A letter to the learners of English: 7How to remember what you have read? [Archives:2007/1100/Education]

November 5 2007

Prof. M.N.K.Bose
Professor of English,
Faculty of Education, Taiz
[email protected]

Dear students,

I have written a lot about reading in my last few letters; you should now be convinced that there is nothing like reading that can help you to improve your language. Read anything and everything; make reading your hobby. You'll be surprised to see an incredible improvement in your English.

In this letter, I'll say how you can keep in mind what you have read with a lot of care. It is equally important, isn't it, to get the benefit of your reading because you spend a lot of time and energy to read a lot of things in your life and what is all that for? Why is it that you forget most of what you read painstakingly? I've seen students cursing themselves, especially in the examination halls, when they can't recollect what they have read, no, memorized for the examination. Why does this happen? One possible reason I can think of is this: most of you read only for the examinations and try to forget what you read immediately after the examinations, mainly because you tune yourselves to this habit and develop it consciously; your mind becomes set to this practice over a long period of time and it becomes difficult for you to get rid of this practice once you are grown. After all, most often our minds behave as we want them to, don't they?

How to get out of this problem? How to train our minds to remember things for long? I know I'm getting into a difficult area of psychology; though I'm not a psychologist, with my experience as a teacher, I can make a few suggestions, I'm sure; all out of common sense and what I have seen happening with many successful learners.

First of all, as I've been suggesting, make reading your habit; read whenever you find time- while traveling, while chewing qat, while watering your qat fields, while waiting for your friends, while you don't get sleep and while, while, while you ; in other words, let books occupy your leisure. What books? Definitely not your textbooks all the time; but stories, novels, clippings, interesting anything. Carry them with you wherever you go; most of my friends never forget to pack books in their travel bags. How to get books? One good thing you can do is to ask your parents and relatives to present you books on your birthdays so you can have a good collection of them for reading; similarly let all your presents to your friends and brothers and sisters be books.

Once reading becomes your hobby, you'll tend to remember whatever you read, because your mind is full of what you have read, isn't it? More importantly, share what you read with others; talk to others what you've read; tell the stories or incidents or jokes that you've read. It has three benefits: first, it helps strengthening your understanding of what you've read, second, it helps you to remember them for a long time and third, it makes others enjoy and you add to human happiness. Of course you can't keep everything that you've read in your mind; that is not possible either. Keep all that is interesting, relevant and useful to you.

Try to do this consciously till it becomes your habit; then reading will not leave you. As I've said, reading is infectious, it will infect your brothers and sisters and friends – a good and welcome infection! Good luck.

Yours affectionately,

Dr M N K Bose.