When I was a child, we often had to learn poem by heart.  I remember hours of trying to remember a poem and having to recite it in front of the all class. Some poems such as Le Corbeau et le Renard and Le Loup et l’Agneau by Jean de la Fontaine, I still remember forty years later.

Rote learning was deemed to be an efficient way of learning at the time. Rote learning is a “memorization technique based on repetition. The idea is that one will be able to quickly recall the meaning of the material the more one repeats it.”

Although I prefer a more active way of learning, learning something by heart can still be a good way to remember vocabulary, learn some new structures and discover a few new poets.

Ultimately though, whichever way you learn does not matter much. What matters the most is how often and for how long you are exposed to the language that you want to learn. Therefore, I think that learning something by heart is quite a good way to learn.  I can also be quite fun!

Jacques Prévert, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine and Louis Aragon are some of the poets that I would recommend to read and learn. If you click on the names it will take you to a video which will hep you to learn the poems.

Here is the first poem:

Le Cancre de Jacques Prévert

Il dit non avec la tête

mais il dit oui avec le cœur

il dit oui à ce qu’il aime

il dit non au professeur

il est debout

on le questionne

et tous les problèmes sont posés

soudain le fou rire le prend

et il efface tout

les chiffres et les mots

les dates et les noms

les phrases et les pièges

et malgré les menaces du maître

sous les huées des enfants prodiges

avec des craies de toutes les couleurs

sur le tableau noir du malheur

il dessine le visage du bonheur.

Why don’t you have a go at learning this poem?

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