For Teachers

NACLO challenges students to develop their own strategies for solving problems in fascinating real languages and formal symbolic systems. No previous knowledge of linguistics, languages, or computing is needed–all of the problems can be solved with reasoning skills alone. There are some examples of computational linguistics here.

What fields are relevant to computational linguistics?

Computational linguistics (CL) applies computational methods to understanding language. Many disciplines are needed to solve this problem, such as:

Language/Linguistics contributes information about the patterns and rules that govern language
Computer Science has techniques for designing algorithms to process and understand language
Math can explain and model properties of language using statistics and mathematical functions
Psychology/Cognitive Science give insight into how the human brain understands language

Why is CL important to students?

CL is a rapidly growing field in computer science and it contributes research that will help define many advancements in the 21st century. Speech recognition and machine translation are very visible in daily life but still do not perform nearly as well as humans do on the same tasks. CL is also used for other language processing tasks, such as finding relevant documents in large collections of text (like search engines) or extracting information from text or speech to answer questions. Anytime you use the internet or voice commands on your cell phone, you are using CL!

Why is NACLO important?

NACLO helps students learn about this exciting field and provides a valuable experience to prepare them for college. Students who do well in the first round of NACLO will be invited to participate in the second round to form a team that will represent the United States in the International Linguistics Olympiad.

Who are we?

We are a group of PhD students and a faculty member at JHU’s Center for Language and Speech Processing (CLSP), which is a multidisciplinary group that studies computational linguistics and language processing. Researchers at CLSP come from diverse backgrounds such as computer science, electrical engineering, applied math, cognitive science, and linguistics.

For more information

Please email us at if you’d like more information about NACLO or CL in general.

We host a practice and information session for interested students before the first round of NACLO in January, where grad students from JHU talk to students about this exciting area of research and collaboratively practice NACLO problem solving techniques.

If you think you have several students who may be interested in NACLO or the field of CL more generally, please also contact us to arrange a potential visit to your classroom by CLSP students.

Informative links

Download an informational flyer
Sample problems from past NACLOs
@ Johns Hopkins University