What are linguistics competitions?
Held annually since 2003, the International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL) is one of 13 international science Olympiads worldwide. With over 40 participating countries, the IOL is a widely recognized international event, where students from around the world gather and test their minds against the world’s toughest puzzles in language and linguistics. Each participating country sends 1-2 teams of four contestants each. The methods of choosing these contestants and composing the teams differ from country to country; in most cases a country’s contestants are chosen from the winners of their national Linguistics Olympiad. The North American Computational Linguistics Open Competition (NACOL) is the qualifying competition for the IOL in the North American region.
When we think of the IOL, we may initially picture an international scientific competition that assesses students' linguistic knowledge. However, the IOL is a test of abilities, evaluating students' logical thinking, divergent thinking, and analytical problem-solving skills. The competition challenges students to solve problems and arrive at answers through reasoning, while promoting teamwork and collaboration.
Why should you participate?
There are several reasons why participating in the IOL is beneficial. First, the competition is not restricted to students with humanities or science backgrounds. The questions are cleverly designed to incorporate concepts from linguistics and computer science in the form of logic problems, challenging students to think deeply and research unique aspects of each problem. This approach fosters skills in problem-solving, logical reasoning, and teamwork, making the competition interesting and exciting.
From a college admissions perspective, achieving excellent results in the IOL can greatly benefit students. Admission officers at prestigious universities favor applicants who have excelled in this competition. Preparing for and participating in the IOL can help students develop knowledge and skills in various academic fields, regardless of their future academic pursuits.
The IOL is also an excellent opportunity to apply linguistic knowledge and skills to various emerging fields. Psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, and computational linguistics are all hot areas for future linguistic applications. The linguistics major plays an increasingly important role in artificial intelligence and machine learning fields. Participating in the IOL can provide students with valuable experience and networking opportunities for pursuing careers in these areas.
Who can participate?
In the North American region, NACLO is targeted at high school students, but many younger students enjoy participating. Any 7th to 12th graders who are interested in enhancing their logical thinking, comprehension, creativity, and problem-solving abilities should participate. Prior knowledge of linguistics, computer science, programming, or foreign languages is not required. Participants need not memorize numerous linguistic theories and terms.
How will Peninsula Academy help you?
We are pleased to offer a weekly Linguistics Competitions prep class. Coach Luke studied English at both Harvard College and Stanford University, and has over 15 years of experience teaching a wide range of subjects and coaching for the IOL. In this course, students will build a strong foundation of knowledge and develop three core skills in associative thinking, scientific thinking, and algorithmic thinking. They will learn to apply their knowledge and logical structures creatively to unlock patterns and secrets behind puzzles. The course will also focus on analyzing past competition problems, and students will practice in teams and participate in mock competitions to prepare them for the real event. Our class typically begins in April in order to prepare for the January competition.
Questions?! We're happy to help:
For English, Doreen 310-408-4188
For English and Korean, Kay 310-989-7557
For Chinese, Annie 424-394-6362
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