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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

2,262 ratings

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.


Nov 29, 2021

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.

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551 - 575 of 682 Reviews for Miracles of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics

By Pathematica

Jul 22, 2021

I took ths course out of interest rather than to make progress in a career. It provides an interesting survey of several topics in linguistics, which assists in choosing other material for further private study. Given the shortness of the course, some of the material is relatively superficial but that is unavoidable in these circumstances. Professor van Oostendorp is enthusiastic and entertaining as well as informative. He has recruited two students to assist in presenting the material, both of whom are engaging and useful additions. They provide a natural way to foster dialogues with the professor, presumably in an attempt to capture a sense of the importance of discussion and debate (rather than mere didactism) in academic study and they succeed magnificently in this task. In particular, they pose well-considered and well-phrased questions whose answers prompt epiphanies in understanding.

By Jacqui A

Sep 8, 2019

I have enjoyed this course although being a somewhat deaf beginner I found the modules on the sounds of, and the mechanics of making, consonants along with the videos of the informants, somewhat frustrating.

. Plus I really struggled with Module 6 and Politeness Theory and am not totally sure that it actually added anything to the course, at least for me.

I read a number of reviews before I started this course, in which people were complaining about the quizzes and although some of the questions were relatively easy, they were not all just about ticking boxes, but actually reading and understanding the intent of the questions. I was a beginner with little previous studied knowledge of the subject.

The Professor was enthusiastic and engaging.

Thank you

By DieDiachFort! D

Jul 19, 2021

Probably the #1 online course for anyone looking to understand the basics of linguistics. Dr. Oostendorp explains many of the topics very well, and his 2 student guests asked a lot of thought-provoking questions during the discussion lectures. Also, I feel like the weekly assessments were difficult enough to promote strong recall and understanding of the week's information, but also not disproportionately hard. On a personal note, this course let me look at all the subfields within linguistics and decide what I was most interested in so I could find further resources and continue enjoying learning. However, I'm only giving a 4 star(probably closer to a 4.5) since i feel like certain topics could've been talked about more, like syntax and syntax trees.

By Ana S T P

Nov 6, 2016

I liked the couse a lot, but I think the quizzes are very tricky and there are questions that you have to deduce more than to know. This is OK as part of learning, but it turns a little difficult when English is not your first language. Also, there were some errors in the quizzes, especially in week 3 and 4. It's very interesting to listen to the informants, but I find difficult to answer the questions about them. I'm not familiar with those languages and it's very hard, and I think that's not the point of the course, like to know how to say "grandma" in Abruzzese or how many ways there are to say "son" in Chinese. So, it may be taken into consideration. Anyways, I really liked the course and I hope it can grow for the best. Thank you!

By Rosangela O

Mar 20, 2021

This is the first course I did with Coursera, and I chose it for curiosity and for general interest in languages. Also, it is still COVID-19 pandemic time, and I want to do something besides working from home.

I did enjoy the course. I completed it, but I am not doing the final assignment and the peer review.

I had fun taking the test more than once to pass the course, but it bothered me not to finding the right answer for the questions, even if I tried different options. I would like to have access to the right answer to understand why I did not get it right.

I appreciated to have the transcript of each course as well.



By Koko P

Jan 30, 2023

The course is a good introduction to linguistics, but I found the quiz questions random and often difficult to understand because of poor phrasing. There doesn't seem to be any monitoring of the discussions by anybody associated with Leiden University anymore, so questions and issues go unanswered. This is unfortunately the nature of this platform, I suppose. Despite that frustration, I found the course interesting, informative, and manageable. The module on neuro- and psycholinguistics was extremely well done and exciting. I would recommend the course for anybody who is interested in exploring linguistics.

By Julie J

Feb 20, 2018

I really enjoyed the content of this course. It really was a fascinating introduction and I feel I have learnt so much. It has made me hungry to learn more in some ways but less in others (as I found some parts quite technical and tricky but felt proud when I finally worked out the answers!). The Professor is very personable and the lectures are well presented. I did not personally have time to do the Peer assessments but would have liked to. Thank you to all involved. i chose this course as it interested me but it was by chance from Leiden university which is where I live. I felt more connected somehow.

By Joyce v H

Feb 1, 2021

This was a very informative introduction into linguistics. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg, but the topics where are relevant and challenging. Because of the limited time a course offers, I do think the course lacks some coherence between topics.

I would've liked more exercises of analyzing language of the informants. That was good practice and I learned a lot from it.

I also would like to do the peer assignments, but I missed some more interaction between other participants to do so.

All things considered this was time well spent and I would love to learn more about linguistics after this.

By Mirko M

Jun 12, 2018

Professor van Oostendorp was a big plus and asset to this course. I would have really liked to have him as a professor at the Uni. I'm not giving 5 stars because I believe the estimated workload (in terms of time) for the mandatory reading material is at times vastly underestimated (like with the article on typology in module 1 and the audio lecture in module 6, for instance). Additionally, the way the forum is now, it is basically impossible to keep track of your own contributions and others' replies, which fatally undermines interaction between course participants.

By Grace T

Aug 2, 2022

I found the information and structure of this course to be very entertaining and engaging! The only problem is with the quizzes, though this is partly due to the way Coursera formats them. I had to retake most of them multiple times, either because their were actual problems with the answer (and as the forums will tell you they have not been fixed for years) or because they are worded sometimes quite tricky. Otherwise, I learned a ton and feel I have a much stronger base on the subject than before hand. Concepts are taught in memorable ways.

By Laurent G

Jan 19, 2018

I think this course was very interesting, and quite frankly it would deserve a 4.5 stars rating. My only (light) remark would be that I would have hoped more details on the research studies the teacher presents. It's only at the very end, in the society and linguistics part that we get to see some detailed results from an academic study. Also, I would have liked more on historical linguistics, but I know that was not part of the initial curriculum. Overall, kudos to Leiden University's linguistic team, this was a great course.

By Emil M

Aug 8, 2016

The course is a lightweight introduction to Linguistics. If you are absolutely new to linguistics, it will provide you with enough information for further research and self-development. There are some really interesting facts provided by the required reading of the course.

What I mostly liked about the course is the list of additional literature. What I mostly didn't like are quizzes - I little bit too reliant on the question formulation. The only quiz that I really liked was about syntactic analysis of informants' sentences.

By M C

Aug 7, 2020

I appreciate that the videos were intentionally taken at close range and they have transcriptions that I can read when I am losing my focus. I learned so much from this course and it has inspired me to further analyze and understand my own languages and my own culture. The quizzes are challenging but that is how to make tests! I am inspired to formulate quizzes about my mother tongue following Coursera's pattern. Thank you!

By Simon C

Sep 25, 2020

I really enjoyed the course and learnt a lot; I particular appreciated it as it helped me understand more of the issues I faced when learning languages. I particular enjoyed the prcatical aspect, not the theorectical so much: I was completely baffled by the section on "face" and would have appreciated a fuller explanation & more examples. The course videos were well made and engaging.

Thank you for a great course!

By Nihar M

Jun 5, 2021

It was an excellent course with lots of essential information. However, I wished the information in the interviews was more structured, as it was taken into account that few of us are actual beginners in linguistics. Also, I wish the tests did not use questions involving memorising examples by language informants said, because not only is it another language, there are many examples from 6 different languages.

By Soroosh A

Jul 8, 2018

This course does a decent job of covering the main pillars of linguistics and puts the theories into practice by giving us a chance to apply our learnings of each module to real-life languages, and it even includes native speakers of those languages.If you're new to linguistics or want to brush up on your previous learnings, this course is definitely a great supplementary resource.

By Josef P

Aug 22, 2016

A great course, it contains very broad discussion of the problems of linguistics.

Quite demanding quizes force students to watch videos carefully and to read the required reading. This leads to better understanding of the matter.

The videos in the course are great too, the explanation of prof. Oostendorp is very lively and entertaining. The interviews with specialists are unique.

By Bettina R

Nov 29, 2020

I think that the course was a great introduction to Linguistics, the world of languages. I very much enjoyed all the lectures and especially the interviews of the different Languages Specialists.

The Questions in the exams were not that easy. I would have liked to get real feedback and the correct answers to all the questions.

Thank you for the possibility to study online!

By Michelle B

Mar 20, 2017

Excellent course, though I found it difficult. The exercises that required listening to students speaking different languages were particularly hard for me, probably because I speak only English and my ear is poor. Nevertheless, I persevered and feel I got a great deal from the course. I would like to take the next course in the sequence, if there were one.

By laura d

Oct 7, 2017

really good and interesting, the quizzes (especailly the final one) were a bit irritating when you had to keep flicking back to previous videos on the same page (the language informants); I felt that the final quiz should have been exclusively what has been lerned rather than going back to langauge informant videos. But otherwise, a fantastic free resource.

By Erman A

Nov 22, 2022

The videos are not too long to distract the learners' attention. The content is inspiring and enough to wet the appetite of the audience who like to search more and learn more.

One defect could be the quizzes. They are not testee-friendly, avoiding constructive feedback. You have to retake the same questions even if you answered them correctly.


By Rafael C

Apr 11, 2020

An excellent course providing a strong basis in the technical areas of linguistics, particulary useful when you have prior nowledge in a cognitive science.

Nonetheless, some questions of the test tend to be a bit confusing and would benefit from a little revision - but the tests remain doable!

A very interesting course, completely worth your time.

By zanko r

Oct 1, 2020

This course provides a comprehensive and authoritative introduction to linguistics, including a wide range of topics, such as syntax, semantics, morphology, and psycholinguistics. The theories are explained in a very clear manner, and the different interviews enlighten the learner and inspire him to pursue linguistics with ever greater passion.

By Liu M

Aug 23, 2016

Firstly, I'd like to thank the professor for bringing us such a great class on linguistics! The course gives a general introduction on what linguistics is about in quite a balanced depth, not too deep to scare people away while not too shallow that you may feel boring. The missing star is due to some vague instructions of quizzes.

By Olivia C

Jan 4, 2017

I learned very much in this course, and I am thankful for the opportunity to have taken it. I found some of the quiz questions to be unnecessarily difficult because of how specific they were to the videos of the language informants, but overall, I enjoyed the course and the wide range of supplemental materials that are offered.