It's easy to be intimidated when teaching Shakespeare. There are so many different ways to approach the Bard's work that it's hard to find the best methods for your classroom. We've gathered some of the best approaches other teachers are using to help their students learn to love Shakespeare.

Have your own? Share it in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you!

1. Teaching through performance

Shakespeare was written to be seen and heard—not only to be read. There's no better way to make students love Shakespeare than to get them to see the play in a natural setting. If you can't see a show live, playing a movie (or even just clips from a movie) can make the play more relevant and exciting—especially if there's a favorite star in it!

2. Focusing on specific elements and key lines

A common complaint students have about Shakespeare is that “he's too wordy” or “I just don't get what he's saying.” When you actually dig into his language, though, you see that he's actually quite concise. There's so much depth to Shakespeare that sometimes you just have to zoom in on a few specific elements to show your students how much there is to explore. Getting up close and personal with a key speech or soliloquy and examine it in depth. Once they realize how much he's saying in a few lines, or even in a few words, they'll come to appreciate his genius.

3. Stage 5-Minute Plays

Nothing helps students take ownership more than letting them be creative, so why not have them produce their own versions of the plays? Every play put on stage is abridged in some way, so allow them to write an extreme version!

Have your students develop quick, fun 5-minute versions of the play you're studying. They can use cut-up portions of the original text or they can make up their own dialogue. In either case they'll have a great time, and they'll be creating something new!

4. Shakespeare as a Window to Literary Theory and Elements

There's a reason that Shakespeare's plays are still being read 400 years after his death—they're jam-packed with literary quality! Teaching Shakespeare's plays is the perfect opportunity to explore literary techniques and literary theory.

Take a look at the Prestwick House Multiple Critical Perspectives Guides for an easy way to introduce critical perspectives like feminist theory or New Historicism for your favorite plays, or focus on the language that Shakespeare used with Rhetorical Devices in Shakespeare PowerPoints.

5. Maximize student understanding with Side By Side Editions

When students first approach Shakespeare, they need to understand the plot before they dig into everything else. One way to help make sure students get the most out of the plays is to use an edition that includes original text right next to an easier-to-understand modern "translation." Students can either read the original text and use the updated version to clarify difficult passages or read the updated text and work with the original language in class.

6. Audio Read Alongs

Shakespeare plays aren't meant to drag on for weeks. Helping students pick up the pacing while reading is one of the best ways to get them to enjoy the plays. If you play an audio performance of Shakespeare's plays while students are reading along, they won't get bogged down in the text, and they'll have a much better time following the plays.

7. Set the play in a new time

Watch some of the most popular film versions of Shakespeare and you'll see many, like DiCaprio's Romeo and Juliet, Hawke's Hamlet, or McKellen's Richard III that are set in modern times. This isn't a new trend. For over 100 years, directors have been staging Shakespeare in their own times and setting them in places that the Bard would never even have dreamt of. Ask your students to come up with a unique setting, and as you read, discuss how they would put on the play in a science fiction, Old West, or modern-day setting. Break down how various scenes would have to be filmed or changed to deal with potential anachronisms or other difficulties: Maybe Lysander and the three lovers are hypnotized; possibly, Julius Caesar is the CEO of Rome Industries. You'll be amazed how engaged your students will be!

Literary Touchstone Classics

No matter how you're planning on teaching the plays, the most affordable way to bring Shakespeare to your classroom is with Prestwick House Literary Touchstone Classics. Designed by teachers for teachers, each book includes line numbers, reading pointers, and a special educators' discount that can keep prices as low as $0.99 per book!

Looking for more tips on teaching Shakespeare?

Visit the English Teacher's Free Library to download our free eBook 10 Strategies for Understanding Shakespeare.