Congratulations to Upper Sixth Former, Alfie Willcocks, who scooped a bronze award in this year’s UK Linguistics Olympiad (UKLO).

The UKLO is a national competition for school-aged children from across the world and involves solving linguistic data problems. It is renowned for the difficulty of its questions and its stringent grade boundaries.

This year, candidates were required to solve five sets of problems, each of which entailed decoding an obscure language using a brief set of clues. Once broken down, they had to manipulate the language and answer a series of questions to gain marks. During the Olympiad, competitors responded to questions not only on English but a range of languages—many of which they would never had heard.

Alfie told us, “Once I got over the shock of seeing a language that is only spoken in rural Tibet by five people, I then applied myself to the question. The challenge became more enjoyable as I started to crack the code and develop my technique.”

Mr Michael Dawson, Teacher of German, who organises the UKLO at Bedford School, commented, “This year’s UK Linguistics Olympiad was the first of its kind. The boys coped extremely well to work with such a challenging format and answered some of the most abstract questions I have ever seen. The UKLO is difficult at the best of times, but this year’s problems were extremely demanding. Alfie has done extremely well to be awarded a Bronze medal, and this speaks volumes of his talents as a linguist.”

Bedford School has a strong track record of producing capable linguists. Extra-Curricular clubs such as Italian Club and Spanish Club help boys to improve their linguistics, while Latin offers the development of many transferable linguistic skills, which help boys to go on to do well in competitions such as the UKLO.

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