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North American Computational Linguistics Open

Everything You Need to Know About the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO)

When it comes to finding a fantastic extracurricular activity for a high school student to get involved in, there are few that are most exciting than the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO).

If you are interested in learning about what it takes to compete in the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO), you have come to the right place. We at IvyCollegeAdmit are going to break down all of the questions you might have about the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO).

Why are extracurricular competitions so valuable for high school students?

When it comes to engaging in extracurricular activities and competitions such as NACLO, there are a lot of fantastic reasons why high school students should consider getting involved in extracurriculars like this one.

  • Improved academic performance: Studies have actually shown that students who take part in challenging extracurriculars, especially extracurriculars that are mentally stimulating, actually experience improved performance in their school classes.
  • Create a sense of community: One of the best reasons why high schoolers pursue extracurricular activities in the first place is either to spend time with their friends or make friends. Even though NACLO is based on individual scores, it is very common for groups of students who are interested in competing to form study groups and clubs so that they can help each other improve and expand their knowledge.
  • Offers productive breaks: Students of all ages need to learn how to both work hard in school and make their relaxation time productive. One of the best ways to do this is to find a fantastic extracurricular that is both fun and engaging and intellectually stimulating.
  • They look fantastic on college applications: One of the most important ways to stand out in a college application is to find an extracurricular that you enjoy and stick to it throughout the length of your high school career. This will show colleges that you are able to commit to things for a long period of time and are able to find things you are passionate about and stick to them. One of the best ways to make the most out of any extracurricular activity is to try to find a way to assume a leadership role at some point.
  • They help kids learn essential skills: Learning essential skills is an important part of adolescence and participating in a great extracurricular is a fantastic way to do that. Some of the skills that you can expect to learn through your high school extracurriculars include setting and meeting goals, working great with a team, figuring out how to manage time productively, learning how to prioritize goals, utilizing analytical thinking, being a leader, and excelling at public speaking.

High school students build friendships and connections in the North American Computational Linguistics Open.

About the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO)

Simply, North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO) is a contest in which high school-aged students solve complex linguistic puzzles. In solving these puzzles, students learn about the diversity and consistency of language by using logic skills.

While these words might be somewhat overwhelming, the truth is that no prior knowledge of linguistics or second languages is required to compete in and succeed at the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO).

In the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO), linguistic professionals, computational linguistics, and language technologies use many different languages to create engaging problems that represent cutting edge issues within their fields.

Through the years, the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO) has attracted the top students to study and work in those same fields. It is truly an opportunity for young people to experience an incredible taste of what it means to process natural languages in the modern world.

Frequently asked questions

Now that you get a basic idea of what the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO) is, you probably have quite a lot of questions when it comes to actually participate in the competition.

Luckily, we’ve got you covered. 

How does the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO) work?

The North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO) consists of two different rounds, called the Open Round and then the Invitational Round. The first round is open to everyone who is interested in competing. After that, the second round is only open to contestants that have advanced past the first round of the open. The winners of the second round will then move on to the International Linguistics Olympiad.

What ages can compete?

When it comes to those who can compete, even middle schoolers and younger students can compete in a separate competition. That means that everyone who wants can get the experience without having to worry about going against students who are simply much further along in the development.

Contestants of all age and locations compete in the Linguistics Olympiad.

How does one register for the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO)?

If you are looking to sign up for the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO) you can simply head over to the NACLO website and select one of the two following options.

  • Online/ high school: Participate in your high school under the guidance of a teacher at your school.
  • Live/university: Participate at a local site under the direction of a professor at that school.

If you have the option to attend a live event either in or near where you live, we at IvyCollegeAdmit highly advise that you do attend live. You will be able to find a list of the sites that you can attend at the NACLO site.

What are the registration fees for participating in the Open Round or Invitational Round of the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO)?

One of the best parts about participating in the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO) is that students can participate without having to pay any fees whatsoever. In this day and age, it can be very difficult for students to find fantastic extracurriculars that don’t cost quite a lot of money.

With that being said, if teachers organize a local competition site at their high school, rather than participating in an event that is being held at one of the university sites, those high schools will face expenses in order to print the question booklets and then either scanning the answers or mailing them to the conference organizers because the NACLO committee does not cover expenses for these types of local competitions.

How long do competitions last?

The open round of North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO) will last three hours long, but it is important to keep in mind that judges have the option to expand the time of the event if some unforeseen circumstances take place.

The start of the Open Round will depend on which time zone your competition is taking place.

  • PST: 9am to 12pm
  • MST: 10am to 1pm
  • CST: 9am to 12pm
  • EST: 10am to 1pm

It is highly important to remember that these times are when the actual competitions themselves begin. You will want to arrive before these times so that you can complete registration and take care of other administration activities. Typically, you should think about arriving about 30 to 45 minutes prior to the start of the actual competition.

What is the format of the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO)?

In fact, the format of NACLO is actually similar to a typical written test. During the competition, each and every contestant get handouts that come with competition problems and they will turn in their solutions to the questions in writing at the end of the competition.

A competitor in the competition is preparing for the Linguistics olympiad.

How many problems will each contestant be expected to answer at the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO)?

If you are competing at a NACLO event, you should expect to face somewhere between 3-5 problems during the Open Round of the competition. If you advance to the Invitational Round, you can face 5-7 problems that will be more difficult than the questions you face in the Open Round.

What knowledge will I be expected to use at the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO)?

When it comes to succeeding at NACLO, you will primarily be required to call upon your logical thinking skills as well as general knowledge such as arithmetic and language. Since the competition is based on subjects that are not typically taught in most schools, NACLO has specifically designed the competition for students that have no prior training in language, computer science, programming, or foreign languages.

What happens if a student does well at the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO)?

If a student ends up doing well and earning a high score at the Open Round of a NACLO tournament, they will then advance to the Invitational Round. If a student does well in the Invitational Round and ends up being one of the winners, they will get the chance to represent the United States and Canada at the International Linguistics.

What type of problems should I expect to face at the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO)?

There are numerous different types of questions that you can expect to face at the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO). Let’s break down the most common types of questions that you can expect to face. However, it is important to keep in mind that this list is not comprehensive and that it is possible that you will face questions that do not fall under any of the following examples.

  • Translation problems: This problem will include a set of sentences in a foreign language and their translations into English, which may either be in order or out of order. When you face this question, you will be tasked to learn as much as you possibly can from these translations and then translate other sentences that you are given either to or from English. It is important to keep in mind that some of the foreign languages you are tasked with solving may have difficult or unfamiliar structures or unfamiliar grammar. You will have to be prepared to solve these questions despite your familiarity with a given language.
  • Calendar systems: Your job with these questions is to figure out what calendar was used by a specific civilization based on sentences that refer to it.
  • Number problems: These problems will include foreign sentences that display an arithmetic fact, such as “four times four is sixteen” and your job will be to figure out who to translate different numbers and expressions. In order to answer these types of questions correctly, you will have to keep in mind that different languages represent numbers in different ways.
  • Writing systems: In these problems, you will be asked to figure out who a particular writing system actually works. You will then use it to write out a given text, such as some kind of ancient transcription. Keep in mind that you may face questions regarding languages that are written in formats that are very different from the English language.
  • Formal problems: When it comes to these questions, the term formal means that you will have to build a logical model of language. That means, that for example, you could be asked to carry out a problem that asks you to convert a passive voice sentence to an active voice sentence by using an appropriate form of the verb.
  • Phonological problems:  In these questions, your job is to figure out the relationship that exists between the sounds of a language and its writing system.
  • Computational problems: In these questions, your job will be to develop a procedure a specific linguistic task that could be carried out by a computer.

Students answer the questions that are given on the test.

Where can I find problems that could help me prepare for the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO)?

There are valuable reading materials that you can find on the NACLO’s website but remember that the readings you find are not a required aspect for participation. You can also find examples of NACLO practice problems as well as Linguistic challenge puzzles at the NACLO’s site. Good luck!

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