English / Year 5 / Language / Language variation and change

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Curriculum content descriptions

Understand that the pronunciation, spelling and meanings of words have histories and change over time (ACELA1500)

Elaborations
  • recognising that a knowledge of word origins is not only interesting in its own right, but that it extends students’ knowledge of vocabulary and spelling
  • exploring examples of words in which pronunciation, writing and meaning has changed over time, including words from a range of cultures
General capabilities
  • Literacy Literacy
  • Intercultural understanding Intercultural understanding
ScOT terms

Language conventions,  Spelling variations,  Pronunciation

Video

Can We Help?: 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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Can We Help?: 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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Can We Help?: 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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Can We Help?: 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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Can We Help?: '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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Feathers, Fur and Fins: A song about snakes

Do you know any songs about Australian animals? Listen to this song about snakes performed by Don Spencer. Watch and listen, as the clip shows different types of snakes and even some trained people trying to catch a snake.

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

Video

Can We Help?: From possessive apostrophes to discombobulation!

People often worry about the use of apostrophes. See how Professor Kate Burridge answers a question about how to use the apostrophes after certain names, telling us how the rule has changed over time. She also explains the origins of the word 'discombobulate' and why the plural of house is not 'hice'.

Video

Can We Help?: 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.

Video

Radio National: The 'H' wars

How do you pronounce the letter ‘h'? Why do you think there is more than one way to pronounce this letter? Watch this video to find out why some people may pronounce the letter ‘h' as 'aitch' as opposed to 'haitch'. If you'd like to learn more on this topic, visit this site.

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Can We Help?: Subjunctivitis! Fact or 'Furphy'?

Why is 'were' used in 'If I were king' and what is the subjunctive? What do water sources and gossip have in common? If you don't know then you need to watch and listen as Professor Kate Burridge and Peter Rowsthorn explore these questions.

Video

Can We Help?: Got or gotten? What a nightmare!

Words have a history. Knowing their history helps us to understand what they mean and why some people use them in different ways. Professor Kate Burridge explains how the use of the past tense of the verb 'get' (gotten) has changed, but is still in use by many people. She also discusses the history of the word 'nightmare'.

Video

Can We Help?: 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.

Video

Can We Help?: 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'.

Video

Can We Help?: 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''.

Video

BTN: Who was Banjo Paterson?

Banjo Paterson was an Australian writer and a poet, most famous for writing 'Waltzing Matilda' and 'The Man From Snowy River'. It could be said that his writing, based on his own experiences of the Australian bush life, has shaped Australia's identity. Do you agree? Why/why not?

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A comparison of the effectiveness of two strategy tutoring programs for children with persistent spelling difficulties

This teacher resource describes a small-scale research study into the capacity of two strategies of one-on-one tutoring (Look-Say-Cover-Write-Say-Check and Old Way/New Way - Mediational Learning) to help primary school students with persistent difficulties develop effective spelling strategies. It is presented in nine sections: ...

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Improving narrative and language skills in senior primary school students

This teacher resource describes a highly successful narrative strategy developed by Mahogany Rise Primary School in Victoria. The strategy enhanced acquisition of literacy skills by supporting students' oral language development. All years 5 and 6 students were involved in whole-class programs. Extended intervention in ...

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Creating change as a literacy coach

This teacher resource describes how a literacy coach made a substantial difference to students' literacy achievements, teachers' involvement in literacy strategies and whole-school culture at Allendale East Area School in South Australia. Organised in nine sections: Summary; Target student group; Method; Results; Lessons ...