9-29 ноября 2009 г.
Шестая Всероссийская дистанционная студенческая олимпиада
The Voyage to Terra Australis



The VI National Distance Olympiad for Students "Just Train Your Brain – The Voyage to Terra Australis" commenced on November 9, 2009.

It attracted students of many different majors – future interpreters, area studies specialists, doctors, engineers, teachers, diplomats, lawyers, economists and agriculturalists, from all corners of The Russian Federation. There were participants from Arkhangelsk to Rostov-on-Don and from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok.

During the first round (9 – 13 November), Olympiad participants were requested to answer 50 difficult and creative questions on history, culture, literature, traditions, famous people and nature of Australia. The 50 students who submitted the most complete and correct answers, proceeded to the next round.

Participants of the second round (16 – 20 November) were tasked with the search for an answer to the question, “What is the role of Australia in the modern world?” They reviewed 6 video clips, in which 6 Australians (a dean of the Faculty of Arts, History and Political Science students, a dentist, a lecturer in Australian indigenous literature, and a playwright) speculated on the issue. Each contestant then had to choose a point of view that was the most appealing to them and complete a 300-word essay supporting the speaker’s opinion. The Jury received many submissions that were interesting and original in terms of both content and layout, including a poem and an imaginary speech of a politician attending a summit meeting. From the total, the 19 students with the most convincing essays were selected as finalists. So, how do they see the role of Australia in the modern world?

In my opinion, Australia has all the necessary inherent features to make the world a far better place to live in.
(Ksenia Barabanova, Ekaterinburg)

“In the future, I believe, Australia will be “down under” only geographically and “on top” in every other sphere”
(Mikhail Rybkov, Krasnoyarsk)

“This wonder-country has a lot to say, and I’m looking forward to hearing that!”
(Darya Maltseva, St.Petersburg)

The best essays submitted in the second round http://www.aus.lingvograd.ru/samples.html

Since the beginning of the Olympiad, contestants have been corresponding with the organizing committee with emotional letters sharing their impressions of this faraway and unusual country and their eagerness to explore it beyond the frameworks of the Olympiad.

In the third round of the Olympiad (23 – 27 November), students were suggested to answer the question, “Russia and Australia seem to be so different… Do they have anything in common?” Contestants had to present their responses as video essays. It was a genuine pleasure for the Olympiad Jury to watch the 18 videos submitted by the finalists. The pieces were presented as a museum excursion, a press-conference, a research report, etc.

All video essays http://aus.lingvograd.ru/final.html

It was difficult to rate the works, since many of them deserved to be evaluated as the best. However, the choice has been made, and prizes have been awarded. Here are the final results:

Grand Prix – Kate Belaya, Magadan
I place – Yana Reutova, Moscow
II place –Mikhail Rybkov, Krasnoyarsk; Ksenya Barabanova, Ekaterinburg; Igor Litvinenko, St. Petersburg
III place – Olga Lyakhova, Chelyabinsk; Vasily Ovechko, Moscow
Special prizes – Olga Lyakhova, Kate Alferova, Chelyabinsk; Darya Demidova, Veronika Zhirnova, Anna Stupenkova, Moscow; Yulia Loukina, Arkhangelsk; Darya Maltseva, St. Petersburg

The Hall of Fame (in Russian) http://www.aus.lingvograd.ru/award


This is the 6th contest in the series of "Just Train Your Brain" Olympiads for university students learning English. The project was initiated in 2004 by the staff of Department of Linguistics and Information Technologies, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Area Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University. University lecturers from Belgorod, Novosibirsk, Perm and other cities as well as native speakers of English - Prof. Keith Rawson-Jones (MSU, Moscow), Anthony Johns (London), Francis Pilcher (Coventry) - helped to implement the project. In 2008, a courseware developing company "REPETITOR Multimedia" also became a partner of the Olympiad.

The Olympiad makes use of interactive multimedia tools as well as distance learning technologies. The tasks encourage participants to work with both audio and video tools.

The contest attracts students of  the1st  to the  5th year of study from different cities of Russia -Novosibirsk, Ulyanovsk, Rostov-on-Don, Krasnoyarsk, Saratov, Nizhnekamsk, Moscow, Perm, Kazan, Chelyabinsk, etc. Each Olympiad generates a large amount  of creative, original and thoughtful works. Contest participants demonstrate high proficiency in English and the ability to effectively present the results of their efforts - even a video essay if necessary!

Within every Olympiad, the Jury awards the Grand Prix, several 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes, and special prizes in different nominations. Awards include e-courses, multimedia learning materials, dictionaries, books, CD-ROMs and other intellectual prizes.

Materials from previous Olympiads can be found here: http://www.just-english.ru/0r.htm


Eligibility Criteria: students in their 1st-5th year of study; any age, citizenship, and place of permanent residence; English proficiency level B1+.

Registration: online registration until 6 November, 2009.

Start: the Olympiad commences on 9 November, 2009, at 16:00.

First round: participants complete an interactive crossword. The crossword is visible to all visitors of the Olympiad website but can only be attempted by registered participants.

Second round: students watch 5 video interviews containing different answers to the same question and submit a small essay to support one of the viewpoints presented in the task. The essay evaluation criteria include good command of the English language, knowledge of Australian culture and lifestyle, originality of ideas, good choice of arguments, as well as brevity, preciseness, and persuasiveness of speech.

Third (final) round: a video essay competition. Participants make a video recording of their speech (90-150 seconds). The Jury evaluates knowledge of the English language and Australian culture, speech content and structure, persuasiveness and contact with the virtual audience as well as aesthetical and technical aspects of videos. The theme for the essay will be announced later.

Awards: the names and photographs of Olympiad winners will be published on the project website. All participants of the final round will receive small prizes and certificates signed by representatives of MSU and the Australian Embassy in Moscow. The Grand Prix and several 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes will be awarded to the best contestants. The authors of the first 5 answers submitted in each round will be rewarded as well.

Tips: to prepare for the Olympiad, please examine our list of useful links, tips for great speeches, works of MSU students, and materials from previous Olympiads .



Julia L. Gumanova
Julia L. Gumanova
Ph.D. in Sociology, Associate Professor, Faculty  of Foreign Languages and Area Studies, MSU, the author of the project "Just Train Your Brain"
Alla L. Nazarenko
Alla L. Nazarenko
Ph.D. in Philology, Professor, Head of Department of Linguistics and Information Technologies, Faculty  of Foreign Languages and Area Studies, MSU
Olga O. Kirillova
Olga O. Kirillova
Ph.D. in Cultural Studies, Associate Professor, Faculty  of Foreign Languages and Area Studies, MSU, specializes in Australian culture
Prudence Ahrens
Prudence Ahrens
PhD in Art History,
Lecturer, School of English,
Media Studies and Art History,
The University of Queensland,
David Carter
David Carter
Professor of Australian Literature and Cultural History,
School of English , Media Studies and Art History,
The University of Queensland,

Project Team

Natalya A. Kocheturova
Natalya A. Kocheturova
Lecturer of Institute for Distance Learning, editor of Information Department, Novosibirsk State Technical University
Olga A. Shaurova
Olga Chaourova
International Development
Manager, Faculty of Arts,
The University of Queensland   
Anthony Johns
Anthony Johns
Ford Financial Analyst,
Great Britain

Contact us: lingvit@ffl.msu.ru


Contest Task. Round 1 (Guest entrance)

Contest Task. Round 2 (Guest entrance)

Contest Task. Final Round (Guest entrance)


“Thank you very much for such an exciting trip to the “Terra Australis Incognita” – Australia!
To be honest, this is the first time I have participated in such a project and I am impatiently waiting for the next one. I enjoyed looking for the answers to the questions, especially those with video and audio hints. While searching for information, I got so interested in Australian culture that I continue to read about it and I dream of visiting this wonderful country in the future! In the second round, I was delighted by the idea of finding out what Australians with different backgrounds think of their country and giving my own opinion on this. This essay was like an invisible thread that tied Australia and Russia together.”
Anna Stupenkova, Moscow

“Everything was outstanding as usual, with intriguing crosswords, questions, and interesting and timely tasks. In particular the second and the final round required a huge amount of analytical brain activity. I’d like to thank the project author Julia Gumanova, our international Jury and the Organising Committee for their professional work! Special thanks to the technical support group – the Olympiad web site is amazing! Thanks to all the finalists for the entertaining videos!”
Mikhail Rybkov, Krasnoyarsk

“I’d like to thank all the contestants for the rivalry, the Jury for the appreciation of my work and the Organising Committee for the Olympiad. I would also like to thank all those who assisted me for their support and my great result
Igor Litvinenko, St. Petersburg

“Thank you so much for the three marvelous weeks of the Olympiad. Thanks to Julia Gumanova and the Organising Committee for very good Olympiad logistics. Also, Thanks for the fascinating tasks, which helped us to discover the wonderful world of Australia!”
Veronika Zhirnova, Moscow

“I am sure that for me and many other participants this Olympiad has served as one more example of how immense our world is and how many interesting, unusual and unknown things it still has in store for us! It was a great pleasure to read the essays and watch the finalists’ videos! It is so pleasant to know that in Russia there are so many interesting, smart and talented young people! The very project “Just Train Your Brain" is a magnificent idea! I wish this project and its authors a great success!”

Автор проекта Ю.Л.Гуманова (МГУ им. М.В. Ломоносова), редактор проекта Н.А.Кочетурова (НГТУ, Новосибирск)

© Кафедра лингвистики и информационных технологий факультета иностранных языков и регионоведения МГУ им. М.В.Ломоносова, 2009

Контакты: e-mail: lingvit@ffl.msu.ru