A Midsummer Night’s
Teaching Shakespeare Effectively
While native English-speaking teenagers
are untangling the unusual grammar and
sophisticated wordplay of Romeo and
Juliet, ESL students are trying to bridge a
cultural as well as communicative gap to
understand Shakespeare, his times, and
his works.
The Characters
Students who
 know
parts of speech
 understand complex sentences
 read at a high-intermediate level
Act I Orientation
Scene 1: Historical Focus
 Elizabethan
 Elizabethan Economy
 The Tudor Family
Scene 2: Sonnets
Different rhyming patterns
 Petrarchan
 Spenserian
 Shakespearean
“Purgatory” by Maxine Kumin
 Translate
to everyday language
Act II
Decoding the Grammar
 Reordered
 Inventive grammar
 Unfamiliar Pronouns
 Surprising Prepositions
Decoding the Language
 Invented
 Unfamiliar Words
 Familiar Words
 Music of the Language
Act IV
Literary Devices
 Puns
 Alliteration
 Similes,
Metaphors, Personification
 Juxtaposition
 Foreshadowing
 Idioms
 Stage Directions
Act V
Outline for an 8-week course
 Journals
 Illustrations
 Analysis
 Character
 Research Paper
 Oral Presentations
The I-Pod arrives on the scene!
The Question is Whether to be or Not
(Decoding Shakespeare’s Grammar)
Why? To enable students to realize Shakespeare’s sentence
structures vary from today’s. By analyzing the
differences, the meanings of the sentences become
How? While reading each act, students must find and
translate Shakespearean sentences into everyday
sentence structures.
Result? Students are able to find subject – verb – object
relationships easily and finish reading the play in less
time with much more comprehension.
Act I
Reordered Grammar
Scene I Verb Followed by the Subject
Turn thee, Benvolio; look upon thy
(Benvolio, thee turn; look upon thy death)
Take thou this vial, being then in bed (4.1.95,96)
(Thou take this vial, being then in bed)
A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword?
(Why (do) you call for a sword?)
Scene II Object Followed by the Subject and Verb
My dismal scene I needs must act alone. (4.3.20)
(I needs must act my dismal scene alone)
Me they shall feel while I am able to stand, (1.1.29)
(They shall feel me while I am able to stand)
Scene III Object Followed by the Verb and Subject
This love feel I, that feel no love in this. (1.1.187)
(I (that feel no love in this) feel this love)
Scene IV Separated Construction
Two households, both alike in dignity
(In fair Verona, where we lay our scene),
From ancient grudge break to new
mutiny, (Prologue 1,2,3)
Tis since the earthquake now eleven
years, (1.3.25)
Scene V Poetic Omission
More torches here. – Come on then, let’s
(go) to bed.
Ah, sirrah, by my fay, it waxes late.
I’ll (go) to my rest. (1.5.139,140,141)
Act II Inventive Grammar
Scene 1 Parts of Speech
Almost any part of speech can be used as any
Ex: Thank me no thankings, nor proud me no
(verb as noun, adjective as verb and noun)
I will carry no crochets. I’ll re you, I’ll fa you.
Do you note me? (4.5.124,125)
(verb as noun, musical notes as verbs)
This is not Romeo. He’s some other where.
(adverb as noun)
Scene II Unusually Formed Comparatives
No, ‘tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide
as a church door; but ‘tis enough, ‘twill
Scene III Double Negatives
I will not budge for no man’s pleasure, I. (3.1.56)
Act III Pronouns
Scene I Unfamiliar Pronouns
thou, thy, thee
-used for familiars, children, inferiors
Ex: Tis well thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou hadst
been poor-john. (1.1.31-32)
(Gregory to Sampson, both Capulets)
ye, your, you
-used for superiors or unfamiliar equals
Ex: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
I do bite my thumb, sir.
Do you bite your thumb at us, sir? (1.1.45,46,47)
(Abram, a Montague, to Sampson, a Capulet)
Scene II Familiar Pronouns
his used in place of its
Ex: Alas, that love, so gentle in his view,
Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof!
it used instead of she
Ex:”Wilt thou not, Jule?” It stinted and said “Ay.”
mine instead of my
Ex: When the devout religion of mine eye (1.3.95)
Act IV Surprising
As is the bud bit with an envious worm
Ere he can spread his swift leaves to the air (1.1.153,154)
Which, as he breathed defiance to my ears, (1.1.112)
A plague a both houses! I am sped. (3.1.92)
Act V Atypical Verb Endings
Ex: What wouldst thou have with me? (3.1.77)
Ex: Is he gone and hath nothing? (3.1. 92
Ex: What, art thou hurt? (3.1.93)
The Taming of the
Decoding Shakespeare’s
Act I Shakespeare’s vocabulary
(30,000 words)
-not multisyllabic words, but reflect a wide
range of life
Love goes toward love as
schoolboys from their books.
But love from love, toward school
with heavy looks. (2.2.166-168)
Act II Invented Words
(approx. 3200 words)
Scene 1 Invented Words still used today
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life
(Prologue, 6)
Scene II Invented Words now in disuse
Drawn with a team of little atomies (1.4.57)
(little creatures)
Act III Unfamiliar Words
Scene I The Age of the Text
-use an edition with good text notes (The
New Folger Library)
Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach?
(stirred up the quarrel anew) (Folger)
Scene II Specialized Vocabulary
used to construct an unfamiliar setting or
unfamiliar customs
On Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen.
(1.3.16) (Lammas Eve = July 31)
How long is ‘t now since last yourself and I
Were in a mask? (1.5.37,38)
Act IV Different Meanings of
Familiar Words
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
(soft = just a minute, wait)
Marry, that, I think, be young Petruchio.
(1.5.145) (marry = really, indeed)
By my brotherhood, the letter was not nice, but full of
(5.3.18) (nice = trivial)
Familiar Vocabulary Used to
Construct a Theme
Civil disharmony
Clubs, bills, and partisans! Strike! Beat them down!
Down with the Capulets! Down with the Montagues!
My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep. The more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.
Act V Different “Music” of His
Scene I Lines appear to be metrically
irregular, but they aren’t.
Different accent on words
O me, this sight of death is as a bell
That warns my old age to a sepulcher
Give me thy torch, boy. Hence, and stand
aloof (5.3.1)
Different Number of Syllables
Syllables added
And hear the sentence of your moved prince.
That I must love a loathed enemy (1.5.155)
Syllables deleted
God gi’ good e’en. I pray, sir, can you read? (1.2.61)
(God give you good even = good evening)
May stand in number, though in reck’ning none.(1.3.33)
Different Sounds of Words Make
Them Rhyme
Lo, here upon thy cheek the stain doth sit
Of an old tear that is not washed off yet
O, she is rich in beauty, only poor
That, when she dies, with beauty dies her store.
Scene II Lines Shift from Prose
to Poetry
Shifts reflect shifts in emotions
What lady’s that which doth enrich the hand
Of yonder knight?
I know not, sir.
O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
(Romeo from dispassionate to passionate)
Scene III
Structure and Rhyme Scheme of
a Shakespearean Sonnet
14 lines divided into 3 quatrains (4 lines), ending with a
couplet (2 lines). Each line contains 10 syllables.
Rhyming pattern: abab, cdcd, efef, gg
Now old desire doth in his deathbed lie.
And young affection gapes to be his heir.
That fair for which love groaned for and would die,
With tender Juliet (matched,) is now not fair.
Now Romeo is beloved and loves again,
Alike bewitched by the charm of looks,
But to his foe supposed he must complain,
And she steal love’s sweet bait from fearful hooks.
Being held a foe, he may not have access
To breathe such vows as lovers use to swear,
And she as much in love, her means much less
To meet her new beloved anywhere.
But passion lends them power, time means, to meet,
Temp’ring extremities with extreme sweet. (2. Chorus.1-14)
What Light Through
Yonder Window Breaks?
(Literary Devices)
Act I Puns
Vocabulary with double meanings
An important way of communicating complex meanings
I strike quickly, being moved.
But thou art not quickly moved to strike.
A dog of the house of Montague moves me.
To move is to stir, and to be valiant is to stand.
Therefore if thou art moved, thou runnest away.
A dog of that house shall move me to stand.
(“moved” = provoked, action of moving)
Came more and more and fought on part and part,
Till the Prince came, who parted either part. (116,117)
(“part” – separate, each side)
Act II Alliteration
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
(Prologue, 5)
Gregory, on my word we’ll not carry coals.
No, for then we should be colliers.
I mean, an we be in choler, we’ll draw.
Ay, while you live, draw your neck out of collar.
Act III Similes, Metaphors,
Describe characters through characteristics
shared with (objects)
Thy head is as full of quarrels as an egg is full of meat (3.1.23)
“It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear (1.5.52-53)
I will make thee think thy swan a crow. (1.2.94)
This precious book of love, this unbound lover,
To beautify him only lacks a cover. (1.3.93-94)
Madam, an hour before the worshiped sun
Peered forth the golden window of the east, (1.1.120,121)
Act IV Juxtaposition
Contrasting emotions follow closely
Unfold the imagined happiness that both
Receive in either by this dear encounter.
I do protest I never injured thee. (3.1.72)
Away to heaven, respective lenity,
And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now!
(Joy changes to Fear, which changes to Madness)
Act V Foreshadowing
I dreamt a dream tonight. (1.4.53)
O, I am Fortune’s fool! (3.1.142)
I fear too early, for my mind misgives
Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date (1.4.113-115)
O, God, I have an ill-divining soul! (3.5.54)
Act VI
You kiss by th’ book. 1.5.122
Gregory, on my word we’ll not carry coals. (1.1.1)
(be humiliated)
A man, young lady—lady such a man
As all the world—why, he’s a man of wax. (1.3.82)
(a perfect man as if sculpted by an artist )
Act VII Stage Directions
Scene 1 Motions
Part, fools. Put up your swords. (1.1.65)
Hark, how they knock! – Who’s there? Romeo,
Here, sir, a ring she bade me give you,
Scene II
I do bite my thumb, sir. (1.1.47)
Scene III Facial Expressions
I will frown as I pass by… (1.1.41)
Scene IV Implied Directions
Here comes the furious Tybalt back again.
Go then, for ‘tis in vain
To seek him here that means not to be found.
But he that hath the steerage of my course
Direct my (sail). On, lusty gentlemen.
Strike, drum. (1.4.119-121)
All’s Well that Ends Well
Outline for an 8-week Course
Text: Romeo and Juliet (The New Folger Library:
Washington Square Press.1992)
ISBN 0671722859
Week 1
Introduce Shakespeare, his importance, his works, and
his world
 Discuss Shakespearean grammar, language, and literary
 Explain the use of the daily journal in which students:
 Explain the meanings of unfamiliar vocabulary
 Take class notes
 Write their reflections and opinions about the
readings and discussions
 Write their questions to be asked in the next class
 Read “Shakespeare’s Life” ( text pp xxv-xxxiii)
Week 2
Read “Shakespeare’s Language” (text pp xvi-xxiv)
Find samples of puns, metaphors, similes, foreshadowing
in Prologue and Act I
Introduce the Tudor family history
Read, analyze, paraphrase the Prologue, making journal
Discuss modern idioms and their use in translating
Shakespearean scenes into everyday conversations: “a
little too late” and “bad vibes”
Assign research paper on character comparison – due
beginning of Week 6
Five paragraph expository essay
Note cards, Outline, Quotes, Footnotes, Bibliography
Week 3
Read Acts 1 and 2, making journal entries
Listen to both acts in class (Shakespeare, W.,Romeo and Juliet,
Arkangel Shakespeare, LearnOutLoud, 2002, ISBN 1932219706)
Analyze theme of “Light and Dark”
Discuss Queen Elizabeth and her siblings
Draw Act 1 Scene 1
Draw Act 2 Scene 6
Find research paper sources and develop a thesis with supporting
Discuss modern idioms and their use in translating Shakespearean
scenes into everyday conversations: “from the frying pan into the
fire” and “up the creek without a paddle”
Week 4
Discuss Elizabethan England
Societal norms
Women’s Rights
Anne Boleyn
Catherine of Aragon
Lady Jane Grey
Formation of the Church of England
Assign oral presentations on Elizabethan England or members of the Tudor family
due Week 5
Read Act 3, making journal entries
Listen to Act 3
Analyze the theme of “Time”
Make a time line with artwork of main plot events
Turn in research paper outline
Discuss modern idioms and their use in translating Shakespearean scenes into
everyday conversations: “You can pick your friends, but not your family.”
Week 5
Make oral presentations assigned Week 4
Read Act 4, making journal entries
Listen to Act 4
Analyze the theme of “Generational Conflict”
Introduce Sonnets: Prologue
Submit research paper rough draft
Discuss modern idioms and their use in
translating Shakespearean scenes into everyday
conversations: “Good intentions pave the road to
Week 6
Read Act 5, making journal entries
Listen to Act 5
Discuss how the words “tragic heroes”,
“tragedies”, “inexorable”, and “hubris” apply to
the play
Submit research paper final draft
Draw Act 5 Scene 3
Write an obituary for Romeo and Juliet as a
Discuss George Bernard Shaw’s comment,
“Youth is wasted on the young.”
Week 7
Rewrite research paper incorporating corrections
 Write an in-class expository essay in preparation for final
 Find examples of juxtaposition, alliteration, and
 Analyze the theme of “Fate and the Wheel of Fortune”
 Review themes: “Light and Dark”, “Generational
Conflict”, “Time”, “Fate and the Wheel of Fortune”
 Read and discuss sonnets:
“Ozymandias” by Percy B. Shelley
“Purgatory” by Maxine Kumin
Week 8
Make study sheets by reviewing journals
 Translate “Ozymandias” into a current
event news story
 Translate “Purgatory” into everyday
 Final test
The Tempest in an Ipod
Act I
Library purchases (3) Ipods
($140 each approx)
Act II
Library buys BBC downloads of Romeo &
Juliet, the Tempest from I Tunes
($9.95-$12.95 each, including music &
sound effects)
stores them on a private drive.
Act III Students check out the audio
Scene I The audio is downloaded onto a
library Ipod, which the student checks out.
It has a renewal/ return date. Content is
erased when the Ipod is returned.
Scene II The audio is downloaded onto
a student’s Ipod, with a renewal/ return
date. Content is erased at the conclusion
of student use.
Act IV
Scene I Students use their own
Scene II Teachers use the Ipod to
broadcast to the entire class using a
standard headphone jack connected
to a stereo or boombox.
Can the video Ipod be far behind?
(Campus Life- Library- new mp3s)
(Campus Life-Library-Ipod policy)