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  Volume 6 | Issue 26 | July 01, 2012 |


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Beating the Spelling Blues!

Rakibul Hasan
Photos: Champs21.com

Remember those tensed moments when you suddenly had to stop writing during the last minutes of an examination because you couldn't remember the right spelling of a certain word? Spellings of complicated words like 'loquacious' or 'perspicacious' have always been a source of difficulty for most students. Moreover, since arrays of spellcheckers have become so available on computers, mobile phones and on a number of other electronic gadgets, anecdotal evidence suggest that these auto-correct options are making people's spelling skills worse. Thankfully, there are still students who are diligent enough to know the spellings of even the most difficult words found only in dictionaries. With a mission of eliminating fear of spellings amongst the students, Champs21.com, the country's first E-learning service, organised the Daily Star Spelling Bee contest for the very first time. The Daily Star was the title sponsor of the competition, while Horlicks was the power sponsor and British Council was involved with the competition as a knowledge partner.

The battle for spelling supremacy got intense during the television round of The Daily Star Spelling Bee competition.

Though introduced for the first time in Bangladesh, the participation of the students in different levels of the Daily Star Spelling Bee competition was remarkable. The process for taking part in the competition was simple. Any student of Bangladeshi origin, studying in class 6 to 10 was eligible to participate in the competition regardless of their medium of education.

The Daily Star Spelling Bee, the first ever and one of a kind spelling competition in Bangladesh began on February 1, 2012. The whole competition was divided into three phases namely the online round, divisional round and television round. To play in the online round, spellers from across Bangladesh registered on the home page of champs21.com, where they were given an ID and a password to play 'Spell Bangladesh' -- an online vocabulary game where spellers had to spell words after listening to an audio. Spellers could attempt as many times as they wanted to and the highest score of an individual speller was recorded against his or her online ID. Apart from the online registrations, to sensitise the students about the Spelling Bee competition from both urban and rural areas, the Champs21.com team visited hundreds of school across Bangladesh to run activation programmes where students could register to participate in the contest and could also qualify for the divisional round after appearing in an offline spelling contest.

The participation of the students was remarkable throughout the different levels of the contest.

A total of 1400 young spellers from the online round succeeded to make their way to the divisional round, which took place in the divisional cities of Dhaka, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Khulna and Chittagong. Only 72 spellers survived the gruelling divisional round where they had to spell words like 'Poinsettia' and 'Grandiloquence' and were given a golden ticket to participate in the quarter finals. All the episodes of the competition from divisional rounds and onwards were aired on Channel i. The television episodes of the contest were emceed by Romana Malik Munmun and Imtiaz Nawsher. For many participants it was their first appearance on television and young spellers could not but feel excited about going on air for the first time. “Initially during the television round I was camera-shy. I used to get very concerned about my facial expressions whenever I was asked a question! However eventually I got over my unease and started feeling confident in-front of the camera,” says Adeeb ul Haque, a student of Cantonment English School and College, Chittagong and the champion of The Daily Star Spelling Bee competition 2012.

Students had to face an array of tough words to qualify for the advanced rounds of the competition.

Indeed the television round of the competition was a great success in terms of viewership from both Bangladesh and abroad. According to Imtiaz Nawsher, one of the hosts and also the official pronouncer of the Daily Star Spelling Bee contest, the main aim of the contest might be to develop students' vocabulary skills, but it also aspired to grow leadership qualities which include beating the stage fight and being confident in front of a crowd. Unlike the format that we watch on ESPN, where spellers are given hints like word definitions and parts of speech before being asked to spell a word, the television round of the Daily Star spelling Bee included a number of innovative games like spell buzz, spell hive, spell rings and so on.

Adeeb ul Haque, the champion of the Daily Star Spelling Bee competition was awarded with an education policy worth Tk 5, 00,000.

Md Mehedi Hasan, a student from Dhaka Residential Model College and a speller bee from the contest says, “Though I only made it through to the divisional round, I liked the quarter final phase of the contest on television most because of the innovative games they included in the programme. My favourite spelling game from the contest was spell buzz where one had to think very fast to sort out a word from jumbled up letters.”

After a tough battle of brain and minds for about five months, the grand finale of the competition took place on June 21, 2012 between the six finalists who were selected from the semi-final round namely Sohaima Jabeen of Class 10 from SFX Greenherald International School, Dhaka; Fahmeed Khan Sheehan of Class 10 from Scholastica School, Adeeb ul Haque and Ehsan Rezwan, of class 10 from the Cantonment English School and College in Chittagong, Tansiha Tahreen of Class 9 from The Millennium Stars School and College in Rangpur and Namira Shameem a Class 7 student from Sunbeams School, Dhaka who also happened to be the youngest competitor amongst the top 6 finalists.

Students made the best use of their spelling prowess during the Daily Star Spelling Bee competition.

After making the best of his spelling prowess in the rigorous grand-finale, Adeeb ul Haque, a student of class 10 from Cantonment English School and College, Chittagong outsmarted all his fellow competitors and emerged as the first ever champion of The Daily Star Spelling Bee, winning a Tk 5,00,000 worth of education policy, courtesy of MetlifeAlico and also an all expense paid trip to Washington DC, the capital city of the USA and also the first city to organise a spelling bee competition ever. Tanisha Tahreen Tanisha from the Millennium Stars School and College, Rangpur and Fahmeed Khan Sheehan from Scholastica School, Dhaka stood out as 1st and 2nd runners up respectively. The 1st runner-up in the competition was awarded an education policy worth Tk 3, 00,000 while the 2nd runner-up got an education policy worth Tk 2, 00,000. All the six finalists were awarded The Daily Star Spelling Bee Trophies for their outstanding effort and making this far in the contest.

Russell T Ahmed, CEO, Champs21.com

For Russell T Ahmed, CEO, Champs 21, the success of The Daily Star Spelling Bee contest was a dream come true. “When we at Champs21.com first thought of starting a spelling bee competition in Bangladesh, initially some people doubted the success of such an unprecedented idea in Bangladesh. But as the competition finally began to get momentum we were impressed by the outstanding quality of our students. I myself had the opportunity to visit many schools across Bangladesh with the Champs21.com activation team and after seeing the performance of the students from both urban and rural areas during the primary and later on more advanced level of the competition; I couldn't but feel confident about the spelling abilities of our students. They only need the right exposure to outsmart the students from any developed countries of the world,” opines Ahmed. Commenting on the future plans' regarding the Spelling bee competition, Russell T Ahmed says, “We are planning to go big with the Daily Star Spelling Bee contest since we will be running activation programme in all the 64 districts of Bangladesh next year. We are also planning a grooming session especially for the Bengali medium students so they can master the art of English spelling.”

According to champion Adeeb ul Haque, students do not need to memorise thousands of words from the dictionary to learn the correct spellings of difficult words. Rather, one should develop a habit of reading. If one comes by a new word, one must try to understand its meaning and the pattern of spelling; doing this much can make one master the art of spelling difficult words. So if you want to be a spelling celebrity, start working on your spelling skills today and buzz the world with your spelling success.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2012