Chevron Left
Back to Miracles of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Miracles of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics by Universiteit Leiden

1,888 ratings
569 reviews

About the Course

Everywhere, every day, everybody uses language. There is no human society, no matter how small or how isolated, which does not employ a language that is rich and diverse. This course introduces you to linguistics, featuring interviews with well-known linguists and with speakers of many different languages. Join us to explore the miracles of human language! The Miracles of Human Language introduces you to the many-faceted study of languages, which has amazed humans since the beginning of history. Together with speakers of many other languages around the world, as well as with famous linguists such as Noam Chomsky and Adele Goldberg, you will learn to understand and analyse how your native tongue is at the same time similar and different from many other languages. You will learn the basic concepts of linguistics, get to know some of the key features of big and small languages and get insight into what linguists do. This course gives an introduction into the study of languages, the field of linguistics. With the support of the basic linguistic terminology that is offered in the course, you will soon be able to comment both on variety between languages, as well as on a single language’s internal structure. Anyone who wishes to understand how languages work, and how they can give us insight into the human mind is very welcome to join. The course is useful if you want to get a fairly quick introduction into linguistics, for instance because you are considering studying it further, or because you are interested in a neighbouring discipline such as psychology, computer science or anthropology. Furthermore, the course will help you develop analytical skills. If you are curious to understand how language works and how it gives insight into the human mind, this course is definitely for you!...

Top reviews

Sep 23, 2017

Extremely informational, well presented, with questions that stimulate reflection. The optional reading material is food for thought. I hope to see more courses from the same professor and University.

Mar 21, 2019

I've taken a number of online courses on linguistics now, and this one was by and far the best. The material covered is indepth and engaging, and the professor's enthusiam makes the videos a delight.

Filter by:

26 - 50 of 562 Reviews for Miracles of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics

By Reshma R

Apr 20, 2020

This course is by far one of my top favourites (yes, I have a few!) among the courses I have done on Coursera. Prof. Marc van Oostendorp has a way of teaching that has you transfixed in his classes. The structure of the course is dynamic and had me glued to the computer literally binge-watching the lecture videos!

I could do this course once more all over again and would probably say the same thing at the end of it! :D Some of my favourite videos were the ones that had an interview of an expert or a talk-show format. The Professor's teaching assistants have done a great job, as have the others who were featured in the short language-trailer videos.

This course makes for a wonderful experience if anything, I would definitely recommend it to all language and linguistics enthusiasts. :)

By Tejo D K

Sep 1, 2018

This is one of the best courses I have done in my life. I always used to wonder about human languages and how they evolved, and this course answered a lot of my questions and now I am even more interested in the subject as I know the technicalities of linguistics. My special thanks to Professor Marc van Oostendorp who was just amazing and made the topics very interesting and creative. The main reason I completed the course though it has some difficult topics was because of his wonderful teaching and ability to grab my attention. My thanks to Inge and Martin for their discussions and their very thoughtful questions. I will wait for other courses from Leiden University, Thank you for making me more knowledgeable.

By Heather M

Apr 19, 2021

This is the second Coursera course I've completed and I absolutely loved it. I took the Miracles of Human Language course for fun and found myself captivated and immersed in the subject. Prof Marc van Oostendorp and his students were wonderfully informative and I've found myself discussing the interesting nuggets of information I've acquired with friends and work colleagues. One of the great things about Coursera is that you adapt it to the level of learning you require. I'm learning for pleasure, not to gain new academic qualifications, and I felt this course has really enriched my life. I've already recommended it to other people. I'm now looking for my next Coursera challenge. Thanks Marc and team.

By Issa H

Oct 20, 2019

The course was very informative and enjoyable. The professor is clear and to the point and I liked his style and logic. The course is well rounded and the course creators have put a lot of effort into designing it and making it engaging. I loved the discussions with Martin and Inge and the opportunity they were give to conduct the interviews. The readings were enjoyable and it was nice to see prof. Noam Chomsky in one of the interviews. I liked the visit to the lab video. This course was quite lovely and the instructors and the students alike are passionate about it. I guess this goes to show that people who choose this field do so because they are so passionate about it.

By Julie B

Feb 21, 2021

Really well designed. Great topics and a nice balance of videos and readings. I did not enjoy the ethnologue part as much, but that it is me. I found the discussion prompts excellent and very beneficial for thinking more deeply on the subject. I also liked they way they are set up. I wonder, if anyone had replied to one of my posts, would I have seen it? I replied to several people with thoughtful answer and don't know if they saw my answers. Finally, I think it would be nice to receive a final grade for the course, even if it doesn't truly count for anything, it's a satisfying feeling. Thank you for all your efforts. I truly appreciated the course. Great job!

By Jeremy I

Jun 5, 2020

It is a well-built course with a competent and engaging instructor. I appreciated particularly the varation in content that was offered: normal videos, discussions, interviews with experts of the field and the videos of the informants. The latter provided interesting insights in foreign languages that one usually doesn't get to hear and I was amazed by the big varations between them. Both the required and optional readings are useful for having additional resources and the 2-month free access to Ethnlogue provided by Leiden University is also very nice for everyone that wants to explore further the fascinating world of languages.

By Nicklas K

Nov 17, 2020

An informative introduction to linguistics! I enjoyed the sample languages provided, and especially the dialogues from renowned experts in the field such as Labov and Chomsky. I do wish, however, there had been more discussion about ongoing research, career/education pathways, and applied linguistics itself. (I am an ESL teacher considering a more stable future for myself.) Overall, my sincerest thanks to Marc, Inge, Marten, and all the language informants for providing this quality content to folks like me in dire need of some mental stimulation during this lockdown. I wish you all the very best. -Nick

By Shayo

Oct 9, 2017

This was my first Coursera course and I found it immensely informative and interesting. Professor van Oostendorp seems to have a genuine enthusiasm for linguistics, which made working through the modules rather enjoyable. I also greatly appreciated the extras (i.e. discussions with his students, interviews, etc.) as they really helped to solidify my understanding of the material. My only quibble is I wish the correct answers were provided after completion of each quiz, as this would have helped with my review. But overall, I loved this course and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in linguistics!

By Isadora S V d R U

Jul 5, 2016

A wonderful course on principles in Linguistics presented by this lovely professor Dr. Marc van Oostendorp and enriched with the discussions with Marten and Inge. As a Linguistics and Literature student, I felt that they found what was a very nice way to spread this knowledge and, in my case, a more concise discipline in which I could refresh my memory for somethings but also get to know new informations and different points of view and, at last, as an observer from Brazil, to compare a little how these things are discussed here from there. Thank you very much for the hard work and the entousiasm!

By Iushchencko A

Jun 26, 2016

I would like to say an enormous "Thank You" to everyone who contributed to this Course to be accessible: to professor Marc van Oostendorp, to Marten and Inge, to informants, to translators, redactors, designers and all whom I didn't mention but who were those thanks to whom we now know all we know and share this with others! The Course specifically opened to me that our living in four walls and thinking about ourselfs mostly hides us from all the beatiful unknown things happening in the world: from other cultures, other ways of looking at things! Indeed, folks, live in peace, let it be so!

By Diana C

Oct 9, 2020

No tengo formación en el área, no hablo inglés y sin embargo me divertí muchísimo. El profesor van Oostendorp y sus estudiantes Inge y Martin resultaron muy buenos conductores de un proceso que me permitió: rectificar mis nociones básicas, conocer la variedad de soluciones/caminos que es capaz de idear el ser humano y asomarme al trabajo de especialistas.

Los recursos disponibilizados, lejos de ser banales, tampoco imponen niveles inalcanzables. Agradezco especialmente la transcripción (aunque sea en inglés), de otra manera, no hubiera podido completar el curso.

By Christopher L

Dec 30, 2016

It is very nice to see an introductory course in linguistics, especially for it being free and available online. I would not have had an opportunity like that anywhere here locally, which makes this course special to me. The instructor and his pupils were paramount to the learning experience, and with the addition of interviews and recommended readings, this course excels in tactically defining and showing what linguists do and what they study. I want to thank Leiden University and Marc van Oostendorp for providing such a professionally delivered MOOC.

By Sandeep V

Jul 16, 2020

Excellent introduction to the subject of linguistics. Thoroughly enjoyed my time with this course, and it has piqued my interest in taking this further.

I loved the way Prof Dr van Oostendorp presents this course, with genuine interest, understanding, humour and nuance. I really liked the teaching style and would love to have more contact with him. And I also liked the way Marten and Inge were part of the course, and how they interacted with the professor and with me.

The course is structured well and is easy to finish even while one has a day job.

By Tyson W

Jun 17, 2016

Miracles of Human Language is a wonderful introduction to the field of linguistics. Prof.dr. M. van Oostendorp is an adept and engaging lecturer and his knowledge of his field is vast. His discussions with Marten and Inge were engaging and his interactions with the language informants was, well... informing! I only wish I could contribute a language to his MOOC as well as participate in his research and work at Universiteit Leiden. Thank you, Dr. van Oostendorp, Marten, Inge, Roberta, Khalid, Han, Varun, Enoch, and Beste. It's been quite a ride!

By Nina

Jul 10, 2020

Teaching is not an easy job, even more so online, but this course was so well done with diverse course materials, various speakers and especially such an enthusiastic teacher. Probably one of the best course I had in my entire education. I wish there was a module specifically about language history, because that's what I'm interested in the most, but really it's a great introduction to a field that was very foreign to me. Too bad there isn't more course about linguistics on here, but at least we're given reading recommendations to follow up.

By Nicte C

Oct 25, 2020

I absolutely loved this course!! I had no idea what Linguistics really was, and this course explained it perfectly. The Professor is extraordinary. It is very well structured, clearly explained, the part of the informants is very illustrative but sometimes difficult to interpret, which makes it all the more challenging. The exams are very tough so you have to study a lot, which is great,, because a free course doesn't mean that it will be easy. I wish there were more courses on this subject by the same institution, it was fantastic.

By Daniela Z

Jun 21, 2020

An excellent course. Easy to follow, easy to understand, and it encourages you to comment and have dialogues in the forum for every topic. The quizzes are a little bit hard, but that's expected from a well thought out and put up course made by university professors. It has been really fun to follow for six weeks, which I think is a well designed period to learn the basics of Linguistics. Also, it has a lot of videos of informants with different languages so it's very diverse. Thank you so much. I'll revisit these contents later.

By Rahul M S

Sep 19, 2020

The professor taught the material in a very clear and understandable way. Having live examples using various language informants was also very informative (the only qualm I would have is that the Mandarin Chinese videos should be transliterated in a more readable format, most of it was incomprehensible due to my unfamiliarity with any aspect of the language). The reading material and books were also really interesting. Overall, I learnt a great deal in this course and I think I have a better idea of the field of linguistics.

By G S S

Aug 19, 2020

I wholeheartedly like to thank Dr. Marc van Oostendorp and his team for presenting this MOOC course is the best possible manner. I really gained good knowledge and developed lots and lots of interest toward language and linguistics. This course has almost covered major aspects of human language and linguistics. In my opinion this course gives a very good platform for those who would like do research in Language and Linguistics. Interviews with some of the eminent persons in the field Language and Linguistics was excellent.

By Emily H

Oct 3, 2016

I found the course very informative, there was quite a lot of information in there for only six weeks of study but it didn't feel overwhelming either. Professor Marc van Oostendorp was very engaging in his presentation of the material, and I liked the fact that his students were there to ask questions as well. I also liked how the language informants were used - I was able to practice what I had learned in the other videos by analysing their speech patterns. Overall, I was quite impressed by this course.

By Yuchen L

Jan 30, 2020

This is my first Coursera course and I love it. The course is student-friendly with classes elaborately designed and informative with lots of source readings. The forum is one of the best parts of the course. I learn how to think questions like a linguist. And from informants of different background, I know there are so many interesting languages existing in our world. As the course name shows that it is an introduction to Linguistics, my interests towards the linguistics is well developed. Thank you.

By adkaufman1968

Aug 4, 2020

This was a really wonderful online course - the best I've done yet (and I've done many).

The content was fascinating, varied and challenging and the lecturer's passion for his subject and learning in general was a pleasure to share.

I particularly liked the use of informants which gave real examples of languages and the discussion aspect, although personally I got very little feedback for my comments.

No matter, this is an exemplary online course and a brilliant introduction into the field.


By Kévin S

Jan 16, 2020

Excellent course ! Professor van Oostendorp is a good pedagogue and the discussions of Marten and Inje put well in perspective the knowledge acquired ! As a future practitioner (English teaching and coaching), this MOOC was an exceptional source of information for me and will definitely help me in explaining better the way languages work and are shaped.

In addition, I would be happy if there were other courses by the University of Leiden to learn more about specific aspects/subjects of linguistics

By Hugo E G L

Apr 13, 2017

Overall, this course was a great experience. As a student of English as a second language, trust me when I say that it helped me a lot with the subject "linguistics" at college. Nonetheless, I must say that this course was tough! I don’t know, maybe, because English is not my mother tongue but at times I certainly felt that I couldn’t keep up with some of the assignments. Nevertheless, if you give your best, you will make it. Also, if you are looking for a challenge…. well, this is your course.

By Cher R

Nov 13, 2016

I enjoyed this challenging course on linguistics. I appreciated that the course materials were available as one file so I could both read the text and watch the videos. The videos contained a quiz inside that kept me engaged. The interviews and Q&A sessions were a valuable way to present new information. I obtained two books from the suggested reading material to further my learning. In the end, I bought the certificate as a way to say thanks to the team for such a great course. Bravo!