How to Study Linguistics Outside of the University


Linguistics, the scientific study of language, is a fascinating field that delves into the structure, meaning, and use of language. While traditionally studied within the confines of a university, there are now numerous resources and strategies available for those looking to explore this subject on their own. In this article, we will guide you through various ways to study linguistics outside of the university setting.

1. Online Courses and MOOCs

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have made education more accessible than ever before. Platforms like Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy offer courses from universities and institutions around the world. You can find introductory courses on linguistics as well as more specialized topics such as sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and historical linguistics. These courses often include video lectures, readings, quizzes, and peer-reviewed assignments, providing a comprehensive learning experience.

2. Books and Textbooks

There are countless books on linguistics catering to all levels of interest and expertise. Start with introductory textbooks such as “The Study of Language” by George Yule or “An Introduction to Language” by Victoria Fromkin, Robert Rodman, and Nina Hyams. For those interested in specific branches of linguistics, there are specialized books available, such as “Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society” by Peter Trudgill.

3. Academic Journals and Articles

Academic journals are a treasure trove of linguistic research. Websites like Google Scholar and JSTOR provide access to a vast array of articles and papers. While some content may be behind paywalls, many institutions and authors make their work available for free. Reading academic articles can be challenging, but they offer deep insights into specific linguistic phenomena and the latest research in the field.

4. Language Learning

Linguistics is not just about studying language from a theoretical perspective; it’s also about understanding how languages work in practice. Learning a new language can provide valuable insights into linguistic concepts such as phonetics, syntax, and semantics. Use language learning apps, take a local language course, or find a language exchange partner to practice with.

5. Linguistics Blogs and Websites

There are numerous blogs and websites dedicated to linguistics, run by both professionals and enthusiasts. These platforms often provide accessible explanations of linguistic concepts, discussions of language in the media, and analyses of linguistic phenomena in various languages. Some popular linguistics blogs include Language Log, All Things Linguistic, and The Linguist List.

6. Podcasts and YouTube Channels

For auditory learners, there are several podcasts and YouTube channels that cover linguistic topics. “Lingthusiasm” and “The History of English Podcast” are great options for those looking to learn more about the history and diversity of languages. YouTube channels like “The Ling Space” and “Tom Scott’s Language Files” provide engaging and informative videos on a variety of linguistic topics.

7. Join a Linguistics Community

Connecting with other linguistics enthusiasts can provide support, resources, and opportunities for discussion. Look for online forums, social media groups, or local meetups where you can connect with others who share your interest in linguistics. Participating in these communities can also help you stay updated on the latest news and developments in the field.

8. Practice Linguistic Analysis

Put your knowledge to the test by analyzing linguistic data on your own. You can find linguistic corpora online, which are databases of text or spoken language that have been collected for research purposes. Analyze the data to observe patterns, test hypotheses, or simply satisfy your curiosity about how language works.

9. Attend Workshops and Conferences

While some linguistic conferences may be geared towards academics, many are open to the public or offer student rates for attendance. Workshops and conferences provide opportunities to learn from experts in the field, network with other linguistics enthusiasts, and stay up-to-date on the latest research.

10. Explore Linguistic Diversity

Linguistics is not just about studying English or other widely spoken languages. Explore the linguistic diversity of the world by learning about endangered languages, pidgins and creoles, and regional dialects. Resources like the Endangered Languages Project and Ethnologue can provide information on thousands of languages from around the world.


Studying linguistics outside of the university is not only possible, but it is also a rewarding endeavor that can deepen your understanding of language and its role in society. By utilizing online resources, engaging with linguistic communities, and practicing linguistic analysis, you can embark on a journey of linguistic discovery on your own terms. Whether you are a language enthusiast, a language learner, or simply curious about the workings of language, the world of linguistics is open to you.