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From basic to advanced

Everybody knows that English is an important language. Billions* of people worldwide speak and understand English. You will become one of them soon! You already know some English because you hear people sing in English on the radio, you hear people speak English in films and in games and you have probably already had some lessons in English in primary school*. The level* of English that most Dutch* children have when they start secondary school* is A1, that means basic level.

There are six levels in total (see left)

Your goals

Your goal is to go from basic level to pre-intermediate by the end of your second year. After that you will strive to become an intermediate student and, depending on your level of education, to become a reasonably to very advanced user of English so you will be well prepared for HBO or university education.

Words are the building blocks* of any language. Grammar can be seen as the mortar*. Words + grammar build a base for mastering a language.
*Wordlist: Billions = miljarden
primary school = basis school
level = niveau
Dutch = Nederlandse
secondary school = middelbare school
building blocks = bouwstenen
mortar = cement

A brief history of the English language

Before AD (Anno Domini: het jaar van De Heer = het jaar nul) a people called ‘the Celts’ inhabited the islands now called Great Britain and Ireland. The language spoken by these people still lives on in Wales, Scotland and Ireland where besides English, Welsh or Gaelic is spoken. These are Celtic languages that are completely unlike modern English. Listen and decide for yourself. After AD the Romans came to the isles and ruled for a few centuries, but not so many Latin words survived in modern English. By 450 AD the Roman Empire had collapsed and the Romans retreated from Great Britain and the Celts had the isles for themselves again, but not for long. Soon Germanic tribes from the north of The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark crossed the Channel. Three tribes: the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes were very influential and the Celts had to flee (vluchten) to areas like the west of Wales and the north of Scotland; mountainous and inhospitable (onherbergzame) areas where they would be left alone. The Highlands is still famous for Celtic traditions. The Anglo-Saxons took over the country.


The name ‘England’ derives from the Angles. The Germanic tribes came from areas where people spoke a language not very unlike Dutch. Did you know that Frisian (Fries) is the language most similar to English? Or most similar to Old English, the archetype (oervorm) of modern English. You still find many remains of this old type of English in modern English. Some of the most used words are words that were used by the Ango-Saxons and therefore often quite similar to Dutch and even more similar to the language of our fellow countrymen from Friesland.

Common words

This is a Top-100 list of the most commonly used words in English

Only four words from this list don’t derive from Old English. The rest is all directly related to our own language, do you see the resemblance? The odd ones out are: ‘they’, ‘their’ and ‘them’, these words were introduced by the Vikings at the end of the 8th century AD. They conquered a great part of eastern and northern Britain and left some of their Norwegian/Danish words behind, so it is thanks to them we still use them today. Listed at 76 in our ‘top one hundred’ is the word ‘number’. This word derives from (stamt uit) French. In 1066 the Normans (Normandiërs) invaded Great Britain. They spoke French and this language had a huge impact on English. Old English changed into Middle-English because of it.

The word ‘word’ is a Germanic word. ‘Vocabulary’ is of French descent (oorsprong) and was added to the language after The Norman Conquest (de overwinning van de Normandiërs). It still took a few centuries before modern English evolved (ontstond), this was in William Shakespeare’s day and age actually. Do you know in which century he lived?

To be or not to be?

William Shakespeare invented many words and because he is still recognised as the most famous writer in English history, his work is still read today. He wrote drama (toneelstukken) and poetry (poëzie) that is still popular with very many people. Yet, in our English classes we do not just talk about Shakespeare and the past. On the contrary, we try to involve today’s English culture in our lessons as often as we can.

All over the world

Moreover, English has outgrown England and the UK since the 19th and 20th centuries. We are, therefore, also interested in what happens in the US, Canada and Australia. Furthermore, English is the dominant ‘lingua franca’ nowadays, which means more people from outside English-speaking countries use it to communicate with others. Well, we try to bring such a broad notion of English as a world language with a long and interesting history into our classrooms and we do that with books, music, newspapers, films, news programmes, discussions and debates and various other media and forums. Our aim is to use English as a wonderful tool to communicate with and to treat it as an expression of very mixed and miscellaneous cultures that flavour it as such an interesting language. We hope that our pupils will become just as enthusiastic as we are to talk about our past, our present and our future in an increasingly English speaking world.

So, come to HLZ and lets start talking!