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Flipping Over Romeo and Juliet! Translating Shakespeare Into Standard American English

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Keywords: English, Movie Maker, Movie, Script, Translation, Flip Video, Shakespeare, scene
Subject(s): Grammar, Spelling, English/Language Arts, Reading, Writing, Technology, Video, Drama
Grade 8
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Lakeside Middle School, Anderson, SC
Planned By: Rebecca Yoder
Original Author: Rebecca Yoder, Anderson
Materials Needed:

Copies of Romeo and Juliet, Flip Video Cameras, computers with Windows Movie Maker installed, LCD projector or television to show videos

Prior to lesson:

Prior to this lesson students must have read <i>Romeo and Juliet</i> in its entirety and have an understanding of what happens in the play.

Teacher will:

1. Show students a video clip of any appropriate film that uses subtitles.

2. Ask students what they notice. Ask, "What goes into the process of making a film like this one with subtitles? What is necessary?"

Guide students into discussion of necessary components for creating a video with subtitles. They should identify the following: the director had to understand the text to coach the actors in their movements and emotions and set up the camera shots, the actors had to understand the text to perform it with appropriate emotion and movement, the cameramen had to understand the text so that they knew when and where to move the camera, the writers who translated the text had to understand both languages and use appropriate words for the subtitles. All involved in the video whether on screen or behind the scenes had to be able to communicate with each other and work well with each other.

3. Explain that students will film a scene from Romeo and Juliet and insert subtitles. Provide students a list of scenes or scene segments they will analyze and perform. [Suggested: street brawl scene (I-i), balcony scene (II-ii), marriage between Romeo and Juliet (II-v), Romeo/Mercutio/Tybalt scene (III-i), Paris/Capulet scene (III-iv), Juliet/Friar Laurence scene with his plan for her fake death (IV-i), Juliet fakes her death (IV-iii), Apothecary/Romeo scene (V-i), Paris/Romeo fight (V-iii), Romeo makes decision to kill self/Juliet kills self to the end of play (V-iii)] The scenes can be cut as needed (teacher directed or approved) to suit student numbers. It is only critical that students work with the most major scenes in order to build a loose storyline.

4. Use a Shakespeare scene (suggested is a monologue or soliloquy from Romeo and Juliet) to show students how to break down the text and interpret it in their own words. Model how to rewrite the lines using modern Standard American English. Explain and model how to use the interpretation of the text to help make choices about character emotions and actions. Make sure to monitor students during this process to help them put Shakespeare into their own words.

5. Show students how to use a Flip camera to film the scene.

6. Show students how to download the file to use in Windows Movie Maker.

7. Show students how to put subtitles on their movies.

8. Show students how and where to save their movies.

9. Show student-created scenes with subtitles to class (remember to preview first!) These can also be uploaded to your website, too.

Students will:

1. View a movie with subtitles.

2. Make observations about the movie with subtitles.

3. Discuss what needs to be done in order to create a movie with subtitles and why a movie needs subtitles.

4. Form a group and select a scene from Romeo and Juliet to analyze.

5. Analyze scene as a group and rewrite it using modern Standard American English.

6. Film the scene using Flip cameras.

7. Download the files to Windows Movie Maker.

8. Put subtitles on each scene using their rewrites.

9. Save movies in the appropriate folder.

10.View and critique each others' work.

11.Reflect on their own scenes.


1. Accurate and appropriate subtitles

2. Video

3. Critique and/or reflections

Students can do another version of this activity later with another story in which they read a story and translate it into early modern English as used in the Elizabethan Era.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas

Extensions can be made to the performing and communication arts, social studies, physical education (dancing and fencing), and even science (for the apothecary scene).
Other teachers and students, parents, and community members can be asked to view and critique the movies.
Materials: Video Tools, English/Language Arts, Projectors, Integrating Technology, Flip Video, Mobile Labs