As an English teacher with 25 years of experience, I have certainly heard my fair share of complaints from students who hate the idea of trying to read Shakespeare. I'm sure nearly every English teacher has heard this complaint at least once. Yet it is hard for me to arrive at many negative aspects concerning the importance of students being at least rudimentally introduced to the greatest writer of the English language. I believe every student, from the lowest to the highest levels of achievement, should read at least one Shakespearean play--preferably every year from middle through high school.
The biggest complaints I hear are that "the language doesn't make any sense" and "I don't understand it." Fifteenth and sixteenth century language is demanding, but that should not be a reason to avoid Shakespearean plays. The first-ever reading of a Shakespeare play will no doubt befuddle most young readers, but a good teacher will guide their students through the rough spots and be ready for an explanation of actions, intentions and language. Greater understanding is usually found with reading the material aloud; audio recordings of the plays assist comprehension; and the outstanding film versions available serve as the perfect supplement. I don't necessarily advocate large doses of Shakespeare for lower level English students, but honors students should understand that studying important works of literature is part of their undertaking, and there is still no writer more important than Shakespeare.