« Newcomer Centers Offer Much More Than Beginning English | Main | ELLs in 8th Grade Lose Ground on Math NAEP »

Innovation: Teaching Shakespeare to English-Learners


Christina Porter is a literacy coach at Revere High School in Massachusetts and she's co-taught William Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and "Midsummer Night's Dream" to classes of English-language learners.

She writes about how she made the plays accessible to ELLs in the September issue of English Journal, published by the National Council of Teachers of English. If you're a member of that organization, you can access the article, "Words, Words, Words: Reading Shakespeare with English Language Learners," online. The students who studied the plays were in grades 9-12 and had a level of English proficiency just below that in which they'd be considered able to succeed in a mainstream classroom.

One technique Porter used is a reading-comprehension strategy called "chunking." Students break a scene into segments based on its changes in emotion or action.

Another technique Porter used was to pick out important lines from a scene and write each one on an index card. The students read the lines aloud to their classmates. She then collects the cards and asks students to write down as many words or lines as they can remember, including their own line. The students predict what the scene is about.

Porter writes: "English language learners experiment with their second language every day. This was one of the initial reasons that I thought Shakespeare, a word artist and inventor of language, would be an ideal writer to use to further their exploration of English."

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments

  • Charles: ELLs in our state ARE required to take State standardized read more
  • Melissa: Maybe I'm just becoming jaded, but this feels to me read more
  • Anonymous: Are you kidding me....UNO is an organizaion that literally destroys read more
  • Meg Baker: Are any schools using ACCESS scores for purposes other than read more
  • Dr. Mendoza: This is great news i must say. Hopefully this DREAM read more