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British Council

Shakespeare

British Council via FutureLearn

Overview

Explore the English language through Shakespeare’s plays

William Shakespeare is the best-known and most-loved playwright in English history. So, what better way to improve your English language skills than through learning about the “Bard of Avon”? This introduction to Shakespeare explores his life in Elizabethan England. You’ll see some of the most famous Shakespeare plays, like Romeo and Juliet, brought to life by actors. Afterwards, you’ll discuss the plays’ key themes with the help of Shakespeare experts. You’ll learn about Shakespearean English, and will practice speaking (modern) English with your coursemates and tutors. This course will help you to understand why Shakespeare is so important in the history of English literature. ##Learn more about Shakespeare’s life and times Elizabethan England was a place of high drama and rapid change. This was also a time in which English theatre thrived and enjoyed great popularity. You’ll learn how Shakespeare’s life fitted into this background, following him from Stratford-upon-Avon to the famous Globe Theatre in London. #Explore key themes of famous Shakespeare plays No introduction to Shakespeare would be complete without looking at some of his work. You’ll explore some of his most famous and beloved works. Through these you’ll learn about Shakespearean English, and will discover the many new words that Shakespeare introduced to the English language. By the end of the course, you will understand why Shakespeare is so important, improving your English language skills along the way.

This British Council course is aimed at non-native English speakers who want to improve their English while learning about Shakespeare. It would best suit those with intermediate English language skills; B1 on the CEFR or equivalent.

Taught by

Anthony Cosgrove

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Reviews

4.8 rating, based on 429 reviews

Start your review of Shakespeare

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Great course! Here are some pros and cons: Pros: - Even though English is the only language I speak fluently, the clarity of the course was helpful in getting me to understand what was going on and I'm sure it was clear for English learners. - Captions...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    I have read Shakespeare at school. As I was going through the number of courses, I came across this course which took all of my attention. It is a nostalgia to read and see Shakespeare's various plays once again. I felt like being at school again and...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    As someone who knew really nothing of Shakespeare’s work I am really enjoying the course. Personally I think the story you tell that is a short summary of the story of each piece of work is too short. I have been watching some of the full length productions...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    I must confess that I really enjoy the course. I am a science student, So little I know about literature and Shakespeare. I do only come by Shakespeare phrases being probably quotes by literature scholars. But taking this course has widen my knowledge about Shakespeare legacies and his biography. However, this is the first time reading the story of romeo and Juliet. I often hear people uses the words " romeo and Juliet " while discussing something relating to love and I also often use it as famous love terms, but never had I read story sorrounding it and neither did I knew it was Shakespeare legacy. I have also being expose to new idioms that I will now be using to buttress my sentences or words. I'm very glad to take on the course.
  • Profile image for Danijela Milošević
    Danijela Milošević
    This course-Exploring English: Shakespeare-is a very interesting and useful experience for me. I improve English language skills of reading, writing and listening, and I learn a lot of amazing things about Shakespeare and his life, his family and his works. It passed just a half of the course and I can see a improvement and I can't wait for the other half. Educators, actors and other learners with their comments are so helpful!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This is a really awesome experience. Since we are experiencing the pandemic, I had the opportunity to share this classes step by step with my 15 years old daughter. At first, I invited her to check some of the topics or videos, but little by little she was hooked and at the end we finished together, sharing our points of view, debating and enjoying a lifetime experience we will treasure for the rest of our lives.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    Hy. My name is Paula Fabrícia, I'm from Brazil. I've studied Shakespeare since my high school and this course is a great opportunity to learn more and more about The Bardo. I'm a teacher and we have a cultural project in our school, named Shakespeare Week, our students love it and have fun to play Shakespeare to our comunity, it is a social project and helps many poor people with some donations. Than, this course has a special importance for me, it is pretty organized, good videos, important tips, what has been made me wake up everyday more exciting, we are in quarentine beacuse of the coronavirus, no school, no our old rotine, but it is important to go ahead and have positive thoughts.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    This course has been most insightful and goes to prove that you can always learn something new about the great man and/or his plays. Although I am not new to Shakespeare and his literary genius, this course is well structured, particularly as an introduction...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course has been most insightful and goes to prove that you can always learn something new about the great man and/or his plays. Although I am not new to Shakespeare and his literary genius, this course is well structured, particularly as an introduction...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course has helped me understand a bit more about the english culture and language.As Shakespeare is by far the most prolific english playright of all times studying Shakespeare's plays has been a great experience. Knowing deeply plays such as Romeo and Juliet,Macbeth,Hamlet,Much Ado about Nothing and The Tempest has made me realise all the richness of the language he used.I have learned many words and expressions Shakespeare used in his plays like star-crossed lovers,a fate worse than death or constant as the northern star.Also I enjoyed the virtual visit to the Globe Theater in London,it was like being in Shakespeare's time.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course has helped me understand a bit more about the english culture and language.As Shakespeare is by far the most prolific english playwright of all times studying Shakespeare's plays has been a great experience. Knowing deeply plays such as Romeo and Juliet,Macbeth,Hamlet,Much Ado about Nothing and The Tempest has made me realise all the richness of the language he used.I have learned many words and expressions Shakespeare used in his plays like star-crossed lovers,a fate worse than death or constant as the northern star.Also I enjoyed the virtual visit to the Globe Theater in London,it was like being in Shakespeare's time.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I have found two great things in this course.
    1 . Lively presentation of Shakespeare life and work and society, through videos and especially through competent actors and actresses who speak beautiful English. Because Shakespeare comes alive, the course is so effective.
    2. Great choice of key plays among Shakespeare's rich repertoire. I have learned so much about the last two comedies.
    Just one suggestion
    I think the course would be much more enjoyable if one more topic was added - Shakespeare's humour and laughter.
    Many thanks for the great learning that has taken place for me.
  • Anonymous
    I really enjoyed this course and I highly recommend it. The material is extremely interesting and the activities vary so that you always feel involved. The possibility of commenting at the end of each activity gives the learners a sense of community and makes the course interactive. It was the perfect way of revising Shakespeare and getting to know new details. Thanks a lot to all the experts and tutors and actors that have made it possible.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    The course is extremely engaging and helpful to give an overall view of Shakespeare works and life. What I appreciate, is listening to the comments of the actors, who can convey the gist of the plays they have interpreted. The course highlights Shakespeare's modernity and guides us to understand how close to our times his thoughts are. I also like reflections on how crosscultural his ideas are. Last but not least, the considerations about language are quite enlightening: I have discovered that a bunch of idioms and expressions we use in our daily life originate from his works.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    It´s very interesting because each learner can dig deeper depending on their interest. For me it means to go back to College times when I enjoyed Elizabethan drama so much. This course also provides me with excellent material to use with my English teenage students. The short clips by the British Council are excellent as introductions!
    Also, the information and links given by participants are very enriching and you can enlarge the learning experience as you want.
    I´ve already completed seven courses on Future Learn and I love it!
    Thank you very much.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    So far, I think it's just great. I'm a native speaker and I've already familiarized myself with Shakespeare for many years but for non-native speakers, i think it must be a little of a demystifying course for them. I think this course is quite accessible and removes that daunting aspect to learning the beginnings of William's great works. I wish all schools could have a course like this.
  • Anonymous
    An excellent course. It met all my expectations.

    Besides improving my English skills, I learned a lot about Shakespeare from many points of view: his life, his work, his contribution to the English language, ...

    The teachers are a great help. I liked it, especially the review that two of the teachers did at the end of each week. I found it very useful.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I only partially enjoyed the course. I had studied Shakespeare at school and had seen many of the plays performed at the theatre. i expected the course to delve deeply into each play but was disappointed that the educational standard was not higher. I enjoyed the first week about Shakespeare's life but found the links about language tedious and repetitive. The actors insights were fascinating
    I would like to study one play or the sonnets in depth. Where
    Overall 3/5 -- Could do better for me
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    For my is a very good cours. I am learning a lot, Very interesting. My level of english language is low, but after to stady abaout Sakaspeara I think thaht mi level impruve a lot. I am fron Spain and I am 67 years old and when I was young and I wentrat the university a stady some of the Sakaspeare`s plays. And now I enjoied a lot to remenber this plays. Thanks
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    For me it's the very first time to do an online course. I've signed in because of the confinements due to COVID 19 which all of a sudden provided me with an unexpected portion of free time, and my so far dull ignorance about Shakespeare. I didn't expect...

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