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Video

Where did English come from?

This short video for students traces English from the present day back to its ancient roots, showing how English has evolved through generations of speakers

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Shakespearean Language

This resource for students is the first in a series of three entitled 'Introduction to Shakespeare', which focuses mainly on 'The Taming of the Shrew'. Students are asked to write sentences in modern English which feature a common word from Shakespeare's time. A link to Shakespearean insults is then provided and students ...

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New meanings: the processes of language change

Have you ever engaged in a bit of argle-bargle? It's the original form of a colloquialism you might be more familiar with: argy-bargy. But where does this phrase come from? Etymology is the study of the history and evolution of words. In this clip Professor Kate Burridge explains the origins of this curious phrase and other words.

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Evolving English: where do new words come from?

What do you think the term Spanglish might mean? Or Chinglish? Or Franglais? Our language is constantly changing and one way in which it does so is by 'borrowing' words from other languages. In this clip, learn about our evolving language.

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Changing letter sounds and butterflies

Have you ever wondered why you can't just add a prefix such as 'in-' to the beginning of a word to make its opposite? Professor Kate Burridge explains how a prefix is influenced by the sound of the letters that come after it. She also gives two explanations about the origins of the word 'butterfly'.

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Dude: American words and pronunciations

Where does the word 'dude' come from? Why do speakers of English often pronounce words differently depending on their country of origin - not only because of their accent? Find out with Professor Kate Burridge when she takes on these questions from viewers.

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Preserving 'Norf'k Laengwij'

Imagine living on a tiny island thousands of kilometres from the Australian mainland. Would you feel like you were part of Australia? This is the dilemma for people living on Norfolk Island, an Australian territory in the Pacific Ocean. In the past, Norfolk Islanders were expected to learn English - but, as this clip from ...

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Is youse alright? What's okay in English?

Have you ever wondered why we use the word 'you' to refer to both one 'you' or many of 'you'? Or have you ever heard anyone refer to many of 'you' using the once grammatically incorrect word 'youse'? This program considers the words we use when we are talking to each other face to face. It also looks at the use of the word ...

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Challenging grammar rules, darlings and crowbars

Find out that what appears to be a straightforward grammar rule behind the use of the words 'fewer' and 'less' may not be as straightforward as it seems! Professor Kate Burridge explains that this grammar rule has been under challenge for centuries. She also explains the origins of the word 'darling' and why the 'crow' ...

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Words and sayings over time

Have you ever wondered where sayings like 'hanging by the skin of your teeth' come from? Professor Kate Burridge explains the origin and meaning of this saying. She also explains the opposite word (antonym) to 'misogynist' (someone who hates or has a long and deep prejudice against women) and the origins of the word 'goodbye'.

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Why do we say the words the way we do?

What kinds of things might influence the way we pronounce words in English? Professor Kate Burridge explains why knowing when 'kilometre' came into English helps us to understand why it is pronounced differently from similar words such as 'kilogram' and 'centimetre'. She also explains what it means to 'barrack' for a team.

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David Crystal: English as a global language

Imagine a world where everyone spoke English. It would make life a lot easier, right? But what would be lost in such a world? In this clip, explore the impact of English becoming a 'global' language. Listen to linguist Professor David Crystal as he considers ways in which English is likely to be influenced in the future.

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Introduction to Shakespeare: Ten Things I Hate about You

This resource for students is the third in a series of three entitled 'Introduction to Shakespeare', which is mainly based on a study of 'The Taming of the Shrew'. This resource asks students to: write a plot summary of the film; contrast plot flow charts of the play and the film; discuss gender roles in Shakespeare's ...

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Introduction to Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew

This resource for students is the second in a series entitled 'Introduction to Shakespeare', based on a study of 'The Taming of the Shrew'. This resource looks at selected scenes, with activities based on each. Students are asked to: translate speeches into modern English; analyse the use of puns to create humour; discuss ...

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'Bought' or 'brought' and radio code

Changes in the use, pronunciation, and meaning of common everyday English words happen all the time. Professor Kate Burridge explains that we can see this in the way people increasingly switch the past tense of the verbs 'buy' and 'bring'. She also answers a viewer's question about why 'Roger' is used on two-way and CB radios.

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English: an evolving language

In this clip, explore two viewpoints about the use of the English language, particularly in regards to punctuation. Should English remain a static language or is there room for a more flexible view of the 'rules' of English language?

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Vanishing words: the process of language change

The English language is full of strange contradictions and vanishing words. Have you ever wondered why we sometimes put words together that contradict each other, such as 'pretty awful' or 'terribly good'? If we can be 'ruthless', can we be 'ruthly' as well? Watch as Professor Kate Burridge explains these curious irregularities ...

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Golly gosh, what do those sayings mean?

Have you ever wondered where sayings like 'golly gosh', 'by gum' or 'drat' come from? In this video, Professor Kate Burridge explains the origins and meaning of these and other sayings. She also explains the history of the pronoun 'you'.

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Plum puddings, yelks to yolks and elfs to elves

Why are Christmas puddings called 'plum puddings' when they have no plums in them? How did the egg yolk get its name and why are the plurals for 'hoof' and 'roof' are spelt differently? Find out how Professor Kate Burridge answers these questions that the audience of 'Wise Words' send in for her.

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Word histories: how extraordinary!

Words can change over time and so can their meanings. The word 'extra' broke away from other words to become a word on its own. Professor Kate Burridge explains how this impacts on words like 'extraordinary'. She also explains the origins and meanings of the words 'hearse' and 'rehearse''.