NATIONAL SPELL-IT-RIGHT CHALLENGE: Words, words and more words
DUAL ROLE: Words are innocuous on any normal day. But during the RHB New Straits Times National Spell-It-Right Challenge, they can be either a student‘s best friend or his worst enemy
CLOSE to 400 primary and secondary hopefuls took part in the RHB New Straits Times National Spell-It-Right (SIR) Challenge state rounds in Sarawak and Malacca last weekend.
And for many of them, the dictionary or a personally compiled word list was an essential tool for the spelling bee.
Sarawak state primary champion Amanda Ngu Teng Teng constantly referred to her Oxford Mini English Dictionary in the two weeks leading up to the competition.
“I paid special attention to words that have silent letters,” said the SK St. Teresa pupil on her strategy.
Shane Jonathan, a primary six pupil of SJK Chung Hwa Batu 7, Sarawak and a first-time contestant relied on a 600-word list that his teacher gave him.
Nur Nabilah Noorzali of SK Rancangan Perumahan Rakyat, Sarawak used the Kamus Dwibahasa (English-Malay Dictionary) to complement her word list.
“I find that I remember the words better when I understand what they mean,” said the primary six pupil.
Francis Senen Alau of SK Jalan Ong Tian Seu, Sarawak made full use of a Webster‘s Dictionary & Thesaurus his parents bought him last year.
“He needs it for studies so he carries it to school every day. He really doesn‘t mind the size since he loves reading and refers to it constantly,” said his mother Dwina Jingga.
Last year‘s Sarawak state primary winner Dayangku Auni Awangku Royhatas Kaloski returned this year as a first-former.
Although she made a first round exit after she wrongly spelled “theorem”, Dayangku Auni vowed to improve and come back next year.
To prepare for her next outing, she stayed till the end of the contest to note down the words given.
“There are definitely a lot of unusual and difficult words this year. My father helps me look for tricky terms from dictionaries,” said the SM Sains Kuching student.
Last year‘s finalist Siti Aliana Mohamad Azmi from SMK Batu Lintang, Sarawak, raised eyebrows when, upon being given the word “spinney” to spell, asked presenter Wan Zaleha Radzi for the origin.
It wasn‘t the first time the third-former asked for the etymology of words — she did the same when she entered last year.
“I place importance (on etymology) because it‘s easier to spell words once their origins are known. Besides, it‘s the international standard. I want to take part in next year‘s challenge and I hope etymologies are provided,” said Siti Aliana.