I am currently student teaching, and am planning my lessons for "The Importance of Being Earnest." Any suggestions for teaching the play?

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parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Enotes has some great material on the subject, if you have an enote pass!

I taught this play to second language learners, who found the puns difficult to understand. I printed out a sheet with some explanation of the more quippish ones in advance to give them a head start before they began reading.

There is a film of the play which is filmed in the spirit of a stage production. It is quite old-fashioned but is more appropriate this way than a more modern version, I think. You could show it in parts or pick out just some favourite scenes and view them with your students, then discuss.  For native speakers, a few students could try to act out a scene or two before the rest of the class. You could have three or four workshops, have each group present a scene, then have the class vote on which group gave the best performance.

You could challenge a more advanced class to write some original word plays or puns which sound "Wildeish" but in a more modern way. Another interesting sidelight would be a presentation on Wilde's "wild" side, including the rather outlandish clothing fad he started at the time. Include some of his other famous quotes, such as his retort when questioned at customs:

"I have nothing to declare but my genius."

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The Importance of Being Earnest

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