‘Lend me your ears’

I was asked by some colleagues at the University of Leicester to give pre-sessional students a short lecture on some aspects involving culture and language. This is  an overwhelmingly broad field. As some of those students are going on a study trip to Stratford-upon-Avon soon, and my teaching expertise is in Shakespeare/ Literature and language, we came to the conclusion that I should talk about ‘something related to Shakespeare’.

In my experience, most students – and tutors –  tend to see literature in general, and Shakespeare in particular, as something far too detached from the needs of learners of academic English. In some people’s views, reading literature is a luxury that most tutrs and students cannot afford because time is short and there are other  more pressing matters to be dealt with.

However, EAP students do not cease to be human beings and human beings can benefit a lot from any form of reading that opens up their minds, triggers their thinking and critical skills, and helps them become better readers and writers of any kind of text, including academic English.

My approach to this presentation was to try to show them that there is quite a lot of misconception about Shakespeare’s plays.  There are some ‘facts’ about Shakespeare’s language that really do not stand careful linguistic scrutiny. Above all, I wanted to show them that even without knowing  we are very likely to often  ‘meet’ Shakespeare in our everyday lives and how pervasive Shakespeare is in popular culture.

As I whole, I could still see some sort of skepticism there but the feedback was overwhelimingly positive. If I managed to make them curious and think about Shakepseare from a slightly different perspective then  I think I have done my job for the day.



12 thoughts on “‘Lend me your ears’

  1. It was an honor to lend you my ears today.
    There are noteworthy arguments about the difficulty of the language of Shakespearian’s plays. Neither the quantity or quality of words that he utilized or invented, nor the style of characters could be plausible explanations. Among many characteristics, Shakespearian’s language is an extraordinary example of creative assembling of simple words to express complex concepts.

  2. Hi Chris,
    Promised that I’d post this for the student who shared his summary with the class.
    “Shakespeare’s writing is not only difficult for international students but also for native speakers. In fact, there are some myths about Shakespeare’s writing, which can be explained in four aspects; quantity, invention, translation and style. According to lecturer, it could be said that the problem is not with Shakespeare’s language form but with ideas in his writing. Therefore, it is not difficult as people thought about it.”
    Think there’s going to be a run on Shakespeare from the bookshop!


    1. Hi Rachel. Thanks for this. I will tell Ed to get ready 🙂 🙂
      please tell your students if they would like some little bits of Shakespeare to start with in a gentle way, they can just ask me.
      xx Chris

  3. Thanks for sharing this with us… the slideshow looks great – lots of good info & interesting images. I especially like the way that you connected Shakespeare to the language that we use every day… which hopefully is interesting to our language learners out there 🙂

  4. Great slides Chris, love the link to popular culture and films! Really useful I think for students to realise these links, hellos them own the language a bit more , don’t you think? I see you squeezed in the ‘Maiden too 🙂

      1. Hi Emma
        I am glad you think so. Indeed, I think lit and popular culture are naturally connected, especially in the case of Shakespeare since in his time his plays were ‘popular culture’ 🙂
        It always helps to link content to something students can relate to, I think.


        PS: Maiden rules! 🙂

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