The Importance Of Shakespearean Language In Literature

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Invariably, we all sat in that English classroom our freshman year of high school and read a Shakespeare play. As a young student sitting in that freshman classroom, I had no clue what was going on in the play, mostly due to a complete lack in understanding the language. As a class we read Romeo and Juliet—our teacher often chiming in to tell us what words like dost and thou meant. After “reading” portions of Romeo and Juliet, we would have tests and quizzes on the plotline or characters, all of which I failed. Later on in my high school career, I still failed to pick up Shakespearean language, continuously faking that I knew what was going on when I didn’t. Not understanding the Shakespearean language continued through my undergraduate studies,…show more content…
John Doyle, author of Shakespeare for Dummies, argues that the reason students struggle so much is that “Shakespeare wrote his plays for performance—he never intended for people to read them as books” (1999, p. 59). In addition to this, it would be almost ridiculous for students to just read the words without learning their previous meaning. In his book, Doyle lays out the various ways to teach and understand Shakespeare. He begins by stating that one needs to understand the history before even beginning to understand the language (p. 70). Although he does not lay out how much information is needed to understand the history, he provides a very good point for teachers: if students do not understand the context that the language was used in, then how can they understand that this language at one time even existed? Following Doyle’s ideas, the idea of showing students the evolution of the English language for a class period would be very beneficial. For example, comparing texts such as Beowulf, Twelfth Night, and The Fault in Our Stars allows them to see and understand the development of the…show more content…
Agreeing with Doyle, Neal says that “students understand the language by watching it in action. They see what is going on and understand the language through that. They don’t need to read it” (2015, pg. 2). Neal’s ideology behind teaching Shakespeare entails the student watching the play in small portions, before breaking into small groups and reflecting on what they just viewed. The groups are split by ability, so students ask an array of questions and remain fully informed on the play’s plot line and character development. Next, Neal urges teachers—especially those who have students with IEPs or 504s—to use multiple assessment methods. Using multiple assessment methods allows students of all learning styles to understand the play to the fullest extent (2015, pg. 1). Neal provides some prominent examples in her classroom, which include storyboards and drama acting, as well as speaking and listening
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