International Linguistics Olympiad

Honorable mention for the German team at the International Linguistics Olympiad!

The German national team brings home an honorable mention from Yongin, South Korea, where the 17th International Linguistics Olympiad took place. Congratulations and praise to Maja Sellmer from Berlin!

In view of the particularly high level this year and the renewed participation of Germany after a long break, this is already a success. This year there were 55 teams from 37 countries - the biggest Linguistic Olympiad ever! The overall results can be found here.

The pupils gave their best and had a lot of fun solving the tasks and other activities that were offered around the Olympics - a new and very interesting experience for everyone!

Next year, the Olympics will take place from 20 to 24 July in Ventspils, Latvia. We are already very excited to particpate again!

Team Germany 2019 is set and prepares for the International Linguistics Olympiad!


    Jacqueline Guitu, College St. Blasien, Baden-Wuerttemberg
    Maja Sellmer, Lessing Grammar School, Berlin
    Michał Boroń, Heinrich-Hertz-Gymnasium, Berlin
    Santina Kemper, Alexander S. Puschkin Grammar School Hennigsdorf, Brandenburg  

The pupils are accompanied by André Meinunger and Nathalie Topaj (members of the IOL leadership team at ZAS).

Our sponsors
The implementation of the selection procedure and the trip to South Korea were financially supported by the Leibniz Association (Strategy Fund). We would also like to thank our external sponsor Gesellschaft für Sprachtechnologie & Computerlinguistik for an additional donation.  


The selection procedure for the International Linguistics Olympiad
We at the Leibniz Centre for General Linguistics organise the German participation in the International Linguistics Olympiad (

The International Linguistic Olympiad is one of the more recent competitions within other better known championships such as the Mathematics or Chemistry Olympiad.

The Linguistics Olympiad tests language feeling, cultural imagination and logical-analytical thinking, with the result that the best results are achieved not only by linguistically gifted students, but also by those with general and multiple talents.

The Olympic competitions, which last less than a week, take place annually in another country. They consist of individual competitions (the day after arrival) in which five tasks have to be solved within six hours. On the following day you will get to know the country and the people of the host country as well as the opposing teams. On the fourth day, the team task is scheduled, where four students* from one country (= one team) work together on a problem for four hours. The tasks usually consist of finding out structures (grammar) or the meaning of words/word groups from unknown languages. Sometimes the solution process is comparable to deciphering the hieroglyphs. On the last day the award ceremony takes place and there is a party.

Germany participated from 2008-2011 and then again 2018.

* The upcoming IOL will take place from 29 July to 2 August 2019 in Yongin (Korea) (

All pupils from schools in Germany who have not yet enrolled for studies and are at least 14 years old can take part.

* The tasks do not require any prior technical knowledge. It is advantageous to enjoy recognizing patterns, non-decimal number systems and foreign languages.

* The German team will be selected in three rounds:
1) The first round is an online test (start to end of February);
2) The best candidates in the online test receive examination material, which they take at home and send to us by email (March).
3) The winners of the second round will be invited to Berlin. From 24-25 May 2019 there will be a joint training and the final selection round.

* The four most successful participants travel to Korea together with a companion from our team.

* This page will be updated soon. Thus, concrete data for the selection procedure will be made public in the near future. It is therefore advisable to call up this page again.