Computer Science and English

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!

Reading List

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.

Computing Jokes

Here are lots of jokes about computing – play with language and learn about computing.

Computing and Poetry

Here are lots of ways to link poetry and computer science including poems inspired by computer science or technology; writing creative poet programs; algorithmic poems that can be implemented as programs, and more.

Activity Sheets and Booklets

The following activities draw out issues on the links between language, linguistics and computer science.

  • Writing fictional personas to support design
    • Personas are a design tool used to help designers design to solve real problems of real people. Write one as the basis of an app or gadget design.
  • Emoticon Poems
    • Write a poem about emotions that includes emoticons
  • 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.
  • The Ancient Greek Scytale
    • Make a simple Ancient Greek device for encrypting messages – its just a cylinder, then write, send and read secret messages.

Magazines to download

The following magazines include articles that draw on the links between English and computing.

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:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.