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The All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) is a contest in which secondary school students develop their own strategies for solving problems in fascinating languages from around the globe.

Students must use their ingenuity to solve Puzzles such as deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics, decoding numerical spy codes, and interpreting ancient Mayan poetry.

No prior knowledge of linguistics or a second language is required, as even the hardest problems require only logical ability, patient work, and a willingness to think around corners.

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

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The History

Since the mid-1960s, problem-solving competitions in linguistics for secondary school students have been taking place, mainly in Russia, Bulgaria and other eastern European countries. In more recent years the idea of linguistics Olympiads has spread to Western Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. Winners of these competitions qualify for the International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL), which has taken place annually since 2003.

The All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad was established in 2009 and Ireland has competed in the International Linguistics Olympiad since then. AILO’s appeal to both students and teachers means that it has grown quickly and drawn more than 22,500 registrants to date.

AILO is run by the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology, a major academia-industry research centre funded by Science Foundation Ireland and based at Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, University College Dublin and Dublin Institute of Technology. ADAPT partners with some of the world’s leading companies to deliver advanced content processing technologies to adapt and personalise digital content and services to meet the evolving needs of individuals across global markets.

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