Competition creates rising interest in linguistics

Susana Eisenchlas and Andrea Schalley
Dr Susana Eisenchlas and Dr Andrea Schalley assist with OzCLO's first round

More than 1500 high school students from across Australia competed in a national linguistics competition jointly hosted by Griffith University earlier this month, with an additional 16 teams from Sweden also joining the competition for the first time.

The Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiad (OzCLO) has been growing steadily since its Australian launch seven years ago.

Senior Languages and Linguistics Lecturer Dr Andrea Schalley is chair of the OzCLO Queensland organising committee.

She says the competition is growing quite dramatically with close to 100 additional teams competing online this year.

“Each year more and more students compete, and each year high school language teachers further embrace the competition,” Dr Schalley said.

The competition attracts students with an interest in languages, mathematics or computing and involves problem-solving and discovering how a language works.

Students compete in teams, and increasingly high school language teachers are training their students for the competition, Dr Schalley said.

“For the first time this year, three of the four winning teams in the Queensland regional round were from the same high school, Brisbane State High, which has never happened before,” Dr Schalley said.

“Usually winners are evenly spread across different schools.”

The team which took out second place was from All Saints Anglican College.

Dr Schalley said the 16 teams that competed from Sweden also performed well.

“We expect their skill level to develop over the next few years as their high school teachers embrace the competition like those in Australia,” she said.

“The growing level of engagement from the Schools is amazing. A few years ago linguistics was not a well understood discipline by high school students, however interest is growing fast.”

Winners of the state rounds will now compete in the 2014 national finals later this month, and national winners will have the opportunity to compete internationally in China in July.

OzCLO in Queensland is jointly hosted by Griffith University and the University of Queensland.