Language, Lore and Legend - The Story of English

Ref: C2225679

The language of this country a millennium ago was very different to modern English. We consider the linguistic legacy of those who lived here and developed our language, including some stories and traditions. We begin by considering human evolution and language origins, also the early development of writing. We then review Celtic Britain and its languages before the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons and the other influences that consolidated English up to about 1000AD. We look at the way Old English gave way to ‘Middle’ English, comparing Beowulf with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, before considering the process of language standardisation and the later flowering of modern English. This leads to a focus on the rational approach to the organisation of English through the rise of dictionaries and grammar. The study of language, linguistics and dialects reminds us that there is no one form of English and this brings us to our language in the twenty-first century. Where is it heading?

Course aim

To reflect on the development of English from the earliest times. Towards the end of the course, students will be asked to consider the present and future state of English.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Students need a level 2 qualification in English to join this course
  • Those with an interest in language (and literature) will gain most from the course.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • State the main phases of language development in this country from the earliest times.
  • Name those people who have had a particularly important influence on English since the seventh century.
  • Identify earlier forms of English and place them in the development of the language.
  • Describe the major influences on 'standard English' since the sixteenth century.
  • Explain, broadly, why there are differences in the forms of modern English in this country.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You will be asked to read a selection of hand-outs each week in your own time to consolidate your knowledge and understanding of English and its development.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will receive feedback on your progress at the mid-point and end of the course through the Student Learning Record.

What else do I need to know?

  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • You are expected to bring a notebook and pen or pencil to each session.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Put yourself forward as a prospective WEA tutor.

Download full course information sheet

Language, Lore and Legend - The Story of English


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact

Visa Credit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Debit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Electron payments supported by RBS WorldPay Mastercard payments supported by RBS WorldPay Maestro payments supported by RBS WorldPay JCB payments supported by RBS WorldPay Solo payments supported by RBS WorldPay
RBS WorldPay Payments Processing