Introduction to Linguistics (FutureLearn)

Online Introduction to Linguistics course is offered by the University of Birmingham and provided by FutureLearn.

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Introduction to Linguistics (FutureLearn)

Get an introduction to linguistics and discover how research is transforming our understanding of language. Find out how language works through linguistics. Language is fundamental to our everyday social interactions, our politics and culture, and our thoughts. We all have ideas about how language works, but what separates our own intuitions from linguistic knowledge?

In this Introduction to Linguistics course, you’ll get an introduction to the main approaches used in linguistic research, including linguistic experiments and discourse analysis.

  • You’ll find out about the key methods used in linguistic descriptions, and some of the everyday ‘myths’ about language.
  • You’ll discover how linguistic researchers turn our ideas about language into linguistic knowledge.


Week 1

This week is about how human beings (and some other animals) make meaning with our voices and with our hands. We cover:

  • Some fundamental concepts in the study of language and communication;
  • Language and gesture;
  • Sign languages;
  • Relations between human languages and other animal communication.

Week 2

  • The use of grammar experiments to investigate language learning;
  • The use of eye-tracking technology to investigate language processing;
  • Big data dialectology.

Week 3

This week is about how linguistic concepts and methods can be applied to a range of problems. We cover:

  • How metaphor and metonymy can shed light on communication in everyday and educational contexts;
  • The stories we tell about social and political events;
  • The language of literature.

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3 Weeks

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3 Weeks

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