The Lockdown 2021 Challenge

Lockdown is here again, and this time we are issuing a challenge to students in year 7, 8 or 9 at UK state schools. On Friday every week we will put up a new lockdown challenge, relating to a subject that you can study at university, and a question about studying at university. You will have until the following Friday to submit your answers to us. You can submit your answers using this online form. Please send any questions to us at

Lockdown Challenge Week 1: Linguistics 

Linguistics is the study of languages and how they work. Students who study linguistics have to pay close attention to how words change, and to the patterns that create meaning. Try the challenge below and see whether you might enjoy studying Linguistics.

The following list of words is from the Agta language of the Central Cagayan Valley in the Northern island of Luzon, in the Philippines. There are now only about 600 speakers of this variety of Agta, although there are perhaps 10,000 people in the Philippines who speak other varieties also known as Agta. The Agta people now speak an Austronesian language similar to other languages spoken in the Philippines. However, they are descended from the Melanesian people who were present in the Philippines before the Austronesian peoples arrived. The Agta language is now seriously endangered.

1. wer = 'creek'

2. balabahuy = 'little pig'

3. talobag = 'beetle'

4. bakbakat = 'granny'

5. palapirak = 'little money'

6. bahuy = 'pig'

7. bag = 'loincloth'

8. walawer = 'little creek'

9. balabag = 'little loincloth'

10. takki = 'leg'

11. labang = 'patch'

Now you have enough information to translate the following words into Central Cagayan Agta:

a. little leg

b. money

c.  little beetle (this is the word for ladybird!)

d. little patch

e. little granny

This puzzle (copyright © 2005, Linguistics Society of America) was designed by the Lingusitics Society of America. If you enjoyed this puzzle and would like to do more similar puzzles, you can find more examples on this website


Thinking about university...

About half of all young people in the UK go to university after they have finished their studies at school and college. University students come from all backgrounds, and study a huge variety of different subjects. Can you think of 5 reasons why someone might choose to go to university (over other options, like taking a job or starting an apprenticeship)? You could ask members of your household what they think, or do some research online.