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Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization Review by Jennifer Harrison

Andrew Pudewa
Institute for Excellence in Writing
8799 N. 387 Rd.
Locust Grove, OK 74352

Young minds seem to be wired for memorization. It amazes me what children are able to retain and perform. There is a good reason the early years of learning are sometimes called the Parrot Stage! They soak up information like sponges and delight in showing off their skills.

Study after study shows that not only are children good at memorization, but that memorization is good for children! The more they memorize, the more their brains are trained to remember even more information. The more memory work you study, the faster they’ll be able to remember future memory work.  

As Andrew Pudewa says, "Memorization is not only natural for young children, it is culturally powerful and educationally essential." They can only speak and write information that they have accumulated. Memorizing poetry and other beautiful passages gives students a foundation of vocabulary, grammar, and well-turned phrases from which they can draw for the rest of their lives.

Knowing that students have this great capacity for memorization, and knowing that the quality of what they memorize can have a great impact, Andrew Pudewa has created a poetry memorization program that helps students stretch their linguistic muscles and increase their memorization skills.

Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization provides 96 poems and speeches to memorize and recite. These come in a 200-page Teacher’s Manual, which also includes instructions for using the mastery learning method and biographies and lesson enhancement ideas. The set also comes with a beautiful leather CD wallet, which includes five audio CDs of Pudewa reading each of the poems and speeches in the guide. It also includes a DVD of his session Nurturing Competent Communicators, which is excellent and so encouraging.

Also included in the set is access to a free student ebook with blacklines for students to color while they listen to the poems. There is a calendar check list in the front of the student pages, which they mark off after practicing their poems for the day. 

And finally, it comes with access to seven free audio downloads. These inspiring sessions include:

  • Nurturing Competent Communicators
  • On Listening
  • On Speaking
  • On Reading
  • On Writing
  • Mastery Learning, Ability Development, and Individualized Education
  • Ten Thousand Times and Then Begins Understanding

The guide contains five different levels of challenge. Each of these levels includes around 19 poems and speeches. The levels are not grade levels, but experience levels. They are so well chosen! They are all grammatically correct and pleasant to speak and hear. The guide includes:

  • Introduction
  • Prerequisites for Effective Communication
  • Why Memorization?
  • Why Poetry
  • Mastery Learning-What is it?
  • How This Program is Set Up
  • How to Teach the Program
  • Level One: Poems
  • Level Two: Poems
  • Level Three: Poems
  • Level Four: Poems
  • Level Five: Speeches
  • Appendix 1: Biographies
  • Appendix 2: Bibliography
  • Appendix 3: Optional Lesson Enhancements

The CD set matches the five levels, dividing into five different CDs, which are easy to grab and listen to in the car. The poems are read by Andrew Pudewa, who is well known for being an engaging speaker. If he is a speaker at a nearby conference, I make it a point to listen to his sessions. The content of what he has to teach is phenomenal. As the website promises, he reads “with flair and finesse!” He does speak very well, though his voice is not what I would gravitate towards for recitations. He does have a uniquely identifiable voice. In short, we really didn’t listen to the CDs much, but simply read out of the guide. It was nice to have the CDs to reference if there was any confusion over rhythm or pronunciation.

My family started with level one, but decided to jump ahead to level three. We’ve been working on scripture memory, poems, and Latin phrases for several years, so the children are old hats at this. We loved the poetry selections in the guide. I introduce a new poem to them on Monday and we go over it, repeating lines back and forth for about ten minutes. We do that every day and by the end of the week, they are generally able to say the basic poems on their own. For longer poems, we memorize a stanza per week. After we have that poem ready, it gets slipped to practicing just every other day and then to just practicing once per week. Eventually, each poem gets moved to reviewing just once per month. With a new stanza or poem being added every week, what they learn quickly piles up!

This program costs $65 and will last your family for years, being shared by all ages. If you’re still in doubt, take a moment to research the benefits of memory work during the grammar stage. This poetry helps students of all ages become more effective communicators. It boils down to this main thought: You can't get something out, if it isn't already there. If the thoughts and linguistics aren't already in your student's mind, then they can't communicate those thoughts.

IEW offers a generous 100% Money Back Guarantee. It has no limits, and is unconditional, making their purchases risk-free. 

—Product review by Jennifer Harrison, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2016