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.