The story of English starts more than a thousand years ago. Richard goes to the British Library to hear – and see – how the language has changed over the years.

Task 1

Which of these things do Richard and Roger discuss at the British Library?


Task 2

Type in the missing words or numbers.


Task 3

Can you turn these SMS messages into correct English?


Task 4

Choose the best phrasal verb to complete the sentence.






Thanks a lot, though I have problems with the videos. I think Chinese is a kind of language which is difficult to understand. But I think there's no language that is easy to learn or to speak. I'm not sure if Middle English means Medieval English. I think Medieval English is quite different from modern English. I have ever learned English literature for a short time. And I could only read the poems or dramas together with the notes to them. I think there will be more new English words in the future, and learning English will be more difficult.

English is a beautiful language and I want to learn and improve my language skills.

I new here. This site is very beautiful. I can learn English and see fantastic movie. Learn English with British council is great. Congratulation an the founder.

Hello!I like this site so much, but I'm a teacher and very often I need to download videos for my students!How can I do it????

Hello Marunysechka,

We're glad to hear that you use LearnEnglish with your students, but I'm afraid that many of our videos, these included, are not available for download due to being under copyright.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Is there any possibility of downloading videos?

Hello Dasha,

I'm afraid that these videos are not available for download due to being under copyright. Most of our podcasts and the How to... videos are, however, available for download in iTunes (just search for 'British Council LearnEnglish' in the iTunes store).

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot. This video is amazing. I got to know many things about English.

I'm stuying English in Morocco. Thank you Richard, this is an elightening video about English!.

How many things I can learn with these videos! Thanks a lot.
I don't know a lot about Italian language. But I know that there's a discipline that studies the evolution of the language, I don't know exactly the name. I think it's very interesting: many words that have different meaning in the past, or words that now are not very common in use.
I remember that in some English poems instead of "you" it was written "thou", wasn't it? But I couldn't read anything in old English.
What about the future? I think many words will not be used anymore and they will leave the place to new others, especially because of new technology, economy and other new sciences.