Old English level 1

Course Dates: 30/01/24 - 19/03/24
Time: 17:30 - 19:30
Location: Online
What was the English language like before the Norman Conquest? How easy is it to translate their diverse literature? Can we write our own Old English? Come along and see.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Old English level 1
  • Course Code: RE408
  • Dates: 30/01/24 - 19/03/24
  • Time: 17:30 - 19:30
  • Taught: Tue, Evening
  • Duration: 8 sessions (over 8 weeks)
  • Location: Online
  • Tutor: Stephen Pollington

Course Code: RE408

Choose a start date  

Tue, eve, 30 Jan - 19 Mar '24

Duration: 8 sessions (over 8 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This course is an introduction to the key aspects of the Old English language, spoken in England before the Norman Conquest. While there are some aspects of Old English which will be familiar to English speakers, it was a more purely Germanic language, with inflection rather than word order being important for meaning. We will focus on the key characteristics of the language, and will undertake translation of Old English texts, including prose and poetry. The overall aim is to be comfortable with translation, and understanding effective ways of overcoming issues of interpretation through knowledge of the language, and also knowing how to find out the answer to questions of translation if problems arise.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

Key linguistic aspects of Old English such as vocabulary, cases, inflections, word classes
An introduction to the grammar of Old English.
Translation of Old English literature, from relatively simple prose sentences to the poetry of Beowulf.
What to do if you get stuck during a translation task!

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Adopt certain techniques and methods to translate texts.
- Describe the key characteristics of Old English.
- Parse Old English (we will discuss ‘parsing’ as part of the course)
- Be familiar with significant vocabulary.
- Be familiar with the similarities between Old English and Modern English texts.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This is a beginners course. Understanding of linguistic terminology would be useful but is not essential. Certain linguistic terminology (such as parsing, classes, etc. which have already been mentioned in this course outline) will be covered in the class, and we will not get into complex linguistic terminology at this level.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Demonstration, and individual and group tasks.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?


When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Old English level 2 next term.

Stephen Pollington

Stephen is a freelance researcher, tutor, presenter and author specialising in the Old English language and the history of Anglo-Saxon England. He has worked with a wide range of organisations from the BBC, major universities and museums to local history and poetry groups in several countries, bringing history to life through a combination of written texts, readings and artefacts. He has written for publications as varied as ‘The Reader’ and ‘The Oxford Companion to Military History’. Stephen is the author of more than a dozen books on aspects of early mediaeval culture including social institutions, medical manuscripts, military life, the applied arts, death and the afterlife, writing systems, pre-Christian religion and the Sutton Hoo treasure. He has provided Old English and Old Norse dialogue for television, and both visual and audio content for museums. His voice-over in Old English for television documentaries and CDs of readings have been widely appreciated.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.