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The world’s mine oyster… Wear my heart upon my sleeve… Wild-goose chase… All that glisters is not gold… A tower of strength… In a pickle… Even a small selection of these phrases, coined by Shakespeare, shows how he lives on in the English we speak today.
In Shakespeare Speaks, a series of 20 short animations, BBC Learning English has joined forces with The Open University, the UK’s foremost distance learning university, to bring the language of William Shakespeare to life for English language learners and for anyone who wants to know more about Shakespeare’s life, times – and his words.
The series is part of a pan-BBC festival marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. In Shakespeare Speaks, The Bard and a cast of real and imagined characters from his life and times explain the origin and meaning of some of his most famous expressions.
Each episode focuses on a specific phrase to tell a story, with the characters developing and their lives intertwining over the 20 weeks. Real-life examples of the phrases in modern and popular use give additional context to learners.
Millions of learners of English around the world will benefit from this engaging and interactive content. Through online quizzes, games and other activities, audiences will have opportunities to reinforce learning, practise the language and connect with their fellow learners via social media. Shakespeare Speaks is also available in radio and TV broadcast formats.
BBC Learning English Editor, Paul Scott, said: “The first phrase explored on Shakespeare Speaks is ‘dead as a doornail’. We hope that by the time the audience watch ‘Greek to me’ in the last episode in June, they will feel connected with the world and language of Shakespeare and will be happily using his phrases in their everyday conversations.”
The Open University’s Head of Broadcast and Partnerships, Caroline Ogilvie, added: “The Open University is delighted to be working in partnership with BBC Learning English for the first time. We’re very excited about our Shakespeare series which will help explain and bring key Shakespearian words and phrases to learners across the world.”
Shakespeare Speaks starts on January 22nd. Each new episode will go live every Friday for 20 weeks and will be available on demand and via podcasts.
BBC Learning English is a world leader in using international broadcasting to teach English. Millions of users connect with BBC Learning English via the website bbclearningenglish.com, its partner sites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
BBC Learning English is part of BBC World Service.