Lonely, laughable, fitful, inauspicious. What do these words have in common? For one thing, all might describe the perils of GCSE revision. But they are also all Shakespearian coinages. Shakespeare’s plays seem to have a way of getting in our heads and staying there. This week, we’re offering a few suggestions about how to make Shakespeare stick for your students in the run up to English Literature GCSE exams:
- Poetry in performance: Ask students to work out how many ways they can perform a crucial line. They could try singing it, rapping it or speaking it in a different accent. And if they laugh – so much the better! Memory expert Ed Cooke points out that making information unusual or amusing is much more effective than stale lists of quotations in aiding recollection.
- The ‘Protégé Effect’: The Roman philosopher Seneca noticed that ‘while we teach, we learn’. Research has shown that teaching others can help memory and recall. Ask students to pick a quotation from the play and explain it to a friend, identifying key linguistic features and how they work to create meaning.
- Little and often: Our nimbl app makes Shakespeare’s plays portable, so students can brush up on useful quotations while waiting for the bus or heading home from school. Exercise has also been proven to reduce anxiety, so suggest that students try learning key quotations on the move.