Rote Learning-Essential Learning Technique

“Learning by Repetition”

A Blessing for Learners

Learning is a complex phenomenon. Learning a new concept, ideas, fact, fiction heavily depends on individual nature. Individual learns well when s/he integrates deep understanding with intensive practice. Individual learning nature determines level of understanding new things in a life circle. Unique individual possesses unique styles of learning. Individual learns something at own comfort level and styles.

Any learning is good

Human being develops own way of learning new things. Since, learning is a complex phenomenon; therefore I firmly believe that “any learning is good”; if it caters the need of individual, family, society, state and nation positively. Learning styles can be different from one person to another person. In fact person’s learning does matter in life. It purely depends on individual’s requirement and individual’s nature. Learning styles can be different as well as learning objective can also be different. Rote learning is essential learning style right from the evolvement of human society. Rote learning is fundamental style of learning. Rote learning is crucial learning style since our childhood. As we grow, we develop our own understanding of worldly things. We learn by adopting different learning method i.e. rote learning, meaningful learning and conceptual learning at different stages of life.  We speak our first word i.e.  Maa, Paa, Papa, Mom, grandpa etc; we do so much internal repetition and drilling before speaking these words. Our verbal learning depends on rote memorization at early stages in our life. It certainly continues at certain age and at certain extent for whole life. Gradually we move from rote memorization to meaning learning. In fact rote learning is instilled in our nature right from the beginning of our life.

Rote learning is an essential nature of our learning

Rote learning is an essential nature of our learning. Rote learning is an integration of repetition, drilling, memorization and proper practice in a certain interval. It is an effective means of motivation of getting basic knowledge in early stages of learning. It boosts up our confidence and also motivates us for learning new things. At early stages of learning, child learns so many new things i.e. rhymes, days, months, basic spellings, table, counting, basic facts, different useful sentences in day to day life. Parent and teacher motivate child to do practice several times. It becomes an active habit of learning. Gradually we form a habit of learning new things through repetition, drilling and memorizing.

Rote learning is path to reach the destination of understanding, but not the destination. We know that memorization is a very important tool of learning. We can say that rote learning is a combination of memorizing and understanding. In other words rote learning is way of developing a level of understanding through memorizing.

Rote learning involves repetition

Rote learning involves repetition of learning same thing over a period of time. Gradually people reaches at the level of accuracy through repetition. Rote learning is established a sense of solid foundation for accurate knowledge on which the development of other learning depends on it, if not completely then surely partially. It is beneficial for knowledge acquisition. Rote learning is a process of learning from accuracy to fluency since it involves repetition, practicing and time to time over viewing of learning.

Rote learning in examination oriented educational system

Rote learning is one of the best learning style in an examination oriented educational system. The examination paper appears to be designed to test fixed and accurate knowledge of students shared by educator on different time. Educator expects learner to be precise and accurate while writing answer. Exactness comes with a lot of repetition and memorization of same topics over a period of time. Rote learning style suits well for academically weak and academically average performer and sometimes gifted learner too. Teacher expects same answer from students as taught by him in previous day of teaching. In these circumstances, rote learning style becomes blessing for average students and curse for gifted students. Now and then rote learning becomes very helpful for gifted students at eleventh hour of final examination .i.e. Sadhana is a very good student of the class but even after several attempt to clear concept in one of the complex topic of inorganic chemistry, she could not do it. She knows the importance of this topic. Since this is very crucial topic of a particular unit she could not leave this question due to her lack of understanding. So she decided to memorize it. She tried to learn and wrote the answer well in the examination.

Essential learning skill for academically weak learners

Generally it is observed that academically low performer cross the barrier by using technique of rote learning in examination oriented educational system. They focus on rote learning in each subject. Since, they could not develop proper understanding of prescribed syllabus during academic session. They focus on memorizing important topics several times and try to command so that at least they will attempt question paper very well. No doubt at all, evaluator does not know the calibre of students while checking answer sheets. They evaluate what is written on the answer sheets. Content of answer sheet is complete representation of calibre, capacity and understanding of a particular student. Evaluator does not see the face value and understanding level on answer sheet. Evaluators evaluate the final answer of student.

Academically weak students gain confidence through rote learning technique. They try to memorise different important topics. Usually it goes from simple to complex. Rote learning technique becomes blessing for academically weak students and helps students to cover a respectable portion of prescribed syllabus partially in almost all subjects. They learn definition, (day and dates, mathematical formulas, historical points, scientific fact, general rules and regulations, differences, certain points) key points, several factual questions, and one word/one sentence question answer, short type question answer properly. Academically weak students score respectable marks and cross the barrier of class, grade and next level of promotion. Rote learning is a means to cross the barrier.

I think learning a certain topic through rote learning lead student to next level of understanding in certain situations. It is purely depend on unique quality of a unique individual. Rote learning is an important tool of learning to succeed in the examination driven educational system. Pioneer of Chinese philosopher Biggs (1999:2) says that “Repetition is the route to understanding”. We may agree or disagree on Biggs perception; however rote learning is surely helpful for many of students.

“Practice leads to perfection.”

“Practice leads to perfection.”  This could be probably tag line for rote learning. Famous educationist Moore stated that “Rote learning is a method involving repetition and memorisation”.  Student drills and repeatedly reads and learns same topics several times to memorise by heart. Students try to memorise different topics by verbal and written repetition. They practice it so many times. They focus on several points of prescribed syllabus on different time. They focus on-

  • Key definition related to different topics
  • Key words related to different topics
  • Difficult words’ spelling
  • Important points of different topics
  • Days and dated of different topics
  • Important factors related to different topics
  • Mathematical formulas/Different rules



  • Rules and regulation
  • Scientific facts and figures
  • Short answer –Multiple choice/objective
  • Short answer
  • Simple items on map/direction symbols
  • Compare and contrast between two

Rote learning is beneficial when we focus on factual (facts) questions. Students make chart, diagram, notes and list of key points. They practice all learning items continuously till they get confidence to reproduce on the paper or reproduce verbally.

  Everyone cannot develop understanding for everything

 Rote learning is a ladder for starting from lowest point of learning to highest point of understanding. Proper learning happens with proper practice when we do it in proper manner. Everyone cannot learn everything. I firmly accept that rote learning is an art. It is completely a skill. It is basically a challenge for a learner to memorise something and reproduce in same language. Rote learning provides opportunity for mediocre learner to learn something accurately and to do something good in life. Sometimes and somewhere it helps to fill the gap between a smart performer and an average performer. It is observed in pedagogical perspective that so many average learner turned into an intellectual learner in his life time. Rote learning encourages diligence and hard work in learning. It gives a sense of pleasure when I read Francis Bacon quote, “Knowledge is power”. I find that the more I read, the more I know and the more time I spend on learning my prescribed syllabus, the deeper understanding I develop. Of course, I get better score in the examination and get appreciation from family, friend and society. Nilabh stated in an award ceremony that everyone marked me as a mediocre student, but I proved myself worth enough with my hard work. I focused on essential key points in almost all chapters in all subject. I practiced so much by reading, writing and repeating this exercise over a period of time. It is not an easy job at all. It demands a lot of patience, persistence and consistence to memorise something and reproducing in same language.   Learning objective makes a thin layer difference. I firmly believe that purpose of learning decides nature of learning styles. If rote learning fulfils our need then I enjoy doing it several times.

Rote learning involves thinking process

Rote learning is a process of thinking. When a student learns something by repeating it several times, certainly thought process is on awaken mode. Human beings perform a work when he involves in it. Human involvement is a sign of integration of several thoughts. Mind actively involves in memorising. Mental involvement is proportionate to thought process of human. The more we involve, the more we think to achieve it, to enquire about it and to explore about it.

I firmly believe in great educationist ‘Chan’ philosophy of learning. He quoted, “People can only know through learning and are not born with knowledge” …and people should “have an insatiable desire to learn”. Desire for learning is a crucial factor in learning. Interest to learn something is most important than to select one between two learning styles, whether rote learning is valuable or meaningful learning has great value. . Since, learning is a complex phenomenon; therefore I firmly believe that “any learning is good”; if it caters the need of individual, family, society, state and nation positively.

Rajeev Ranjan

Reference web links:-

An analysis of Chinese EFL learners’ beliefs about the role of rote learning in vocabulary learning strategies

Larsen-Freeman, D. & Long, M. H. (1991). An Introduction to Second Language  Acquisition Research. London & NewYork: Longman.