A Brief History of English from the Dark Ages to the Digital Age

Ref: C3533146

Over the past fifteen hundred years, the English language has evolved from being a group of dialects spoken on an island off the mainland of Europe, to being the most widespread language in the world, spoken by about two billion people across the globe. Yet how did this happen, and to what extent is the English spoken by people one and a half millennia ago the same English used by people across the world in the digital age? This short course will provide an overview of the development of the English language, exploring where the roots of English lie and travelling through each stage of the development of English from Old English, Middle English and on to Modern English. The course will be delivered over six weeks and will show that migration, invasion, colonisation and attempts to reform and standardise English have all influenced the language, and it will examine whether we should now think in terms of 'Englishes' rather than English.

Course aim

To provide an introduction to the history and development of the English language.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners

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

  • Name the three main forms of English through time.
  • Define words such as 'creole' and 'pidgin'.
  • Name at least two literary sources that have influenced the vocabulary of English
  • Name at least one factor that led to the spread of English across the world.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

This course will be delivered online to access to the internet will be required.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

A Brief History of English from the Dark Ages to the Digital Age


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • 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 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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