Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Language of Shakespeare

Cynthia Youngblood
Santa Rosa District Schools


In small groups, students write and dramatize a scene using Elizabethan language.


The student drafts and revises writing that -is focused, purposeful, reflects insight into the writing situation;-conveys a sense of completeness and wholeness with adherence to the main idea;-has an organizational pattern that provide for a logical progression of ideas;-has support that is substantial, specific, revelant, concrete, and/or illustrative;-demonstrates a commitment to and an involvement with the subject;-has clarity in presentation of ideas;uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the purpose of the paper;demonstrates a command of language (word choice) with freshness of expression;has varied sentence structure and sentences that are complete except when fragments are used and purposefully; andhas few, if any, convention errors in mechanics, usage, and punctuation.

The student acknowledges the feelings and messages sent in a conversation.

The student demonstrates an awareness that language and literature are primary means by which culture is transmitted.

The student selects language that shapes reactions, perceptions, and beliefs.


-Literature book
-Handout of Elizabethan words and phrases


1. Make copies of -The Language of William Shakespeare- for students.


1. As part of the introduction to a unit on William Shakespeare, the teacher should have a discussion on the importance of understanding the language of Shakespeare. The meanings of many of the Elizabethan words and expressions may be strange to the students but would be familiar to people living in Shakespeare’s day.

2. Point out that if William Shakespeare were here today, walking around on campus, that he would understand most of the conversations that he overheard but would not understand some of the phrases that now have different connotations, such as -My mother is going to have a cow- or newly coined words, such as laptop, bytes, etc.

3.Have students write and later share ten words or phrases that William Shakepeare would have difficulty understanding. (I always remind them not to list anything that would be controversial or profane.)

4.Call on each student to share words or phrases.

5.Divide class into small groups of four or five students and asks them to write a scene involving a conflict, which consists of twenty lines of dialogue, using some of Shakespeare’s language. (See attached file for -The Language of Shakespeare-.)


1. Informal assessment of dialogue by teacher

2. Each group’s scene is evaluated by the teacher using the following criteria:

a. is focused, purposeful, and reflects insight into the writing situation,
b. acknowledges the feelings and messages sent in a conversation, and
c. demonstrates an awareness that language and literature are primary means by which culture is transmitted.


Students could do this as an individual assignment instead of group work.

Attached Files

File Attachment.     File Extension: pdf

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