King Alfred’s English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do was written by Laurie J. White as a way to bring the history of our language to students in grades 7 through 12 in a fun and engaging manner.
Laurie fell in love with the history of the English language after taking it as a college course; it made the study of key parts of history, English and even foreign language come alive. King Alfred’s English looks at how the growth of the English language through four key invasions, or as Laurie puts it “language altering tsunamis,” both broadened and simplified English into the language we speak today.
My oldest daughter (going into 7th grade) was my helper for this review. She is very interested in history so she was excited to dig in and start reading about the evolution of the English language. There are 15 total chapters in this book, LOTS of material was covered. To give you an idea of what we read about, see below:
Pre-English Britain (The Romans, King Arthur) 55 BC-500 AD
Old English (Language Background, The Invasion of the Church & on Latin, The Vikings) 500-1066
Middle English (Invasion of Normans, Middle English background, Introduction of print) 1066-1500
Transition from Middle to Modern English (Invasion of the Greek, Martin Luther) 1400-1600
The Making of the English Bible 1526-1611
Shakespeare and Modern English 1500-Present
As a recap, the book discusses how the advent of the printing press was not only a boon to language, but helped with the dissemination of the Bible to the common people aiding the Protestant Reformation and molding the vernacular. She explores the work of Wycliffe (pre-printing press), Martin Luther and Tyndale.
As you march through history, the reader learns that many of the words with the SK sound come from the Old Norse, ph comes from Greek, how the advent of printing solidified spelling, why the Great Vowel Shift changed pronunciation and the lasting effect of Greek and Latin on the “roots” of English. Answers to why we spell knight with a kn and other mysteries of spelling are illuminated. My daughter had quite a few A-HA! moments as to why our spelling can be so strange!
Overall we enjoyed the material, I will be saving it with our curriculum and will pull it out in years to come as my kiddos get a little older and have a deeper understanding. What we gleaned out of the information at this level was still very interesting and useful!
Visit Laurie’s website, The Shorter Word.com, to find both Student and Teacher resources. Using her suggested minimum requirements, the book and free supplemental material she provides can be used as a 1/2 credit high school history course, or a combined 1/4 credit history and 1/4 credit English course. Resources include suggested readings and links, worksheets, tests and writing activities.
If you're interested in buying King Alfred's English at the wholesale discount (for half price at $8.47), I have a promotional code I can share with 4 of my readers. If you would like this code to purchase King Alfred's English at the wholesale discount price, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be first come first serve! This code will be available and good through the month of September.
To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about King Alfred's English, visit the Homeschool Crew Blog to read more.
**Disclosure: My review and opinion written in this post is entirely my own. This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my review as a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew.