Writer: William Shakespeare (paraphrased by David P. Steel)

CEFR Level: B1

Synopsis: Shakespearean English is not the easiest to understand, not even for a native speaker. We dared to paraphrase the Bard of Avon – to make him more accessible to your students. We chose Sonnet 29, using modern English to evoke a lovesick teenager, which might not be too far away from your students’ familiar world.

NB: Bold words may be clicked in the app to get definitions and create individualized exercises.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29

 Chapter 1
There are times when I’m completely broke and I feel totally unpopular. So I just stay at home and mope around. Sometimes I try praying, but I don’t think anyone up there is really listening. Maybe God is deaf?

Chapter 2
When I’m feeling sorry for myself like this, I look in the mirror and curse my fate. Why me?! I envy people who are full of hope. I would probably be more hopeful, if I had beautiful features like Matt Damon, or if I had lots of followers like Billie Eilish.

Chapter 3
I mean, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t be stoked if they were as talented as Cristiano Ronaldo? Of course, I’d be chuffed if I had the means to do whatever I wanted like Bill Gates. It’s difficult to be happy about anything when I’m in one of these moods. Everything I usually enjoy just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Chapter 4
In the middle of all this self-doubt, sometimes my thoughts turn to you, just by accident. Then my sad state-of-mind is instantly cured. I feel like a lark awakened by the sunrise, suddenly flying up from the dark ground and singing beautiful songs in the morning sky.

Chapter 5
I have so many exquisite memories of your love – unforgettable moments no one can take away from me. All I have to do is remember them and already I feel richer than anyone on Earth. I’m so happy then, I would scorn the thought of trading places with anyone.

Use “Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29” in your classroom

What does it mean to paraphrase? How do you preserve the meaning of a text when reformulating it? If you are an educator, we invite you to download our free Teacher’s Package for this and two other stories in the free version of the app StoryPlanet English. The package includes suggestions for in-class activities, vocabulary lists and links to related resources.