How to Teach Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s most popular and enduring plays...but that doesn’t mean your students will want to endure it! How can you overcome negative or defeatist attitudes about Shakespeare and his works? Follow these 8 easy steps to help your students understand and appreciate Romeo and Juliet.
1) Consider using modern translations along with the original. You will find an eText of Romeo and Juliet with a side-by-side translation right here on eNotes. Be sure to stress to students that they are to use the translation as support for reading the original, not as a substitute. They will find that the original gets much easier to read with practice.
2) Define the term “star-crossed lovers.” Fate will never allow Romeo and Juliet to live happily ever after. The minute Romeo and Juliet meet, their relationship is doomed to end tragically. Students need to understand how being “star-crossed” sealed their destiny. This fact will allow students to make sense of this senseless tragedy.
3) Assign small research projects. What did women wear during Elizabethan times? What did young people do for fun? How and when did young ladies and gentlemen enter the courting process? Students may work individually or in small groups and present their finding to the class. Once they have an overview of the time period, the dynamics of the Montague and Capulet families will come alive, and Romeo and Juliet’s relationship will become less foreign.
4) Add creative and fun activities to your teaching unit. Romeo and Juliet is a story that will certainly appeal to high school students. Once your students understand the themes, characters, and story line of the play, they are ready to write creative projects or perhaps even compile an original soundtrack to accompany a new version of Romeo and Juliet. Ask your students to brainstorm other projects that appeal to their creative interests.
5) Have students act out a variety of scenes. Ask for a volunteer “Romeo” and “Juliet” to act out the balcony scene. Choose a student to become the Nurse, who is charged with delivering Juliet’s heartfelt message to Romeo. After all, plays are written to be performed!
6) Instruct students to annotate and react. Active reading is the key to comprehension. Using...
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