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Shakespeare extracts

Paul Kaye, British Council

This worksheet for learners at an intermediate level and above is based on extracts from four plays by William Shakespeare

  • Hamlet
  • Henry V
  • As You Like It
  • The Merchant of Venice

It is designed to show the learners how Shakespeare's words are used in modern English, and to teach them a little about the plays the extracts are from. It also aims to show learners how accessible Shakespeare's language and ideas can be.

The worksheet could be used as a stand-alone exercise, to practise the target vocabulary, or as an introduction to more extensive work on Shakespeare. The extracts have been chosen because they are easy to understand and applicable to modern contexts.

Prepare enough photocopies of the worksheet for each learner to have a copy.

Worksheet with answers >> 77k


  • Ask the learners what they know about William Shakespeare. Elicit the names of any plays or quotations they know.
  • Put the learners into small groups. Hand out the worksheets and ask them to work through the tasks.
  • Monitor the groups closely to make sure they don't get put off by any unusual language.
  • Check the answers to each exercise with the whole class as the learners complete it.
  • Task 1 requires the learners to choose the right word for a gap in each quotation.
  • Task 2 requires them to match the quotation to a modern context.
  • Task 3, where learners are required to match the extracts to plays, is the most difficult as the connections may not be obvious.
  • Be ready to do this exercise open class, and fairly quickly, if the learners are becoming de-motivated. It could also be useful to research the plays in more depth before the class so you can provide more information.