All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO)

Do you have a knack for logic, lateral thinking and languages? Could you decipher an ancient script, or decode the logical patterns of Swahili?

The All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) is the problem solvers’ challenge. The contest sees secondary school students from the island of Ireland develop their own strategies for solving complex problems in unfamiliar languages, and aims to crown Ireland’s top young problem solvers.

AILO introduces students to the application of logic and linguistics (i.e. the study of human language) to problems of language understanding and translation. 

No prior knowledge of linguistics or foreign languages is required. Even the hardest problems require only logical ability, persistence and a willingness to think around corners. 

The goal is to develop students’ problem-solving skills, and to inspire them to consider the fascinating range of careers at the intersection of computing, language and linguistics. 

AILO is Ireland’s largest Science Olympiad, attracting 3,500-4,000 participants annually. 

The top performers in the Irish final go on to represent Ireland at the International Linguistics Olympiad. 

AILO won a European Language Label Award in 2020. It links closely with the learning outcomes of many subjects across the Irish school curriculum.

The AILO season runs from September to March. Early registration by teachers is encouraged in order to receive monthly training materials.

For more information, and to register your school, visit the AILO website.

“Being involved with AILO helped teach me some of the necessary problem-solving skills used in software programming. Some of the AILO questions were even used by my lecturers [at DCU] to demonstrate how to approach problems you have never seen before.”
– Robert Devereux, Amazon Web Services

“It [AILO] encourages students to analyse data, reflect on their native language and compare with other languages. These skills are invaluable for lifelong successful language learning. Beyond the language classroom, it equips students with transferable skills that are highly sought after by employers: data analysis, pattern recognition and problem solving.”
– Dr Bettina Knipschild, Modern Foreign Language Teacher, Tallaght Community School

“I find more and more pupils asking “when can we start AILO?” at the start of each school year. The older pupils encourage the younger ones and a lot of teamwork goes on for the sample puzzles. It’s open to all and I think it’s a unique competition.”

– Breda Disney, Maths Teacher,  Patrician Secondary School, Newbridge

“As the Senior Careers Tutor with responsibility for the Key Stage 3 Careers Programme (ie pupils choosing their GCSE subjects), materials provided have been incorporated into our Schemes of Work and allowed us, at this important stage of the career planning process, to run workshops in school and highlight the importance of problem-solving skills in the workplace.”
– Olivia Moore, Head of German and Careers Methodist College Belfast

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