Excavating English (Digital Download)




NOTE:  Paperback copies of this book are now available on Amazon.com and on BookDepository.com.   Customers outside the U.S. should use the Book Depository site because they offer FREE shipping worldwide.



Click here to download the first two chapters

Target age group:  11-15

This curriculum is slightly different from my other curricula for two reasons:
1) The text was written by my sister (who is a linguist).  My part was to create and write the activities.
2) The booklet does not have separate sections for students and teachers.  It’s one booklet with the activities right in the text.

Summary of curriculum:  An introduction to the nature of the English language (its flexibility and willingness to take in new words), reasons to study the history of English, places where English is spoken, basic principles of phonetics (including topics such as palatalization), how and why languages change, language family groups, the Indo-European languages and where they came from, the oldest words in the English language, cognates, the Germanic family of languages, Grimm’s Law, King Arthur, the Anglo-Saxons, Alfred the Great, Old English, the Danes and Old Norse, the Norman Conquest and its linguistic consequences, the centuries of silence, Chaucer and his “Canterbury Tales,” the Renaissance and the introduction of Latin and Greek words, the “Great Vowel Shift,” the English dictionary, English crosses the Atlantic, immigrants to America and the words they brought with them, international English.

Activities include: a group game about nouns and verbs, a map activity about countries where English is spoken, some word puzzles about obsolete words, food words and acronyms, experiments with phonetics in your own mouth, identifying phonetic sounds in a variety of words, Indo-European numbers, a map study, activities about cognates, a word search puzzle about our oldest words, another map study, reading and listening to Old English, Anglo-Saxon names and words, Norse word puzzles, read and listen to the prologue from The Canterbury Tales, Norman French words in English, Renaissance word puzzles, common Latin and Greek roots, a group game about dictionary definitions, and several review quizzes and crossword puzzles.  Also included are suggestions for more reading (via websites).


  1. Can this be used for high school credit?  Yes, the content is fine for high school.  If you do just the basic activities in the book and don’t do much supplement, it would count for about 1/4 credit, by USA standards.  If you’d like a full semester of credit (1/2 credit) that is easily achieved by doing all the supplemental reading suggested in the book (Chaucer, Beowulf, some sonnets, etc.), and/or use a resource such as History of English podcasts:  historyofenglishpodcast.com
  2. Can I get a hard copy?  Hard copies should be available on Amazon.com.