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We provide resources and lesson content to educate pupils on the history of English and its beginnings, and to foster an appreciation of all past and present world languages.

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Our Mission

This project aims to encourage pupils in junior schools and the first years of secondary school to:

  • be curious about language and languages, their history and their diversity
  • understand how languages create sense
  • think across languages to see links and similarities
  • develop skills in learning, reading, writing and hearing both in English and other languages
  • see how languages relate to other topics of study, history, geography, science etc.

About This Site

The World of Languages and Languages of the World (WoLLoW) is a curriculum package for primary and secondary schools, which teaches children the history, culture and development of all languages and how they have shaped our lives. WoLLoW uses ideas and activities from a range of different subjects and helps pupils to understand patterns of grammar, uses of script and how learning through language can help shape their understanding of the world.

The primary and secondary courses run for a year and are aimed at one lesson per week. Resources are free to download, are flexible and can be adapted to suit the skills of your teachers and the needs of your learners.

The Reason

As a country, Britain is, more than ever before, multi-cultural and multi-lingual. As a language, English is a remarkable, perhaps unique, mongrel, the product of conquest, migration and empire, combining words – and grammar – from Celtic, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Viking, Norman French, Latin (again), ancient Greek and the languages of the British Empire. And yet, the teaching of ancient and modern languages – whether European or Asian – is, at best, problematic and, at worst, declining towards extinction. And the teaching of English itself seems to be mired in technical, and wearying, language.

The Means

This programme has been constructed for pupils in KS2 and KS3 by language teachers from a range of schools, junior and secondary, state and independent, with the following aims:

  • to encourage a curiosity about language and languages, where they came from, how they developed and are developing, how they are related.
  • to help pupils to understand how languages work in terms of grammar and thereby to provide a foundation for the study of specific languages at secondary level.
  • to develop the capacity to learn languages, including English, by encouraging thought about etymology, the similarities between languages etc.
  • to link the teaching of languages with other aspects of the curriculum.
  • to enable pupils who have a rich linguistic history to bring that history into the classroom.

The programme provides schemes of work and resources, both for pupils and teachers, which will explore:

  • the history of the English language and the history and etymology of English words.
  • the relation of English to other languages, in particular Germanic languages, Romance languages, Indo-European languages.
  • the ways in which different languages work in terms of grammar, syntax, idiom.
  • the creation and decipherment of codes and artificial languages.

I have crossed an ocean
I have lost my tongue
from the root of the old one
a new one has sprung

Poem by Grace Nichols, a Guyanese immigrant

Synergy [1632], collaboration [1860] and working together [Old English]

Throughout the development of the project, we have consulted and worked with a wide range of different schools, state and independent, primary and secondary, and different institutions including the Independent Schools Modern Language Association, the Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham, the Birmingham Education Partnership, the University of Manchester, the Swire Foundation, the British Council and others. We believe that this project particularly lends itself to collaboration between institutions to increase engagement with languages and, in particular, it is an excellent means whereby partnerships can be developed between primary, secondary and tertiary education and between state and independent schools. It is also hoped that this project will, particularly in multi-lingual cities, have an impact on the learning of languages by adults.

Who are we?

Profile picture of Abigail Dean

Abigail Dean

Modern Foreign Languages specialist, Norwich School
Abigail Dean is a teacher of French and German at Norwich School. She studied Politics and German at the University of East Anglia. She is an active contributor to the course content and resources on this site.

Profile picture of John Caughton

John Claughton

Retired headmaster, King Edward’s School Birmingham
John Claughton was Chief Master at King Edward’s School for 10 years. He was a pupil at King Edward’s himself, and went on to complete a Master of Arts at Merton College, Oxford. He received a Double First in Classics and has written two books for CUP, Herodotus and the Persian Wars, in addition to a translation of Aristophanes’ Clouds. He retired in 2016.

Steffan Griffiths

Headmaster, Norwich School
Steffan Griffiths joined Norwich School in September 2011. After reading Classics at University College, Oxford, he taught at Tonbridge School (1995-1999) and Eton College (1999-2006). In 2006, he was appointed to the role of Usher (principal deputy head) at Magdalen College School, Oxford. Steffan also holds a first-class honours English Literature degree from the Open University.

Profile picture of John Wilson

John Wilson

Head of Modern Languages and Director of Partnerships, Cheadle Hulme School
A Spanish specialist, he is also Partnerships Lead for The Independent Schools’ Modern Languages Association. Outside of teaching, John is co-founder of a charity, Cricket Beyond Boundaries, and loves dividing his time between this, his family and rugby (both codes).

Thank you to James Livesey (a Norwich School pupil) for website creation and maintenance.

What students and educators say

“It was lots of fun and I loved seeing that I know more languages than I thought”

Ava Y, Year 6 student

“The lesson on ‘Yodaspeak’ was lovely to teach. Very clear and useful resources, that were easy to use. It was very interesting and engaging for pupils”

Falina Richardson, MFL Teacher

“I feel that it’s really brought some direction and vision which has been absent from languages for some time”

Elliot Thorne, Avenue Junior School

“It was brilliant”

Arthur D, Year 7 student

“Your ideas are a breath of fresh air to me”

Joan Dickie, Discovering Language

I have not previously encountered such a rich and deep curriculum experience for pupils embarking on their journey learning about language and languages; this ground-breaking approach cannot fail to develop a lifelong appreciation of what the place, value and role of languages has in the world today. It is the perfect preparation to help all language educators create successful linguists in the future

Suzanne O’Farrell, ASCL

Get to know us

We are a group of educators who provide a solid understanding of how languages work, teach about the history of language, and foster an appreciation of both modern and classical languages.

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