The best computer scientists aren’t just good at writing code, they are good at writing english too. Any graduate does – being good at communicating is part of the job. Computation can also support literacy by opening up a whole new way of playing with words.
There’s a whole new breed of computer scientists that are interested in English in a deep way. They are in the business of understanding how people communicate so that computers can better understand us – so they can make computers communicate in naturally human ways for example.
Other computer scientists are applying computational thinking to the practice of English: trying to invent algorithms that encapsulate what creative writing is all about: creating programs that can write stories, love letters, jokes, tweets…
The overlap between English and Computer Science is where all the creativity is!
Here is our reading list of brilliant books to read that go well beyond just computing.
Computational Thinking Tales
Some fairy (and not-so-fairy) tales about computational thinking to read. Encourage your students to write (and send us) their own computational thinking tales.
Here are lots of jokes about computing – play with language and learn about computing.
Pseudocode poems are poems that also work as programs.
Activity Sheets and Booklets
The following activities draw out issues on the links between language, linguistics and computer science.
- Magical Book Magic
- A booklet describing a magic trick based on an intriguing computational property about words. Turn Macbeth, The Wizard of Oz, The Cat in the Hat (or some other book of your choice) into both reading fun and computational fun.
- “I don’t think reading a book is ever again going to be quite the same experience.”
- Write a program to write love letters, christmas greetings or postcards for you
- Use a set of cards and templates to create an algorithm that generates love letters, writes post cards or christmas cards. Then write a Python program to do the same. Learn about nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc
- Word Search Puzzles
- A series of puzzles on computing topics that involve thinking about search algorithms as well as words.
- Kriss-Kross Puzzles
- Solve these word puzzles as a way to develop logical thinking and pattern matching skills needed to enjoy both computing and maths, while practicing spelling. Use phonic based ones like our snake-snail–day Kriss-Kross as fun practice reading words.
- Compressed Code Puzzles
- Puzzles that involve unravelling compressed messages: ones hold the same information with fewer symbols.
Magazines to download
The following magazines include articles that draw on the links between English and computing.
- Clean up your language: Issue 16 of cs4fn Magazine
- In this issue we look at lots of ways language, lingusitics and computer science overlap.
- Machines that are creative: Issue 18 of cs4fn Magazine
- In this issue we look at machines being creative and that includes creative writing from algorithms that write stories to ones that write love letters and tweets.
- Creative Computing: Issue 22 of cs4fn Magazine
- In this issue we look at how computers can be creative, support creativity and provide a new medium for creativity. Several articles explore programs that write: stories, slogans, explanations.
cs4fn magazines to support literacy
Some schools use cs4fn magazines to support literacy, for example including physical copies in literacy boxes or having copies in the openly displayed in the library.
UK schools can order free copies (including class sets) of magazines as they come out via the form on the cs4fn website. The pdfs of back issues of all our magazines can also be downloaded from the website. Thousands of cs4fn articles including all magazine articles (and many more) are also available as individual pages on the cs4fn website. There are several ways to explore cs4fn eg
cs4fn subject portal
There are lots of fun articles on the cs4fn about computer science and lingusitics. See the portals: