I kenne English: history of English and spelling


* Length: 30-45 minutes
* Target age: 3rd-5th grade

Pronunciation of words has constantly changed, and changes in spelling have lagged behind, with the result that spelling has represented the pronunciation of several generations or even centuries before. Pronunciation increasingly diverged from spelling in the medieval period, and many late medieval spellings were permanently fossilized following the introduction of printing. So modern spelling still largely represents medieval pronunciation, and the discrepancies between sounds and spelling were already marked in the sixteenth century

We think it would be beneficial to explain to students that English is a language related to other languages and a language where the pronunciation of words don't match with the spelling of the words. In this lesson students will be introduced to important facts about the history of English, all through a simple and fun spelling activity.

This lesson is designed to introduce young students to cognates and language change, through a spelling lesson. In this lesson, you will use English and German cognates beginning with the written letters 'kn' and 'gn' to illustrate how English has changed over time. A cognate is a word that looks and sounds like a word in another language, and the two words are historically related. For example, 'knave' in English is 'Knabe' in German. These two words look and are spelled similarly; the main difference is that the 'k' and 'e' in 'knave' are silent, whereas the 'K' and 'e' in 'Knabe' are pronounced.

Attached, we have provided a skeleton structure of our lesson entitled

Lesson Plan

See I kenne English attachmen

Class Time Needed

30 minutes


Language arts

Grade Level

Grades 3-5