Before my junior year in college, history was actually not my strong suit and I found it only mildly interesting. But that all changed when I took a course on the history of the English language for my English degree at Auburn University. The history suddenly popped. It came alive. And from that point on I had a framework, a reference, a sequence of pivotal English history events which I never forgot. Not only that, but I had a whole new appreciation for language itself, beyond just English, and the miracle of God that it truly is. It struck me as a real shame that I had not been taught this historical framework and at least some of these fascinating concepts about language in middle school or high school. Such a study would have certainly sparked a keener understanding and interest in all my future courses in both history and English, and also in the study of a foreign language.
Here are a few more details of what your student will get from reading King Alfred’s English:
- English political history can be dense and confusing, and I think that’s an understatement. King Alfred’s English makes it lean and understandable (and humorous) as it presents events through the lens of 4 language “invasions” and how they changed the course of the way we speak. Most of these language-altering tsunami’s were brought on by the actual invasion of an army, and that’s where much of the history comes in. Students will get a useful mind-map of major events to which they can easily pushpin finer facts and details when they reach them in later high school or college.
- The story of English incorporates the study of language itself, and as such, becomes a springboard for understanding the curious and often quirky functions of grammar and syntax in a way no other study can do. Words–those fascinating little critters we use everyday and take for granted–deserve so much more! They are truly a separate species with a life of their own.
- The publishing of the English Bible had an unprecedented affect on the development of English. King Alfred’s English fleshes out this story along with the Reformation and the men such as Wycliffe and Tyndale who risked or gave their lives to get the Bible to the common English man and woman. Tyndale’s work, especially, is examined in some depth including the influence he had not only on the later King James Bible, but also on the popular phrases and vocabulary of all those who speak English.
- King Alfred’s English can be a brief read-through in two or three weeks, or it can be extended to a full semester if the supplemental writing and research is assigned. (Suggested assignments are on the Teacher’s Page along with chapter worksheets and tests).
My goal was to make this mini-course a broadening, faith building, and entertaining trek for any student or homeschooling family.