Singapore, 11 March, 2017 - "Bamboozle", "espadrilles" and "iconoclast" - these were some of the words that some 1000 upper primary pupils from 99 registered schools had to spell today to qualify for the next round in the RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship 2017, better known as The Big Spell. Among participating schools were 12 new participating schools compared to last year's crop.
The rules of Singapore's largest spelling competition, which is back for its sixth edition, have been tightened this year, in order to raise the overall quality of the event. More help will also be given to participants to improve their spelling skills.
For the first time, the competition content committee - comprising journalists from The Straits Times Schools department and officers from the Ministry of Education - will analyse and release a report on how the participants fared at the preliminary round. Participating schools can use this to glean insights into the most common errors made by pupils and the reasons for the errors.
The number of contestants each school could send for the preliminary round was also halved, to 10 pupils each from 20 pupils previously, to make the selection process more stringent. The intermediate round, which will be held on April 1, has been reduced to two semi-finals instead of four zonal rounds previously, intensifying the level of competition.
The pupils who took part in the preliminary round of the spelling competition at ITE College Central this morning had to spell 50 words. Though registration started from 8am, pupils started streaming in from 7am. Among early birds were schoolmates Leandra Amadia Rasjid and Ira Kyreen Medina, both aged 11 and in Primary 5 at MacPherson Primary School. Both had taken part in last year's Big Spell as well.Said Leandra: "I hope I do better than last year."The best performers of each zone from this written round will qualify for the semi-final round. From there, the top-ranked spellers nationally will compete for the title of Singapore’s champion speller in a thrilling final on April 22.
These two rounds are conducted orally, which means pupils stand on stage to spell their given words. One slip of the tongue, and they will be out.
The champion speller will take home $5,000 in cash, as well as the Challenge Trophy for his or her school. The first- and second runners-up will win $3,000 and $1,000 in cash respectively.The annual competition is co-organised by RHB Banking Group and The Straits Times, in partnership with the Ministry of Education (MOE). It is supported by the National Library Board, and ITE College Central is the technology partner. Mr Mike Chan, Chief Executive Officer and Country Head of RHB Singapore, said that The Big Spell has become a reputable name amongst schools, which look forward to the event every year, since it first started in 2012.He added: “The RHB Banking Group sees the importance of empowering our future generation with the knowledge for further enrichment beyond the classroom.” Ms Fiona Chan, Managing Editor of The Straits Times and Head of ST Schools, said that The Straits Times took great pride in hosting the event, as it encouraged young people to take good English seriously. “In an age of spell-checking and auto-complete software, it is all the more essential that children learn good spelling from young, as a crucial foundation for building mastery of the English language," she said. "The Straits Times has always been a fundamental pillar of Singapore's support system in boosting English-language skills." Slight changes were made to the gameplay this year, with the aim of raising the overall quality of the competition. Ms Serene Luo, Editor of ST Schools, which is behind the award-winning Little Red Dot for primary school pupils, among other publications, added that as the competition entered its sixth year, the focus was sharpened to bring the event to the next level. She said: “We want to keep The Big Spell as the gold standard in mind sports and spelling competitions. And with the changes this year, schools have been more stringent in selecting their best spellers. The competition this year will be fierce.”
The Big Spell aims to develop a greater appreciation of the importance of spelling in literacy development among primary school pupils, as well as to continuously elevate the standards of English amongst schoolchildren in Singapore. Issued by Singapore Press Holdings Ltd
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