Shakespeare Speaks

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Explore the English language through the phrases, plays and personality of William Shakespeare.

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Shakespeare Speaks is a brand new series of 20 animated shorts, each looking at a popular English phrase or expression, as coined by William Shakespeare yet still very much used today. The English language is brought to life, explained and practised by The Bard himself with the help of a cast of imagined characters including his actor friends and ditzy daughter. Modern day examples and celebrity quotes are showed alongside snippets from plays such as The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet as well as interesting information about Shakespeare's life and times.

Watch the episodes | Discover Shakespeare's language

Each episode explains the meaning and use of a well-known modern English expression that appeared in Shakespeare’s work, such as: "The world’s mine oyster", "A tower of strength", "In a pickle" and "All that glisters is not gold". For non-native speakers of English, the series is particularly suitable for learners of English at intermediate level (CEF B1) and above.

Learning and teaching English as a second language - click to see more

What do these famous people have in common with William Shakespeare? Thierry Henry, Bob Marley, Liam Hemsworth. Copyrighted image Copyright: BBC Learning English Shakespeare Speaks is produced by BBC Learning English in partnership with The Open University, with a new episode made available every Friday for 20 weeks. Supplementary quizzes, games and activities that reinforce the educational aspect of the materials are provided on the BBC Learning English website, and OpenLearn will have exclusive additional content and behind the scenes video. Social media conversations give the chance to practice language in action using the #ShakespeareSpeaks hashtag on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Discover Shakespeare's language

Discover Shakespeare's language

English: past

English: present

Explore Shakespeare

It's all Greek to me

Visit the BBC's Learning English pages for more activities related to this video.

Episodes in this series

Episode Description
As dead as a doornail Who's dead?! Thomas Swann gets a shock... luckily, it's just a line from a play! Read more
I'll send him packing! Thomas, it's packing… I'll send him packing… Not packaged. You're not putting him in a box or parcel! Read more
All that glisters is not gold William Shakespeare’s daughter gets a shock when her finger turns green - and Will takes the opportunity to teach her... Read more
Strange bedfellows Music, magic and monsters! We learn how to use the phrase strange bedfellows from The Tempest - and lots of other... Read more
Though this be madness, yet there is method in't! Maggoty dogs and crabs walking backwards teach us about the phrase 'though this be madness, yet there is method in't'... Read more
Wild goose chase Are they chasing geese – or horses? We learn all about the phrase wild-goose chase from William Shakespeare's Romeo... Read more
What's done is done - get over it! Everyone's feeling guilty – except William Shakespeare. We show you how to use the phrase what's done is done from... Read more
The world's mine oyster Meet Queen Elizabeth, her favourite explorer and 'The Real Housewives Of Shakespeare Speaks' while you learn how to... Read more
A tower of strength What's in a name? We show you how to use the phrase a tower of strength - and bring you some useful phrases for... Read more
Spotless reputation Queen Elizabeth isn't very happy today! We show you how to use the phrase 'spotless reputation' from William... Read more
The green-eyed monster William Shakespeare and Thomas Swann are enjoying a drink - or three - in their favourite pub. While they get drunk,... Read more
In a pickle King James enjoys a bit of pickle with his dinner while he watches William Shakespeare's The Tempest. Read more
Forever and a day Everyone's in disguise in William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew - but William's daughter isn't hiding her... Read more
Mum's the word Ssshhhh… it's a secret! It's William Shakespeare's birthday and there's a surprise in store for him. Read more
A pound of flesh King James needs to stay awake during this performance of The Merchant of Venice to find out why Shylock is talking... Read more
A fool's paradise Is Robert Harley really going to put a ring on Janet Bassett's finger? Or is Janet living in a fool's paradise? We'll... Read more
Not budge an inch William Shakespeare and actor Thomas Swann have a disagreement. Can Bess the barmaid make Thomas see sense, or will... Read more
Cruel to be kind The Queen is taking King James' wine away, but is she being cruel... or kind? Learn how to use the phrase cruel to be... Read more
Wear my heart on my sleeve William Shakespeare's daughter has fallen in love... again. But should she wear her heart on her sleeve - or keep her... Read more
It's all Greek to me Old Mother Howard predicts the future, but William Shakespeare's daughter is confused! We'll help you use the phrase... Read more