“O teach me how I should (not) forget to think” (1.1.219) Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo+Juliet: Training Pupils to Be Critical Thinkers
Vries, M.J. de
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Literature is important for developing a variety of English language skills in the EFL classroom. Many of Shakespeare's works are found on most reading lists for Dutch pupils in secondary education, especially Romeo and Juliet. Many pupils think though, that reading a Shakespeare play is intimidating and too difficult. Film is a powerful educational tool as it has a significant impact on the way in which pupils learn nowadays. Watching a filmed adaptation can aid to pupils’ understanding of the play, since the film provides a visual context. The use of adaptations can help teachers to engage their pupils and become critical thinkers, provided that they are guided to study not only the similarities between the adaptation and its source text, but also study why choices have been made and how they influence the audience’s response. By doing so, pupils will train their analytical skills by reflecting on why and how the film director or screenplay writer has adapted the text and what this means to its new cultural-historical context. Luhrmann’s adaptation Romeo+Juliet (1996) makes Shakespeare’s original play more comprehensible to the modern teenage audience, because pupils can relate to the characters and their social setting. Luhrmann’s adaptation provides teachers with a wide range of interesting topics to discuss with their pupils while, at the same time, it makes Shakespeare more accessible for Dutch EFL learners.