Otago Girls pupils turn words into medals

The 2008 Olympics may be over, but Otago Girls High School pupils have brought home more medals after finishing second overall in the New Zealand ALT Vocabulary Olympics.

More than 8000 pupils nationwide took part in the three-week online competition, which was divided into French, German, Spanish and Japanese.

Pupils were given words in their chosen language to translate.

The software for the online competition was created by University of Otago student and event organiser Craig Smith and enabled pupils to learn vocabulary at home while teachers monitored progress.

The process saved time in class which could be spent focusing on contextual learning, he said.

Over three weeks, the Language Perfect program recorded the number of words correctly translated by pupils at 160 schools across the country.

Nelson College for Girls was first, Otago Girls second and Gore High School third.

Otago Girls head of languages Chris Durrant said the pupils were delighted with the result.

"It's a fantastic competition. The girls have really enjoyed it. They were going online and competing at night at home and at school. It's the most interested I've seen them in vocab lists."

Gore High School language teacher Chris Cheyne said she did not get a lunch break for two weeks as her pupils demanded she let them into the computer lab to learn vocabulary.

The level of energy and enthusiasm to learn vocabulary was unprecedented, and the power of technology in education was highlighted in this event, she said.


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