We asked some of our authors and experts to share their hints and tips for teaching Shakespeare. Here’s a round-up of the top five classroom activities and ideas:
- Start by admitting Shakespeare is ‘difficult’ and everyone is on unfamiliar ground with the language.
- Make it relevant – encourage discussions about Iagos in the playground and the Romeos/Juliets in all our hearts.
- Use contemporary ideas – for example, Juliet is a Leo (born on Lammas Day Eve 31st July), so get a detailed description of Leos from an astrology site or book and consider how far Juliet fits these traits.
- Point out how often Shakespeare is used and re-used in films and musical adaptions: West Side Story = Romeo and Juliet; The Lion King = Hamlet; 10 Things I Hate About You = The Taming of the Shrew.
- Put your students into pairs and ‘translate’ a chunk of dialogue into modern day speech. Try sections from the lovers’ quarrels in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Iago and Emilia’s dialogue from Othello or Hamlet’s exchanges with Horatio or with Gertrude. Ask some of the pairs to act out their modern interpretation and then transfer the meaning and energy into Shakespeare’s original dialogue as a class.
We would love to hear your top tips for teaching Shakespeare – please get in touch!