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Admission requirements



In response to a growing awareness about language endangerement and language death, language documentation has developed in the last two decades as a new area in linguistics. It encompasses the collection and preservation of primary linguistic data. This course will introduce the concept of language documentation and will train students to conduct high quality language documentation themselves. After discussing the reasons and motivations for doing language documentation, students will become acquainted with documentation using a hands-on approach. After being trained to do so, students will collect primary linguistic data, transcribe it, annotate it, and archive it, using the software ELAN. In other words, during this course students will conduct a mini-documentation project of their own.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • discuss the motivations for conducting language documentation

  • perform high-quality audio and video recordings of primary linguistic data

  • manage (i.e. transcribe and annotate) the collected data using computer software

  • compile metadata based on the primary data collected and how it has been processed

  • conduct a documentation project


The timetable will be available by June 1st at the website of Linguistics

Mode of instruction

This course will be taught in seminars, with heavy emphasis on practical excercises. Depending on students’ timetables, a day excursion to a rural setting near Leiden might be made in order to simulate collecting data in the field.

Course Load

The course load for this course is 140 hours.

Hours spent on attending seminars: 28 hours (2 hours a week x 14 weeks)
Hours spent on reading the compulsory literature: 50
Hours spent on completing small assignments: 15
Hours spent on completing documentation project: 47

Assessment method

This course will be assessed on three components: two types of small assignements and a documentation project.

The small assignments are short weekly practical exercises (20%) and an in-class presentation (20%). The documentation project (60%) will be the main assessment, but students will complete it in sections throughout the duration of the course.


Yes. Blackboard

Reading list

Most of the course readings will consist of chapters of:

Gippert, Jost, Himmelmann, Nikolaus P., Mosel, Ulrike (2006). Essentials of Language Documentation. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.


Students are requested to register for the course and the examination through uSis

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website
for information on how to apply.

Application for A la Carte
Application for Contractonderwijs

After application, students are requested to register for courses and exams through uSis

Contact information

For further information contact M. Kohlberger, M.A


The course will be taught in English, but the students’ proficiency in English will play no role in assessment.