Here at NoSweatShakespeare we always strive to present Shakespeare as exciting and relevant… However, as children and young people all around the world are obliged to encounter his plays as part of their formal education, teachers and students are forever looking for resources that will give them a better understanding of the texts.
During the past twenty years there has been a major effort by the world’s English teachers to find or invent ways of having fun with Shakespeare in English lessons.
I read recently that politicians in England have criticised teachers for accepting ‘text-speak’ in English assignments. When I looked into it a bit more I found that politicians in the United States, Australia and New Zealand have expressed a similar horror at the idea.
But what could be more relevant to the modern teenager?
Here’s a challenge for you. Read these pieces of text-speak and see if you can place them. I think Shakespeare would smile if he could see them.
‘2 b, r nt 2 b dat iz d Q wthr ts noblr n d mnd 2 sufr d slngs & arowz of outrAjs fortn r 2 tAk armz agnst a C f trblz, & by oposn nd em?’
‘2mrw & 2mrw & 2mrw crEpz n dis pety plAs frm dA 2 dA 2 d lst silabl of rcrdd tIm & al our ystdAz hv lItd f%lz d way 2 dsty def…tis a tAl tld by an ejit, ful of snd & fury sgnfyn nutin.’
‘bt, sft! wot lIt thru yndr wndo brAkz? Ts d Est, & Juliet iz d sn. ArIs, fair sn, & kil d envios m%n, hu iz alredi sk & pAl w grEf, dat thou hr mAd art fr mo fair thn she.’
‘& gntlmn n Englnd, nw a-bed shl fnk thmslvs acrsd dey wr not hr, & hld thr mnh%dz chEp whl NE spk dat fort w us on St Crspns dA’
I’ll give you a clue. They come from Henry V, Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. (not in that order, though)
I don’t care what the politicians think. Most of them can’t use text-speak but the students they are critcising can speak and write ‘proper’ English so they have an additional language that their critics don’t. And translating Shakespeare into text-speak is not only fun but makes them concentrate unwittingly on the language of Shakespeare. It’s an English teacher’s dream come true!!