Understanding Shakespearean Language through Prior Knowledge and Context Clues

25 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT understand what words and phrases mean by how they are used in text; use context clues and reference material to understand the meanings of words in texts.

Big Idea

From then to now: Translating Shakespearean language into modern-day slang!

Lesson Introduction

How important is language to today’s society? Language is made up of words that can provide so much information about individuals or a particular region, culture, etc. William Shakespeare is infamous for using a language that is foreign to the eyes and ears of individuals today. But just think of how Shakespeare would feel if he traveled through time and heard the words or phrases used in modern-day societies. In this lesson, students will look at the language in a Shakespearean text to comprehend its meaning if used in today's society. 

Bell ringer: Question

7 minutes

To hook students into our lesson on language, the following prompt is on the whiteboard,

What is a saying or phrase in today’s society that William Shakespeare might not understand?

Students will be given time to think of something to share out aloud with the class. No matter how any student respond to the warm-up, there is distinct difference in the language that we use today and what was used centuries ago. In the work of Shakespeare that will be studied, students become familiar with language to understand a speaker's perspective on love. 

Guided Practice: Language Handout

15 minutes

Prior to indulging in our reading selection, there are some languages expressed through words and/or phrases that must be understood. Students will work with a partner to complete the Shakespeare language handout. Once students finish matching up the quote to the translation, I will ask them to highlight similar words in each example that justifies how they selected the correct answer. See a student language handout from this activity! From the quotes pulled from the text, students will begin to understand how Shakespearean language can be analyzed and translated into modern-day language. 

Independent Practice: Using Context Clues to Define Vocabulary in Acts

25 minutes

Since this lesson is designed to help students understand language of the Shakespearean text that will be read later on in class, we will end class by defining various vocabulary words in each act of the play. With a partner, students will complete the MidSummer act vocabulary handouts. Because we are looking at vocabulary words, students can use prior knowledge or context clues to identify meanings. Part two of the handout requires students to use a dictionary to match up denotative meanings of words. With the inclusion of part two on the handout, students can see how close their inferred meanings were to the actual dictionary meaning of a word.