Applied Language Technology: A No-Nonsense Approach

Here is a free entry-level applied natural language processing course that can fit into any beginner's roadmap to understanding NLP. Check it out.


Dr. Tuomo Hiippala, Assistant Professor in English Language and Digital Humanities in the Department of Languages at the University of Helsinki, has shared his videos and other learning materials for a pair of courses that he teaches, all in a single website for those looking to learn Applied Language Technology.

While it appears that some of the material is not available to users beyond the University, specifically at least one hosted instance of the course code notebooks, besides the course website, the videos are all available in a single playlist as well.

Here is a high-level overview of what you can expect from these courses:

Together, these two courses provide an introduction to applied language technology for audiences who are unfamiliar with language technology and programming. The learning materials assume no previous knowledge of the Python programming language.



The material is broken down into 3 major top-level learning components:

  • Part I: A Minimal Introduction to Python
  • Part II: Working with Text in Python
  • Part III: Natural Language Processing for Linguists

The material has a language focus and emerges from the field of linguistics — in contrast to a technology focus, emerging from the field of computer science — as evidenced by the following, which is a different perspective from most natural language processing courses and learning materials I have done my best to highlight in the past:

Instead of treating text simply as data and a source of some information to be extracted, these learning materials emphasise text as the product of linguistic processes, which are inextricably related to language use in society. If you are already familiar with language technology, these materials may hopefully broaden your perspectives on language.


But don't let that fool you; you will be delving into the technologies available via existing tools in the Python ecosystem to work on applied language tasks. What this means, notably, is that you will use existing libraries to accomplish these goals, as opposed to writing your own implementations of NLP algorithms, a fact which which should not be surprising given the applied nature of this course.

Also, you should not be intimidated by anything covered. Hiippala starts slowly with basic Python, moves on to how to think about text in relation to technology, and then on to more advanced applied NLP, so there is a lot of hand-holding and explanation along the way. This course assume no knowledge of either the technological or linguistic sides of this equation, and so is a great fit for any beginner level learner.

Coming out on the other side of this course with a knowledge of Python, text processing, and general NLP usefulness and application, you would be well positioned to then take on more advanced NLP learning materials and state of the art approaches to applied NLP, numerous courses of which exist. I could recommend the recently-released Hugging Face course on this very subject.

Did I mention this is all freely-available? Thanks goes out to Dr. Tuomo Hiippala at the University of Helsinki for such great material.