Coach John talks about William Shakespeare, who is believed to have been born and died on April 23rd.

Click HERE to download the Weekly English Practice as a PDF.

Useful Vocabulary

  1. set: (v) to put (something or someone) in a particular place or posture
  2. backdrop: (n) the rear curtain of a stage setting
  3. [usually singular] the setting of an event
  4. paunch: (n) a large belly, or one that sticks out;
  5. a potbelly
  6. lean: (adj) (of persons or animals) without much flesh or fat
  7. thin:pate: (n) the top of the head
  8. thee: (pron) the form of thou, or you, used as an object of a verb or of a preposition: ‘With this ring, I thee wed’
  9. merry: (adj) full of cheerfulness or joy; joyous in spirit
  10. well-tempered: (adj) treated so as to develop the desired degree of hardness and elasticity. well-tempered steel. a well-tempered sword blade


Shakespeare’s plays are set in many locations, some of them fictional 

Europe, Africa and the Middle East are all settings for Shakespeare’s plays. His plays are set in 12 countries, with cities in what is now Italy being Shakespeare’s favourite backdrop. Some plays, such as The Tempest, take place in entirely fictional worlds. The only comedy to be set in the UK is The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Shakespeare took phrases from other languages

For instance, ‘fat paunches make lean pates‘ was originally a Greek and Latin proverb by St Jerome. Shakespeare’s’Greek to me’ could also be from a similar phrase in Latin, a language which Shakespeare could read.

The word ‘love’ appears 2,191 times in the complete works

The number is based on the 1864 Globe Edition – the amount could vary slightly from edition to edition. Altogether, there are 28,829 unique word forms in all of Shakespeare’s works, and 12,493 occur only once.

Shakespeare invented lots of expressions that we still use today

‘Heart of gold’ (Henry V)

‘Wild-goose chase’ (Romeo and Juliet)

‘Faint-hearted’ (Henry IV part I)

‘Brave new world’ (The Tempest)

‘Break the ice’ (The Taming of the Shrew)

‘For goodness’ sake’ (Henry VIII)

‘Foregone conclusion’ (Othello)

‘Love is blind’ (The Merchant of Venice)

The stories told in most of Shakespeare’s plays are not original 

Shakespeare’s primary source materials were English and Latin works: histories, plays, and poems.

The most popular name from a  Shakespeare play used today is Olivia

That’s according to the list of most popular US and British baby names in 2014. Olivia is the name of a character in Twelfth Night. Shakespeare was the first person to use the name with this spelling.

  1. Give a summary of the texts to your coach or classmates
  2. What two important events happened to Shakespeare on April 23rd?
  3. How many of Shakespeare’s plays were set in the UK’?
  4. Explain the phrase, ‘’fat paunches make lean pates” (Look it up)
  5. Try to explain some of Shakespeare’s invented phrases. 
  6. Read and listen to Sonnet number 18 (See page 2) Listen to a translation if it’s too difficult. Do you like it? What is it about? 
  7. What is Shakespeare’s connection to Bilbao?