Shakespeare can boost language skills in nursery, says RSC education chief

Shakespeare's 'gorgeous' words can help boost curiosity about language – and could narrow the disadvantage gap, says RSC director of education

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Teaching Shakespeare to children as young as 3 can help boost their language skills, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s director of education has said.

Jacqui O’Hanlon said that Shakespeare’s plays “ignite a curiosity” about language and can help “narrow the gap” between children from disadvantaged families and their classmates.

Talking to The Sunday Telegraph, Ms O’Hanlon said that some schools begin teaching children Shakespeare in nursery. “No age is too young to start learning about the Bard,” she said.

“They are learning new words all the time, every day. Shakespeare is just a new set of really gorgeous, delicious, intriguing words.

“You ignite a curiosity about language. And that is a fantastic skill set, particularly for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“It narrows the gap. If you go to an independent school what you will be surrounded by is a group of young people who are utterly confident in communication. That confidence and communication is what Shakespeare opens the door to.”

Her comments came after the RSC, commissioned Warwick University to study the effect of studying Shakespeare on children.

The researchers interviewed teachers at around 100 schools where Shakespeare was taught to disadvantaged children and found that 95 per cent of teachers felt it had an impact on children’s confidence – while 84 per cent felt it had boosted spoken and written language.

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