This resource serves as support for the introduction to Romeo and Juliet and the ongoing theme of love and hate as motivation for action. The first page of the resource is a stand-alone Skills Review lesson. Students review what it means to infer and they practice identifying and creating information that allows a reader to infer qualities about a character.
The lesson then has students view the opening scene in the marketplace and note observations they make about what the Capulets and Montagues do that reveal their qualities and reveal the state of their relationship with one another. After viewing what the characters do, students read the accompanying text to identify what characters say in the text that further supports their inferences.
An optional page is included that prompts students to create a visual that captures the concepts introduced in the first scene of the play. I have found that all learners, not just ELLs, can benefit from taking the time to organize their understanding of a text into a visual that will trigger their memory later on.
I have found that my classes of English Language Learners get excited when they find out that they are going to be reading Romeo and Juliet. They know it’s a famous play, so being expected to read it seems to give them a sense of “doing important work” that native speakers of English are expected to do.
The final page of the resource requires students to organize their information into an analysis paragraph, thereby communicating and supporting their inferences in writing.
Any play by Shakespeare brings the specific challenge for ELLs of complex language. (Shakespeare is hard enough for native English speakers!) While some teachers may find it downright blasphemous to use any text besides the original, I have found great success for my ELLs with a version specifically adapted for the ESL classroom. This simplified language allows ELLs to access the content of the play so they can practice the widely applicable reading skills of inferring information, examining how a thematic idea is built throughout a text, analyzing character relationships, and transferring a writer’s text from the page to the stage.