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English Detective #6, What Shakespeare did for English, Feb. 11, 2013.
February 10, 2013

English Detective #6, What Shakespeare did for English, Feb. 11, 2013


Readings and Practice Activities: (I’ve suggested days for each activity, so you can do a little each day. Feel free to do each activity when it’s best for you.)

(1st Monday): Introducing this issue

(Tuesday): The Evolution of English (with quite a bit on Shakespeare.)

(Wednesday): A crossword puzzle with all this issue’s vocabulary

(Thursday): A reading to introduce Shakespeare

(Friday): A few explanations and some practice with this issue’s vocabulary (“A Range of Writing Words.”)

2nd week (Monday): A word-lover’s appreciation of Shakespeare

(Tuesday): Part 2: more on Shakespeare’s Contributions

(Wednesday): A graphic with some of the phrases and idioms Shakespeare gave English.

(Thursday): Some idioms from Shakespeare and a chance to practice them.

(Friday): Adjective Opposites Matching Game, with some of the words we have studied.

A P.S. added in 2015 with some very useful new resources.

Monday-- Introducing this issue:

Tuesday and Thursday there are two articles with audio from the Voice of America website. The first is on the development of modern English (which owes a lot to Shakespeare), and the second is an introduction to Shakespeare and his plays. Wednesday and Friday you can practice the new AWL words for this issue with a crossword and then some fill-ins on Writing Words and Shakespeare’s plays.

Next Monday and Tuesday there are two short articles with more information on Shakespeare’s contributions to English. (It seems these links no longer work in 2014, and I could not find good substitutes. Just take a break and move on to Thursday!)

Wednesday’s link is to a graphic that shows a few of the many of the idioms and phrases Shakespeare invented. (See Wednesday below for an explanation of some of them, and Thursday’s article and practice for more.)

Friday’s matching game is not a quiz, since quite a lot of the content is new. Seven of the words are from this issue; about half the rest are from earlier lessons. We will be studying many of the others in the next few issues. At least one (and sometimes both) words of an opposite set are from the AWL families.

On the second page, just before the answers, there are several paragraphs to demonstrate some of the ones we haven’t practiced yet, as a reminder if you have seen them before or a help for guessing them. They are at the bottom so they will not get in your way if you want to do the matching without clues. Feel free to read them if you need a hint or two.

P.S. 6-2-15 Since writing this newsletter, I have learned about several helpful resources for introducing Shakespeare to ESL (and other) students. See the discussion in newsletter 52, or this link from The British Council. It also links to the best of the others.

Your First Clue: Vocabulary we’ll Emphasize in this Issue

chapter, conflict, couple, decline, deny, distinction, edition, globe, identical, intensity, manipulation, negative, paragraph, positive, prime, range, restricted, role, section, site, sought, stress, style, survived, tension, topic.

If you already know most of the words, work on the ones you aren’t so sure of, or enjoy the readings and take a break from intensive study this week. There will be a whole different group in the new newsletter.


Click here for an article on how the development of English.


Right-click here to download a crossword practicing this issue’s vocabulary and here for the answers.

Click here for the VOA reading about Shakespeare.


Click here for the Writing Words explanations and fill-ins.

2nd Monday-- skip to some explanations of phrases from Shakespeare, and then to Thursday, as the links don't work anymore in 2014.

A few explanations of terms Shakespeare introduced:

To ‘fight fire with fire’ is to use the same tactics as the enemy. (Often firefighters will set a controlled “backfire” to make a firebreak (a cleared area that stops an uncontrolled fire as there is no fuel ahead of it.)

To ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’ is to expose your feelings (so everyone can see them.)

When something or someone has ‘seen better days,’ it is old and worn: its best days are already past.

‘Come what may’ means that something will not change, whatever happens. A friend might express his devotion by saying. “I’ll be your friend forever, come what may.”

To ‘break the ice’ is to get a relationship started, as fishermen need to make a hole in the ice before fishing in a frozen lake. “Icebreakers” are often getting-to-know-you activities for a class or business group who don’t know each other but will need to work together.

‘Fair play’ is honest, fair dealing, whether in sports or business. ‘Foul play’ is dishonest or sneaky or violent behavior-- breaking the rules and doing wrong to get an advantage.

Thursday 2:

Click here for an explanation of more of those idioms, along with some practice.

Friday 2:

Right-click here to download the Advanced Adjective Opposites Matching Game pdf. Remember, you probably won’t know all the new ones, but I suspect you can guess quite a few. (Use the paragraphs at the bottom for clues if you’d like.)

Coming in the next issues: Aspects of (ways of thinking about) Creativity, Thinking and Learning, and several articles on the brain and its development (in children and adults.)

In case you missed these: Earlier issues of English Detective have articles on a number of topics, plus practice with over 150 words from the Academic Word List. You can check them out with the link to the back issues page below (or find what words were practiced in each issue here.

P.S. If you’re not already getting English Detective, you can subscribe by completing the form here. (It's free!)

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