and the links, go through the quotation again and you may find it much easier now to embed it in your memory banks in a way that will let you withdraw it later on demand.
- When you do need to pull it up, think first of the key images you created for it, work through these images and how they connect, and then move to the actual keywords followed by the other connecting words. Only after you have first repeated all these steps can you then try to say or write the quote from memory.
To practice this technique, find some quotes you really like that are funny or hold special meaning and use these first before you have to apply it to other quotes that do not have any emotional connection but are a must for your upcoming exam.
Once you get that down, now it is time for something a bit more challenging – lengthy quotes, speeches, or passages. One of the ideal memory techniques for something you want to memorise that consists of multiple lines – even thirty to fifty lines – is the journey method discussed earlier in this ebook. Each line would become a stage in your journey with accompanying landmarks whether this is something with open spaces or something that contains more urban elements. It all depends on how much imagery you need to associate with that line of text. Each person is different and has an accompanying ability of associating a certain amount of images with words. This is something you will have to figure out as you go through learning the various memory methods presented here. Here are some ideas:
- Do you have a favourite walk you like to take?
- Are you a golfer and can use your favourite course and accompanying holes as your journey?
- Are you a city lover and want to use different famous landmarks to work yourself through memorising a long passage?
It certainly helps if you are already familiar with the basic concepts or story of the passage, speech, or poetry you are trying to memorise as you can also create a cue for each line that ties to what you know about that particular text. Take the first word of each line and convert it into a visual image that can then be related to the other landmarks that you can place along the way to remember the rest of the line. This will walk your brain through to the next line that, once again, starts with a visual image to recall the first word in that line.
While this all can be done quite easily and you may have already discovered that this is fairly easy to accomplish, the sticky wicket might be when you have to memorise quotes or passages full of words that you do not hear or use on a daily basis in the modern world. For example, anything from Shakespeare or his cohorts from years past may seem impossible to learn. Not only do the words sound foreign, you might wonder how you can create an image for such strange words. In these cases, it is good to have a study guide that can interpret the words so you can get to a meaning that you can understand and then relate to an image and go from there.
No matter what type of quotation or passage you need to memorise, make sure you first have an understanding of the subject matter, have created an interpretation of it, and then formed an opinion on it as this will create a foundation from which you can put your imagination to work creating visual images and it will develop an emotional connection to what you are memorising rather than making it a rote activity you need to do to just score well on an exam. Be sure to also incorporate study guides that help you with this understanding and interpretation, especially if there are many words that are no longer commonplace.
And, speaking of foreign, are you ready to apply some tools and techniques that make learning foreign languages as easy as memorising something in your own language?