History of the English Language

Ref: C3744477

This course is currently full.
Join the waiting list to be notified if any places become available.

The course will begin with an overview of the story of English from before the earliest records to the present. After that the classes will concentrate on the different periods in the history of English, ending with the present-day language (with a peep into its possible future). You will be looking at and discussing texts and examples of the language from the time of Bede and Alfred on through the Middle Ages and the Enlightenment until today. So far as time allows, we will also deal with dialects, both geographical and social; the spread of English worldwide (including a look at English pidgins); and the relationship of English to other languages. Suggestions for other topics will be welcomed and, if practicable, incorporated into the course.

Course aim

To introduce you to the story of how the English language has changed and developed over the centuries, also where it came from and its future.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You don't need to have any qualifications or even experience, but an interest in the English language is essential, and any interest in, or knowledge of, languages will be helpful.

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

  • Understand and explain the way in which English has changed and developed over the centuries.
  • Relate the history of the language to British, European, and world history and culture.
  • Analyse how English has influenced and been influenced by other languages.

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 be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • You will probably find it helpful to take notes some of the time, and it will occasionally be necessary to write something in the class.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • You will be recommended some books or materials to read or consult, especially later in the course.

What can I do next?

  • There aren't any specific learning progressions, though the course would be of help to anyone wanting to study the history of English-speaking countries or perhaps linguistics or other languages.

Download full course information sheet

History of the English Language

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course is currently full.
Join the waiting list to be notified if any places become available.

Waiting List Conditions

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 2019
  • 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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