Gold Coast High School team wins national linguistics competition

A team of Gold Coast high school seniors from All Saints Anglican School have won a major national linguistics competition.

The team, Alastair Butcher, Matthew Jones, Nitin Niranjan and Amareesh Ravirajah, edged out teams from around the country in the finals of the Australian Linguistics Olympiad (OzCLO).

They will now go on to compete at the International Linguistics Olympiad (ILO) held in Bulgaria later this year.

The national and international competitions follow similar formats, where teams of high school students grapple with complex language problems within a time limit. These problems attempt to mirror the work professional linguists do.

Team member, Alastair Butcher, says the team is excited about competing overseas, and the opportunity to experience a different way of life.

“It will be an absolutely fantastic opportunity if we can fit it in with our studies,” he says.

“We’d like to see as much as possible while we are there and hopefully we get to wrestle with some really interesting problems!”

Alastair says OzCLO’s ability to draw on a number of scholarly fields – languages, mathematics and computing – is what motivates the team to be part of the competition.

“OzCLO is a surprisingly multi-disciplinary competition, it allows us to bring our different interests and strengths to the table. We get to think deeply about the problems before us and we all really enjoy solving puzzles,” he says.

All Saints Anglican School’s Head of Languages Mr Jerome Richalot says since the boys first entered OzCLO in 2013, the number of teams the school has entered has expanded to four and they’re looking to add more next year.

“The students relish the intellectual challenge. Gauging themselves against other schools and students is also part of the fun of the competition,” Mr Richalot says.

“Students aren’t just learning how to become better problem solvers through the competition, there are other benefits for their language studies as well.”

“Students realise there can be a systematic approach to languages, something that can be disregarded in a more romantic approach to languages, like in French, the language I teach,” he says.

For any students or teachers that are thinking of joining in OzCLO next year, Mr Richalot’s advice is to get involved and to take up the challenge.

“Go for it. It really benefits languages in your school and is tremendous fun!”

For more information on OzCLO including all of the results from the 2015 National round visit: www.ozclo.org.au

If you’d like to know more about Languages and Linguistics at Griffith click here.