Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Motivational Hook or Lead In to Shakespeare

Often times, ELLs (and others) shudder at the thought of studying Shakespeare. So the first thing teachers must do is establish a connection between the everyday English they already know and the Bard's English. Without a doubt, they will be shocked to know that many of the common expressions we use in English date back to him. Some of the sayings were created by him while others were popularized by him. "Love is blind" is a popular item with high school kids. Imagine their surprise to know that it was coined by Shakespeare and was quite a favorite line of his. It appears in several of his plays, including Two Gentlemen of Verona, Henry V and The Merchant Of Venice.

Why not find the most common expressions your students use from this list and share some of those lines with your students. For ELLs, it will definitely reduce their fears over what awaits them in studying his works. Add to this, dynamic teaching strategies which actively involve students in the plots and soap opera lives of the characters and you will find them quite open to studying his works. Tableaux (students pick a scene that means a lot to them and, in student created costumes, do a freeze pose of a key event), skits (where kids act out their favorite scene), clips of the DVD after major acts, having them keep journals as one character in the play (they become that character in writing the journals), etc.are just a few of the strategies that come to mind in making Shakespeare a memorable experience for all. The list can easily be expanded by any teacher working with Shakespeare. If you are new to it, ask a colleague for ideas. As you already know, teachers love to share. They only need to be asked:)


I hope your students enjoy it:)



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