Spell it Out at the National Spelling Championship 2013!

If there is one thing that irritates me when marking students' essays, it will be the horrible spelling. And I am not talking about typo errors whereby I  know that the student is aware of the correct spelling but perhaps, in the haste, happened to write it down wrongly. 

One word that is most commonly misspelt, by both students and adults, is the word 'separate'. They always spell it as 'sepErate'. It irritates the hell out of me...haha...

Oh , there is another - when students cannot differentiate between "practice" and "practise".

This is why I thoroughly enjoyed the movie 'Akeelah and The Bee' many years back. It is about a little girl who handled all possible odds thrown at her to come up top in the National Spelling Bee Competition. So, when I received an email from omy.sg regarding something similar, I wasted no time in confirming my attendance.

The Launch of the 

This is a spelling competition targeted at primary school students all over the nation and it is mainly sponsored by RHB / The Straits Times, in partnership with our MINISTRY OF EDUCATION and supported by National Library Board and iQ Hub.

The objectives of this competition are

1) to enhance the English Language proficiency among the primary school students through spelling and
2) to make learning English more enjoyable.

I brought my cousin, Ainul, along and this was our first event with omy.sg . While waiting for the event to start, we saw the mascots for the day! So  cute!

Our passes to the event

Pink Inner: Angsana Mall @ JB
Sky Blue top: Cotton On
Striped shawl: Gift from student
Jeans: Levis
Shoes: RUBI platform wedges
watch: DKNY
Bag: Longchamps M Short Handle
Unseen bracelets: Cotton On

Students from primary schools soon started streaming in....


After a quick lunch snack, we were ushered into the theatre where the launch was going to be held. As much as I am quite used to noisy students, these primary school kids took it to the next level as they were in very high spirits and looked really excited, in anticipation of the launch.

Students with their clappers

Checking out our goodie bags...

Cute stationery!

We didn't have to wait long before the emcee for the day started the ball rolling by introducing the managing director of the RHB bank , Mr Johari Abdul, and informing the audience how the competition  works.

Basically , students in the preliminary round (with an expected number of at least 1000 participants) will go through a spelling competition in written format. After which, 80  of them will go on to the zonal round.  And finally, we will see an expected 20 participants to fight it all out in the final round.

Oooohhh.... I hope I will be able to witness the final round. The format of the final round is exactly like the scene in Akeelah and the Bee! The participants will be on stage and they will have to spell aloud words read to them by a Pronouncer. The words will obviously become increasingly difficult .

Here is the winner from the inaugural Spelling Competition held last year!

Jordan Foo from ACS Junior School

$ 5000 richer! :P Yes, that's the winning prize money for the spelling champion . A pretty cool sum, isn't it? The champion this year will also receive a challenge trophy, on top of the prize money, while the 1st and 2nd runner-up will bring home $3000 and $1000 respectively. Can I turn the clock back many many years so I can participate? :P

After the speeches made by the honorary guests, it was time for the launch of the National Spelling Championship 2013 ! The students were making a lot of noise with their cheers and clappers - it felt a little like at an election rally!

The Launch

The emcee sure knew how to excite the primary school kids. While waiting for a battle-off between two of the primary schools, he went around asking students to spell "eavesdrop" and "stationary" before awarding them prizes. That got them even more hyped up than before. Secondary school students are generally more subdued (observation made from my ten years of teaching) when it comes to such things so it was nice to see such excitement in the students.

Finally, it was time for the battle off. Teams from Yu Neng Primary School and Tampines North Primary School had to fight it out in a spelling battle to get the first prize. Interestingly, the spelling battle was done in a different format - they had to spell while kicking goals in a game application. How genius of the creator of the app! Ainul and I got caught up in the whole adrenaline rush as well....it was so exhilarating!

The winning team was from Yu Neng Primary School.They received a huge hamper and ... hear this.. a digital camera each! Super cool prizes as compared to when I was in primary school donkey years ago, when we always received stationery as prizes.

After that, it was a chillax session for all of us as we sat through a movie - The Lorax. I have never watched it before but I found it a rather interesting story with good moral values.  It was also the perfect time to munch on the popcorn :)

Do keep up with this spell-binding event by watching the preliminary, zonal and grand final online on RazorTv. You can find out more about the championship by tuning in to Hot FM91.3. The radio deejays will be visiting participating schools for Recess Express, where pupils can find out more about what it takes to be a radio deejay. 

I like how this competition diverges out in many ways to make learning more interesting and enjoyable. 

So, teachers out there, do nominate your upper primary school students and register them for the National Spelling Championship through MOE as only students who are nominated by their schools are allowed to participate. Search for your best spellers and allow them to experience this rare opportunity!

For more details, head over to   http://www.straitstimes.com/bigspell.

Meanwhile, this has given me an idea of what I can propose for EL Week in school this year. I am sure secondary school students will find it equally beneficial.