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National Strategy - Year 8

The key elements of the English Curriculum (Word Level, Sentence Level, Text Level reading and writing and Speaking and Listening) correspond to the Teaching Shakespeare worksheets in the following ways:

Word and Sentence level work is mostly covered in the Language section which examines how words and grammar have changed in the last 400 years. Exercises give students the chance to study unfamiliar words and work out meaning through context and relationship with known words. Some exercises also provide opportunity to consider how appropriate word choice is determined by context; many require use of dictionary and thesaurus. The section on Imagery explores the use of figurative language

Word and Sentence level work is mostly covered in the Language section which examines how words and grammar have changed in the last 400 years. Exercises consider how word order has altered since Shakespeare’s time, how some words have been lost and others acquired new meanings, how verb endings have changed, and how pronouns and prepositions were often different to today’s usage. This section gives students opportunity to invent new words and requires use of dictionary and thesaurus.

Text level reading and writing activities are to be found in the On paper or computer sections. Many of the suggested activities require students to research related cultural or historical issues, providing opportunity to develop research skills such as skim reading and note-taking. Equal emphasis is placed on creative composition with tasks ranging from writing poetry to sustained imaginative fiction. Where space allows, reminders are given of the need to draft, edit and evaluate, though it is assumed that such procedures are in any case routine.

Speaking and Listening activities are addressed in the Talking points section to be found on almost every worksheet. These provide opportunities to discuss issues arising from each topic. In some instances this might be in paired work, in others in small groups, sometimes informally and sometimes in formal debate.

Within the Speaking and Listening sphere, Drama has a particular focus. The In performance elements offer students the chance to enjoy Shakespeare as drama rather than a purely literary experience. Some drama activities work towards a straight delivery of original Shakespeare, but most are based on role play and some include mime and dance. Many also require students to consider practical aspects of stage production, such as lighting, the use of sound effects or props.

All of the elements of the English curriculum outlined below are covered by the Teaching Shakespeare worksheets. All the books contain the broad elements, but details will vary from play to play. Eg. The Twelfth Night teacher’s resource book has worksheets on puns and nonsense verse, but similar pages will not be found in Teaching Shakespeare: Macbeth, for obvious reasons.

Word level


Review and develop their ability to:

Appreciate the precise meaning of specialist vocabulary for each school subject, and use specialist terms aptly in their own writing;

Appreciate the impact of figurative language in texts;

Recognize how the degree of formality influences word choice;

Collect and comment on examples of language change, eg. new words associated with electronic communication, ICT.

Sentence level

Stylistic conventions and non-fiction

Know and use effectively the vocabulary featured in specific subjects during the current year;

Adapt the stylistic conventions of the main non-fiction text types to fit different audiences and purposes, eg. advertisements, documentaries, editorials;

Standard English and language variation

Understand the main differences between Standard English and dialectical variations;

Explore and use different degrees of formality in written and oral texts, eg. formal speeches;

Recognize some of the differences in sentence structure, vocabulary and tone between a modern English text and a text from another historical period;

Draw on their knowledge of other languages to identify some of the differences and similarities between those languages and English;

Text level – Reading

Research and study skills

Combine information from various sources into one coherent document;

Undertake independent research using a range of reading strategies, applying their knowledge of how texts and IT databases are organised;

Make notes in different ways, choosing a form which suits the purpose, eg. diagrammatic notes, making notes during a video.

Reading for meaning

Trace the development of themes, values or ideas in a text.

Understanding the author’s craft

Analyse the overall structure of a text to identify how key ideas are developed, eg. through the organization of the content and the patterns of language used;

Investigate the different ways familiar themes are explored and presented by different writers.

Study of literary texts

Read a substantial text (novel, play) revising and refining interpretations of subject matter, style and technique;

Recognize the conventions of some common literary forms, eg. sonnet, and explore how a particular text adheres to or deviates from established literary conventions;

Identify links between literary heritage texts and their times;

Recognize how texts refer to and reflect the culture in which they were produced, eg. in the evocation of place and values.

Text level writing

Write to imagine, explore, entertain

Develop the use of commentary and description in narrative, eg. by addressing the reader directly;

Experiment with figurative language in conveying a sense of character and setting;

Experiment with different language choices to imply meaning and to establish the tone of a piece, eg. ironic, indignant;

Develop an imaginative or unusual treatment of familiar material or established conventions, eg. updating traditional tales;

Experiment with presenting similar material in different forms and styles of poetry.

Write to inform, explain, describe

Organise and present information, selecting and synthesising appropriate material and guiding the reader clearly through the text, eg. a technological process, an information leaflet;

Describe an event, process or situation, using language with an appropriate degree of formality.

Write to persuade, argue, advise

Present a case persuasively, making selective use of evidence, using appropriate rhetorical devices and anticipating responses and objections;

Develop and signpost arguments in ways that make the logic clear to the reader.

Write to analyse, review, comment

Weigh different viewpoints and present a balanced analysis of an event or issue;

Integrate evidence into writing to support analysis or conclusions, e g. data, quotation;

Write a critical review of a substantial text, taking account of the context in which it was written and the likely impact on its intended readers.

Speaking and listening


Reflect on the development of their abilities as speakers in a range of different contexts and identify areas for improvement;

Tell a story, recount an experience or develop an idea, choosing and changing the mood, tone and pace of delivery for particular effect;

Make a formal presentation in Standard English, using appropriate rhetorical devices;

Provide an explanation or commentary which links words with actions or images, eg. talking to a sequence of images;

Ask questions to clarify understanding and refine ideas.


Listen for a specific purpose, paying sustained attention and selecting for comment or question that which is relevant to the agreed focus;

Recognize the range of ways in which messages are conveyed, e g. tone, emphasis, status of speaker.

Group discussion and interaction

Use talk to question, hypothesise, speculate, evaluate, solve problems and develop thinking about complex issues and ideas;

Recognize and build on other people’s contributions;

Take different roles in discussion, helping to develop ideas, seek consensus and report the main strands of thought.


Develop the dramatic techniques that enable them to create and sustain a variety of roles;

Explore and develop ideas, issues and relationships through work in role;

Collaborate in, and evaluate, the presentation of dramatic performances, scripted and unscripted, which explore character, relationships and issues.

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