Ireland’s Top Young Problem-Solvers battle it out in National Final of the All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad

100 of Ireland’s top young problem-solvers, from 48 secondary schools all over the island, competed in the National Final of the All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad on Wednesday 10th March.

11 March 2021, Ireland: Talented problem-solvers from all over Ireland tackled the world’s toughest puzzles in logic, language and linguistics in the National Final of the 13th ADAPT All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) on Wednesday. The competition was held remotely from home, with Zoom invigilation, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Run by ADAPT, an SFI research centre, the contest challenges secondary school students to apply logic and reasoning skills to solve complex puzzles in unfamiliar languages.

The national finalists qualified after coming through the Online Preliminary Round of AILO at the end of January. Students from forty-eight schools from fifteen counties on the island of Ireland qualified for the National Final. Four winners of the national final will have the opportunity to represent Ireland at the International Linguistics Olympiad, from 19-23 July, which is likely to be held remotely in participating countries around the world.

The All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO) challenges students to use their lateral thinking skills to solve puzzles in languages from all over the globe. Students must analyse the data they are given to work out the ‘rules’ of this new language. These transferable skills are very important in other subjects such as Maths, Coding and learning new languages. 

In 2020, AILO was awarded the prestigious European Language Label (ELL) for the “very successful transition to online AILO”. The current 2020/1 AILO season has moved fully online to continue to engage with students at home with ADAPT tutors running 25 free online workshops and the preliminary round running fully online from home. AILO teacher, Olivia Moore of Methodist College Belfast, said of the preliminary round, “for our AILO candidates this year, for 2.5 hours on a Monday morning in January, the world seemed almost normal!”

The results of the National Final of the All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad will be released next week. Sample puzzles from the Olympiad can be downloaded at

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