If your students are struggling to understand William Shakespeare's language, try this translation activity. This is a great lesson to teach before jumping into one of The Bard's plays to help familiarize students with the foreign, circa 1600's English.
This handout asks students to look closely at each line in Shakespeare's famous Sonnet 18 and translate the line into modern-day English. The PDF here includes both the handout AND my answer key.
I typically do this activity right after a quick lecture about the form and structure of a sonnet. I enjoy seeing them work hard to figure out each line... you can frame it like a "puzzle," so there's a bit of competition involved. When students are finished with their translation, we go over the sonnet as a class and discuss. I like it because the students see that they don't need to rely on internet translations of Shakespeare to understand his texts... they just need to decipher each line.
Happy translating! Let me know how it works for you and your classes :)
Keywords: Shakespeare; William Shakespeare; sonnet; sonnet 18; poetry; translation