Ref: C2524420

Once upon a time, "black" meant "white", and "soon" meant "now". The English language is tremendous rich and complex, in part because of its long and fascinating history. Beyond simply borrowing the occasional word, English has, as James Nicholl puts it, "pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary," starting with Anglo Saxon and incorporating Norman French, Latin, and a myriad of other tongues to become what it is today. And it is still changing, influenced by cultural exchange and social trends. Learn why we keep sheep but eat mutton, how to talk like an Elizabethan criminal or a Georgian fop, and the stories behind hundreds of words you've never really thought about - and consider where English might go next!

Course aim

To provide an overview of how the English language has grown and developed throughout history.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • Understand some of the historical influences on the English language
  • Describe some of the key sources used in studying the English language
  • Appreciate the wide varieties of English spoken in different countries and cultures

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

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 have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • All materials will be provided

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • There is no set course material but suggestions of interesting websites or books will be made throughout the course should you wish to pursue them.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider

Download full course information sheet



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 courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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