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By: Unknown | Grade: 11-12

Beowulf Literary Touchstone Classic

Teaching Beowulf

When you teach Beowulf, it's important to get a translation that your students can handle. The story itself is something most students will love--with adventure, heroes, and the slaying of dragons. To enjoy the story, however, they have to be able to read it.

Beowulf is an ancient, epic poem of which many translations have been made over the years. Most are poetic but there are also some modern prose translations available as well. The most popular translations are by Raffel, Nye, Heaney, and Gummere. The Literary Touchstone Classic edition (pictured to the left here) is a prose edition that has combined and reconciled the 1892 prose translation by John Earle with the 1910 verse translation by Francis Gummere. It is very readable for most high school students and includes helpful notes. Our LitPlan is based on the Raffel translation.

If your students need help with the vocabulary in Beowulf, this blog article will give you a few ideas about how to handle that. 

The guides, novel units, and other teaching resources below will give you many options for helping your students better understand this classic, epic story.

Summary of Beowulf

In an ancient Danish kingdom, Grendel, a brutal monster, roams the countryside nightly, spreading terror across the land. Beowulf, a warrior of great strength and courage, hears of the bloody, pitiless attacks and immediately sets sail to free the Danes from Grendel’s bloodlust. Although Beowulf dates from the very beginning of English literature, this saga of a man who is "most kind to his people, most eager for fame" is as thrilling to us now as it was to the Anglo-Saxons who first told it over 1,000 years ago.

Available Teacher Guides, Lesson Plans, Literature Units for Beowulf: