During my studying English, I thought about how we learn our native language.

Mine is Russian. At school we learn a lot of poetry, different poems we learn by heart.

So my question is, how often English children in school learn verses? Could it be helpful in my learning?

  • At what stage of education are you memorizing poetry? Elementary school 5-11 years old, middle (12-14), high school (15-18)? Also, what kind of poetry? Nursery rhymes? Pushkin? Somewhere in between?
    – Mitch
    Mar 22, 2018 at 1:18

3 Answers 3


Perhaps you are referring to nursery rhymes, traditional poems and songs intended for very young children. A collection was published in 1744 as Tommy Thumb's Song Book, but a 1781 compilation published as Mother Goose's Melody was more enduring, and so the term Mother Goose rhymes (poems, tales, etc.) is virtually synonymous with nursery rhymes.

The language is often archaic, and poetic English is considerably different from prose in what is permitted (owing to artistic license). As such, they are probably not useful for an adult learner as far as the mechanics of English are concerned. It is possible, in fact, that poetry will introduce confusion and non-standard usages.

On the other hand, a large proportion of the entries on Wikipedia's list of nursery rhymes are intrinsically familiar to most native speakers, and so idiomatic references abound in writing and conversation. Familiarity with characters like Ole King Cole or Humpty Dumpty or Little Miss Muffet would aid in understanding, not unlike familiarity with classical or Biblical tales or expressions.

Beyond nursery rhymes, I could not confidently say any particular poems or poets are taught to all children in all locales. To be sure, students with a decent literary education will be exposed to the works of Shakespeare, probably some Milton and Donne, and various greats in each era subsequent, but not everyone studies the same Shakespeare works nor in the same depth. Curriculum varies very considerably by location. In the U.S., it's entirely possible for high school students in two adjacent towns to study mutually exclusive sets of 19th and 20th century poets.


Poetry is a required part of the curriculum of Students of all ages. Learning and reciting poetry is not a major part of the curriculum, instead students learn to read, understand, respond and analyse poetry. They are also taught to write their own poetry, though this is not formally assessed in UK schools.

Recitation is taught as part of Drama and Performance, and there is an organisation called LAMDA that offers graded tests in poetry recitation.

If you enjoy reading poetry, go for it! But remember that poetry isn't like prose. Poets sometimes bend the rules of grammar, and sometimes break them.


You ask "Could it be helpful in my learning?"

I will say "yes", for this reason:

It will help you with pronunciation. Reading metrical poetry aloud (especially rhyming poetry) will help you learn and remember things like stress, as well as the many vowel sounds in English that can be spelled in different ways.

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