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Beast Fables for Year 7

English senior school

Year 7 really made the most of their recent English module: The History of English. Pupils have learned how the English language has evolved through looking at ‘Beowulf’, ‘The Canterbury Tales’, Early Modern English sonnets by Shakespeare, Samuel Pepys’ Diaries and some Victorian and WW1 poems.

The girls learned about etymology and the standardisation of English. They were encouraged to creatively translate extracts from Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ into Modern English. By taking a ‘detective’ approach to language, decoding meanings and re-interpreting texts for a modern audience, the girls have learned to analyse unfamiliar language with confidence and hone their dictionary and independent research skills.

Group presentations were impressive - with one group comparing Pepys’ writing style with Anne Frank’s, another writing a modern sonnet based on Shakespeare’s sonnet 98, whilst a third group did a fabulous role-play between two characters from different times: the present and 80 years ago. This group demonstrated how a more formal register was used before,  created misunderstandings in their conversation through newly coined words, and showed language meanings that have changed over time, such as ‘wireless’ and ‘cute.’ 

Alongside this, Year 7 have just entered The Canterbury Tales Writing Competition. They had to write a 500-word Beast Fable in the style of Chaucer - either verse or prose. Initially it was difficult for them to adopt a writing style as if you are story-telling aloud to an audience. The girls had to choose a character to introduce the fable and decide on his/her modern day occupation and a suitable setting which would lend itself to a story being told aloud. They had to include interruptions from the narrator or the audience to echo Chaucer’s style. Their work is currently being judged, but the stories were so good, we decided to make them into illustrated books and read them aloud to the Prep department! The girls thoroughly enjoyed bringing their creative stories to life and discussing the proverbs and morals of their stories with a younger audience.

Read Myrtle Probert’s Beast Fable 'The Dentist’s Assistant' (written in rhyming couplets)

Words by Mrs Shaw-Young
English Teacher


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