Later Language

The Story of the Families leading to the English Language


“Remember how we looked at how much time passed before human beings came to Earth and how they arrived when everything was ready.  


We think that humans spoke to each other from the beginning wonder what did they think about and what did they talk about.  Perhaps they talked about the food they found, maybe they spoke about the food and animals they saw and what they did and what they saw.  I think they told songs and told stories to each other, and not just the adults, I think they told stories to help the children’s sleep.  Is suppose they went on journeys, I think they told stories about what happened when they got back.


I wonder what the first language was and who were the first people who spoke that language.  It would not be like our language today.  Some people think that English might be 4,000 years old.  People who study languages think that they are like families.  Some are like close members of a family, like brothers and sisters, some are not so close, like third cousins.  Most of the European language families are related to each other. They have the same great parent language, called ‘Proto-Indo-European’. 


The people who first spoke this language came from very far away, they were travellers from the steppes of Russia, they kept herds of animals, perhaps they travelled to find new land for their animals to graze.  When they set out on journeys they travelled a long way, they went quickly because they had horses and wheeled chariots. Each horse could carry two people and they had ox carts to carry their belongings, it was a peaceful journey, we came to know these people as the ‘battle axe’ people, because when they died they were buried with their battle axes.  They seemed to have been very particular about the stone they used to make their battle axes, it was a green stone, with a long, highly polishes axe.  They placed their dead people in the grave with the women with their amber jewellery placed with them and the men with an axe in front of their eyes.  On their journeys the battle axe people found people already settled and living in Europe, these people had lived in Europe for a long time, they know about farming and perhaps they made megalithic tombs.  


The battle axe people weren’t the only visitors, other visited came from as far away as Spain, they were known as the ‘bell beaker’ folk, they had been given this name because of their beautiful bell shaped drinking vessels and we also think they knew about beer. We know they knew about bronze because they had daggers, spears, arrow heads and jewellery made from bronze.  They came to trade bronze-ware with the farmers and settled people, who were happy to trade with anyone, There was enough land for everyone so these groups could settle, mix and marry, out of this there came a new group of people, this group of people spoke that parent language that we know as ‘Proto-Indo-European’.  


About 4,000 years ago it seems as though these people begin to move in different directions, far from the central plains of Europe where they had originally settled. when people move they take their language, customs, songs and stories and their way of life with them, some of theirs people travelled to the East and some to the West.  Would you like to hear more about what happened to their language when they travelled?


So the language has made a very long journey to get all this way.


Notes on the Story of the  families leading to English

Material Description:

Here five charts are used showing how the language families that produced English changed over time. These are none standard Montessori materials and require each teacher to develop their own, so they cannot be included here.  It is necessary to give a story which fits the children’s own language.



It is an impressionistic story designed to appeal to the imaginations and emotions of children.


When to give the lesson:

A little time after ‘The Story of Communication through Signs’.


After the lesson:

Allow the children to reflect on the lives of the people who created our language.


Follow up work:

  • Look at books particularly, ‘The Testament of the Spade’, by Gordon Bibby, the ‘Just so Stories’, buy Rudyard Kipling, to give the idea of change and addition
  • Make a Language Museum, with the numbers 1-10 in Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Gothic and Old English.
  • Show the children examples of changes in spelling, not pronunciation.



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