William Shakespeare still today has a significance in our lives. We say things and we do not know that some of sentences originated from Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote 1/10 of the most quoted lines ever written or spoken in English!
The idea of tackling Shakespeare in school has sometimes sent chills down both students’ and teachers’ spines, but the truth is that studying Shakespeare does not have to be so scary/daunting. His plays and sonnets are filled with themes that are relevant still to this day. Most importantly, Shakespeare knew how to tell a good story.
Shakespeare invented many words! 3,000 in fact!
Even words that our students think were only invented lately like ‘twerk’ and ‘swagger’.
Young people today love using quotes to describe their daily lives! Many of them do not realise that the quotes they are using are by Shakespeare.
It is important to show the students this so they can relate to Shakespeare!
Tasks to use in the classroom
Here is a Shakespeare’s original version and a modern version from the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
Original- Juliet: Thou know’st the mask of night is on my face, Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek For that which thou hast heard me speak to-night Fain would I dwell on form, fain, fain deny What I have spoke: but farewell compliment! Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say ‘Ay,’ And I will take thy word: yet if thou swear’st, Thou mayst prove false; at lovers’ perjuries Then say, Jove* laughs. O gentle Romeo, If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully: Or if thou think’st I am too quickly won, I’ll frown and be perverse an say thee nay, So thou wilt woo; but else, not for the world. In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond.
A modern equivalent Juliet: Because it’s dark, you can’t see my face. Otherwise you’d see me blushing About what you’ve heard me say tonight. I would willingly stay polite and deny What I have said. But forget about being polite, Do you love me? I know you will say yes.
And I will believe you. But if you promise you love me, You might actually be lying. They say God laughs When lovers lie to each other. Oh gentle Romeo, If you do love me, say it truly. Or if you think it’s too quick and easy to get me to love you, I’ll frown and play hard to get and say no to you So you’ll try harder to win me. But otherwise, I wouldn’t act that way for anything. To tell you the truth, handsome Montague, I’m too keen on you.
As a task, you could put the students in to groups and get each group to rewrite in modern language certain parts of the play.
Another task- Shakespearean vocabulary
Work in pairs to match the Shakespearean vocabulary (1-15) with the modern day equivalents (a-o).
Shakespearean Modern day
e. Telling a lie
f. For fear that, in case
g. Flirt or romance
k. I think
o. It was
Another task could be:
Look at these famous quotes from Shakespeare.
What are the modern-day equivalents of the underlined words?
1. ‘The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.’ As You Like It
2. ‘This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.’ Hamlet
3. ‘Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.’ Hamlet
4. ‘Many a true word hath been spoken in jest*.’ King Lear
Once the task is complete, start a discussion with the students about the quotes!
Talking like Shakespeare task.
With a partner, write a short dialogue using as many of the Shakespearean words in as you can, and Shakespearean grammar. Then read your dialogue aloud to the class.
A wide range of information about Shakespeare and his works.
Images of Shakespeare’s life.
These black and white images show the house where Shakespeare was born, the writing on his tombstone, and more.
An essential resource for William Shakespeare’s plays, sonnets, poems, quotes, biography and the legendary Globe Theatre .
Learn about Elizabethan dress on this website that even includes some patterns to make your own!!
Poetry magnetic tiles
This is a really cool tool works like magnetic poetry tiles. Select how many Shakespearean words you want, then receive that many random tiles that you can arrange however you like to create your own Shakespearean poetry.
This site has lesson plans and resources for teaching Shakespeare. You can sign up for a newsletter, find links to videos, and much more from this site that makes teaching Shakespeare easier!
This is a brilliant dictionary that provides definitions for words that are no longer used or have changed in meaning for example ‘power’ and it also offers insight into the symbolism of words that modern readers might not recognize.
This guide offers a lot! It has personal information about Shakespeare to plots of all his plays to a handy list of glossaries.
No Fear Shakespeare
This resource is from Spark Notes. It puts two pages side by side: one with Shakespeare’s language and one with modern language.
Open Source Shakespeare
You read Shakespeare’s works here, or you can use the concordance to learn about specific words and get statistics.
This site offers translations of some of the most common Shakespearean words.
Phrase used by Shakespeare
This site allows us to find out what common phrases were probably first used by Shakespeare.
Teachers guide to Shakespeare
This guide tips and advice for teaching any Shakespeare drama.
You can listen to 8 of Shakespeare plays and 4 sonnets here.
This site contains a variety of videos clips .
How well do you know Shakespeare quizzes?
Shakespeare quotations quiz
Shakespeare general quiz