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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: September ::
Teaching Shakespeare to ESL Students
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0810  Tuesday, 19 September 2006

From: 		Lysbeth Benkert-Rasmussen <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 19 Sep 2006 11:34:09 -0500
Subject: 17.0803 Teaching Shakespeare to ESL Students
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0803 Teaching Shakespeare to ESL Students

I was a little dismayed to see that so many folks endorsed using stories 
about Shakespeare rather than the plays themselves in order to teach ESL 
students.

We have a growing exchange program at our school with a Korean 
university.  Many of these students are English majors at their home 
school, and want to take as many English courses as they can while they 
attend an English-speaking institution.  As you may expect, however, 
their English language skills are limited in comparison to a native speaker.

Last semester I had three of these students take my 400-level 
Shakespeare course.  Yes, they struggled.  Yes, their first test scores 
were much lower than they had hoped.  However, with the help of a tutor 
and a lot of hard work they became some of the top-scoring students by 
the end of the term.  They not only gained understanding of the plays, 
but brought to the class discussions a fascinating depth in their 
ability to draw parallels between the English Renaissance and Korean 
history and culture.

Two other Korean students actually performed minor (*very* minor) roles 
in the theater department's production of As You Like It.

I would not suggest substituting the original play texts with 
re-tellings-perhaps one might use them as a supplement, but not as a 
replacement.

Lysbeth Em Benkert

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