Latest News

A selection of language-related news. Does not claim to be comprehensive or represent the views of SCILT.


The UK Linguistics Olympiad (UKLO)

21 September 2021 (UKLO)

UKLO is a competition, like the Mathematical Olympiad or the National Cipher Challenge, for students who are still at school (or equivalent college) – any age, any ability level; but unlike other competitions, our competitors have to solve linguistic data problems. Thanks to our generous academic supporters, it’s completely free to both competitors and schools.

The first round of the competition will take place during February 2022.

Visit the UKLO website to find out more and to register your school.


The Guardian University Guide 2022: Modern Languages & Linguistics

11 September 2021 (The Guardian)

Find a course at one of the top universities in the country. The Guardian's league tables rank them all subject-by-subject, as well as by student satisfaction, staff numbers, spending and career prospects. Select Modern Languages & Linguistics from the subject dropdown box for current rankings.


UK Linguistics Olympiad (UKLO) 2021

19 January 2021 (UKLO)

UKLO is a competition for students who are still at school (or equivalent college) – any age, any ability level, where competitors have to solve linguistic data problems. Teachers should submit competitor information by 25 January 2021 with the first round of the competition scheduled to take place during week 1-5 February.

This year's competition has adopted special arrangements to cope with the pandemic and the fact that UK schools will certainly be closed for Round 1, and probably for Round 2 too.

Visit the UKLO website for further information.


UK Linguistics Olympiad (UKLO)

7 January 2020 (UKLO)

UKLO is a competition for students who are still at school (or equivalent college) – any age, any ability level, where competitors have to solve linguistic data problems. It’s free to enter and offers participants the chance to be the team selected for entry in the International Linguistics Olympiad. In recent years the UK teams in the international competition have been very successful.  

Round 1 of the competition takes place 3-7 February 2020.

To find out more and to register to take part, visit the UKLO website.


‘Teaching linguistics improves language skills’

19 October 2018 (TES)

How much do your students know about linguistics? Probably not much, because linguistics (the scientific study of language) is conspicuously absent from the modern foreign language syllabus in schools. This is a shame, because linguistics has much to offer students.

(Note - registration required to read full article).


UK Linguistics Olympiad (UKLO) 2019

13 September 2018 (UKLO)

UKLO is a competition for students who are still at school (or equivalent college) – any age, any ability level – in which they have to solve linguistic data problems. It’s completely free to both competitors and schools.

Teachers can now register their school for the United Kingdom Linguistics Olympiad (UKLO) 2019. Round 1 will take place from 4-8 February.

Visit the UKLO website for more information about the competition and registration.


New student profile on SCILT's website

24 February 2017 (SCILT)

We have a range of Job Profiles on our website designed for teachers to use in the classroom to enhance learning about the world of work and how language skills can play a part.

Our latest addition comes from Emma Therer, a student of German and Linguistics, whose aim is to become a translator and interpreter. She believes languages are key in getting to know people and to learn about other cultures.

Read her profile and others on our website now.


It’s all in the wording: ‘Arrival’ raises profile of linguists, making them almost cool

11 November 2016 (Washington Post)

The extraterrestrial “heptapods” at the center of the new sci-fi thriller “Arrival” aren’t the only strange, poorly understood creatures in the film. The other aliens, it turns out, are linguists, represented by Amy Adams’s Dr. Louise Banks, an academic field researcher who is recruited by U.S. military intelligence to help communicate with a race of seven-legged E.T.s that have descended on Earth, with intentions unclear, from another world.

“A lot of people don’t know what linguists do, or even that we exist, apart from some idea that we just translate lots of languages,” says Jessica Coon, an associate professor of linguistics who consulted on the film and provided a loose model for Louise. Coon unsuccessfully lobbied the filmmakers to change a line describing Louise, arguing that it misrepresents what linguists do: “You’re at the top of everyone’s list,” Forest Whitaker’s Army colonel says to Louise, “when it comes to translations.”


£3.9 million modern languages research project launched in Manchester

11 October 2016 (University of Manchester)

A consortium led by The University of Manchester has launched a four-year language research project which aims to demonstrate the UK’s critical need for modern languages research and teaching. The project will collaborate with schools and universities to develop curriculum innovations, and strengthen university commitments to local community heritage.

The launch of ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community’, which is funded by an AHRC Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) grant, took place at The University of Manchester. They are leading a consortium which includes 11 other universities, city councils, the Royal Opera House, Tyneside Cinema, political think tank Chatham House, and a sixth-form college known for its strengths in modern languages.


Evidence Rebuts Chomsky's Theory of Language Learning

7 September 2016 (Scientific American)

The idea that we have brains hardwired with a mental template for learning grammar—famously espoused by Noam Chomsky of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—has dominated linguistics for almost half a century. Recently, though, cognitive scientists and linguists have abandoned Chomsky’s “universal grammar” theory in droves because of new research examining many different languages—and the way young children learn to understand and speak the tongues of their communities. That work fails to support Chomsky’s assertions.

The research suggests a radically different view, in which learning of a child’s first language does not rely on an innate grammar module. Instead the new research shows that young children use various types of thinking that may not be specific to language at all—such as the ability to classify the world into categories (people or objects, for instance) and to understand the relations among things. These capabilities, coupled with a unique hu­­­man ability to grasp what others intend to communicate, allow language to happen. The new findings indicate that if researchers truly want to understand how children, and others, learn languages, they need to look outside of Chomsky’s theory for guidance.


University guide 2017: league table for modern languages & linguistics

23 May 2016 (The Guardian)

Use the Guardian's 2017 league table of modern languages and linguistics taught at UK universities to help with course choices.

A link to the guide can also be found on the Beyond School area of the SCILT website under the Language courses, UK universities section.


How has Greek influenced the English language?

18 May 2015 (British Council Voices)

How many words derived from Greek have you used today? British Council teachers in Greece, Martha Peraki and Catherine Vougiouklaki, explain why English owes so much to the Greek language.


QS world university rankings 2015: modern languages

29 April 2015 (The Guardian)

The top 100 universities in the world for modern languages, as ranked by higher education data specialists QS. Oxford and Cambridge top the rankings, with the University of Edinburgh reaching 26th in the listing.

The University of Edinburgh also came 3rd in the listing for linguistics.


Related Links

QS world university rankings 2015: Linguistics (The Guardian, 29 April 2015)

Miracles of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics

26 February 2015 (Coursera)

This free online course gives an introduction into the study of languages, the field of linguistics. With the support of the basic linguistic terminology that is offered in the course, you will soon be able to comment both on variety between languages, as well as on a single language’s internal structure. The course will run for 5 weeks from 30 March to 11 May 2015.

Visit the website for more information and to register.


The Linguist Online

1 October 2013 (Chartered Institute of Linguistics)

The latest news from the languages world.


UK Linguistics Olympiad 2013

22 January 2013 (UKLO)

Want to develop critical thinking skills? Want to show that languages are fun? Why not consider entering your school in the UK Linguistics Olympiad. It's a competition for secondary students, aged 11-18, in which they have to solve linguistic data problems. It doesn't rely on knowledge of a language but on trying to find patterns in the data.

There are 2 rounds of competition and then a team is selected to represent the UK at the International competition. Round 1 is taken in schools any time week commencing 4th Feb 2013 and students can be entered at either foundation, intermediate or advanced level. Round 2 will be held at St Mary’s College, Twickenham in late March. If you want to find out more, enter your school or just register an interest, please visit the UK Linguistics Olympiad website.


The Cognitive Benefits of Being Bilingual

31 October 2012 (The Dana Foundation)

Today, more of the world’s population is bilingual or multilingual than monolingual. In addition to facilitating cross-cultural communication, this trend also positively affects cognitive abilities. Researchers have shown that the bilingual brain can have better attention and task-switching capacities than the monolingual brain, thanks to its developed ability to inhibit one language while using another.


University of Strathclyde Education Scotland British Council Scotland The Scottish Government
SCILT - Scotlands National centre for Languages