For some people, Shakespeare is a joy to read and understand and they find ways to relate his stories to today’s society. But, for many students who have to study Shakespeare, it can feel like a chore and like learning another language!
So, how to start with understanding the Shakespeare play you are studying?
Many of you will be given numerous notes when you start to study Shakespeare and large A3 grids from your teachers to set out quotes and meanings from the text. Many of these notes can be difficult to get your head around and so I have found that some simple mind-mapping has helped many students over the years that I have taught English and revision skills for English.
I have focused on information about Romeo and Juliet.
1. Know the story
The story is the best thing about Shakespeare. Even if you are unsure what the sentences mean, if you know what is happening in each section then you are part way there!
How do I find out what the story is?
There are some very good websites, videos and books available that have the key information easily available and some show the stories in a cartoon form.
These are just some to have a look at.
Once you feel OK with the story then some simple mind maps can help you remember about the story and the characters in the story.
2. Keeping it simple: Learning about the characters
Character mind maps—setting out the key information in a simple layout will help you to remember about the characters. Here are some pointers:
1. Drawing out your own mind map helps with the remembering process rather than using a format that is already printed.
2. Keep a simple layout, try not to have lines and arrows all over the page
3. Use bullet points
4. Keep the same layout for each character—this helps you to picture in your mind where certain information is and helps with your memory.
5. If you don’t like to set out a mind map around the page you can always set out the information in a linear style (down the page)
Want some help to study Shakespeare?
You can contact Kay here via our Tutors page.
Kay is one of our most experienced tutors. She has a Master’s Degree in Education and has been Head of Department in a large college. You can find out more about Kay, and The Tutor Team, on our Facebook page.