Rush to enter Young ICT duo's Olympics contest

Software for learning foreign languages free to schools during Olympics

Youthful entrepreneur Craig Smith, who won the Young ICT Talent category of the recent Computerworld Excellence Awards with his brother Shane, has had another bright idea.

And it is an idea that has boosted the number of schools using the pair’s Language Perfect online environment for learning foreign languages and revising vocabulary from 20 to 140.

Not long after the awards night, and a week before the Olympic Games started, Smith came up with the idea of organising a competition for students, challenging them to sign up on the Language Perfect website and get as many vocabulary questions as possible right between the 8th and 31st of August.

Through a partnership with the New Zealand Association of Language Teachers (NZALT), all schools and universities in New Zealand are being offered free access to the software during the Olympics, says Smith.

The software, which is designed specifically for the New Zealand NCEA curriculum, is available for students of French, German, Spanish and Japanese, for levels one to three.

So far, student response has been overwhelming, he says. Over 6,000 students had signed up when Smith talked to Computerworld — just three days after launching the competition. Last Monday alone, 135,000 questions were answered, says Smith.

The score-board leaders already have over 4,000 points, says Smith. To get one point you have to get a question right three times, which means the top contenders would have answered over 12,000 questions.

Participants stand to win a Toshiba laptop and a 32GB iPod Touch, says Smith. The software can be used by any school in the world, as it can be customised to specific curricula, he says.

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