Updated 09/28/2011 06:14 PM
Teacher writes adaptations for students learning Shakespeare
Remember trying to learn Shakespeare in high school? For many it was a tall task just trying to understand the language. But a local special education teacher has found a way that he says makes the Bard easier to read. As our Brian Dwyer reports, the students not only get better grades, but they're also have fun learning.
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ADAMS, N.Y. -- South Jefferson special education teacher David Andalora has just one question about teaching Shakespeare: Which is easier to understand? The original works or adaptations he wrote of them. His students pick the latter. The words written by their teacher.
"These books are written differently and translated to more readable English than what they had before," student Jericho Bedore said.
"It's just different, the language of it," fellow 10th grader Jared Carroll added. "It's easier. Little kids can read it. They could read it like a regular book and they'd understand it."
Working at another local school eight years ago, Andalora found that most all Shakespeare adaptations were either still too hard for students to understand or too much had been taken out. So he started writing and publishing his own, using them in his classes.
"The ideas and the characterizations and all of those things are still there," Andalora said of his adaptations. "The figurative language, the similes, the metaphors, if there's rhyme, the rhyme is still in place. The kids are getting the total Shakespeare experience except it's at a vocabulary and a level that can be understood."
"It does do a good job of translating it, but not dumbing it down which is what a lot of the others do," said Dakota Stinson.
The first play Andalora published was "Julius Caesar." He then did "Romeo & Juliet," then "Macbeth" and then "Hamlet." He says it takes him anywhere from six to eight months to complete one.
"Once the language barrier is removed, what kids and readers in general can see is that these people have the real problems that we can still relate to today even those these were written 400 years ago. I want people to enjoy Shakespeare. I know there are people out there who were traumatized by their experience with Shakespeare in high school. It doesn't have to be that way."
Andalora plans to work on a version of "Othello" next. His adaptations can be bought on Amazon or Barnes and Noble's websites, or on Andalora's website: sites.google.com/a/dishmail.net/shakespeare-adaptations.