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Isle of Man students seek support to attend Linguistic Olympiad in Beijing

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Four students from the Isle of Man hope to travel to Beijing in July to compete at the International Linguistics Olympiad.

Daniel Quayle, Keira Gawne, Clare Pickering and Annie Lennon qualified for the 12
International Linguistics Olympiad by scoring the highest points in a local challenge.

The event will take place in Beijing, China, from 21 to 25July and will see teams of young people from around the world gather to test their minds against the world's toughest puzzles in language and linguistics. 

However, in order to compete, the Isle of Man team needs to secure sponsorship, either from one generous supporter or various smaller donors.

Bob Teare, Manx Language Officer with the Department of Education and Children, who organises local students’ participation in the Olympiad, said the trip would
cost upwards of £7,000.

“A four-strong team from the Island took part in the International Linguistics Olympiad last year, for the first time. Although up against teams from huge nations, they performed well and gained a lot from their participation. That event was held in Manchester and we received generous support from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company to attend. However, this year’s event is obviously a lot harder for us to get to.

“This is a wonderful chance for four talented young linguists from the Island to
represent the Island on the world stage and we hope to secure support to do so.”

The Island team was selected from 15 secondary students who competed in the Isle of Man Linguistics Olympiad, a two and a half hour test paper written by an
international committee of linguists.

After marking the competition papers, Max Wheeler, retired Professor of Linguistics who lives in the Island, said:

“The scores achieved by the students were exceptionally high and we should be extremely proud of the education system in
the Isle of Man that produces such a varied range of analytical skills in students at a relatively young age. The results are comparable to the top scores achieved by the UK in their annual Linguistic Olympiad. I look forward to following the team’s achievements.”

Bob said:

“The aim of the competition is to inspire young linguists and language
students to develop their analytical thinking and problem-solving as well as their language and communication skills. These skills are becoming ever more vital in the global market, particularly the digital content sector. The Isle of Man first entered this event last year and participation has inspired students to apply to study linguistics and computing at top universities.”

He added:

“The linguistic challenges that the team would encounter in Beijing could
be based on anything from an ancient language written in runes to the syntax of
genetic code. They would have to think critically, analytically and laterally because
cracking these problems is as much a science as an art.” 

All four students hoping to travel to Beijing are working hard towards AS levels
and, between them, they speak a total of 11 languages. Team member Daniel, who
is bilingual in English and Manx, said:

“Being bilingual gives you an insight into the grammatical structure of other languages and enables you to think around each task. We are all looking forward to the challenge of competing in Beijing.”

Please contact Bob via or via +44 7624 225326 to discuss offering support to enable the team to compete in Beijing and visit for more information about the event.

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