I’m no dummy but I’ll freely admit that trying to plow through Shakespeare in 10th or 11th grade was not my favorite task. I loved to read and always enjoyed a good story but the language of Shakespeare’s time was daunting to say the least.
I hear the same from my English teaching colleagues. Kids still have a tough time understanding it, which is why I immediately thought this video of The Three Little Pigs done by comedian John Branyan might be a great way to introduce the topic.
Branyan does a standup routine where he, among other things, translates the story of the three little pigs from the traditional tale into the way it would sound had Shakespeare written it. It’s easy to follow because kids will have the context of the story already. It’s short- 8 minutes or so- and has a punch line at the end that will make it worth the listen.
This could also be a lead in to a vocabulary building project outside of the Shakespearian realm. The monologue is full of synonyms and interesting phrasing. Perhaps students could take a familiar story and rewrite it, replacing common words with more flavorful ones, but without changing the essential meaning.
(A caveat- he does pull out a cigarette as a prop…but you can just use the audio if you prefer).
If nothing else, this video is an amusing semantic romp. Enjoy!