Singapore's search for the nation's best speller returns in 2015

Yishun Primary 5 students hold up cards with letters during a friendly spell-off against Singapore Chinese Girls' School at the launch of the fourth edition of the annual RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship held at Singapore Sports H
Yishun Primary 5 students hold up cards with letters during a friendly spell-off against Singapore Chinese Girls' School at the launch of the fourth edition of the annual RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship held at Singapore Sports Hub Library on Feb 6, 2015. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Singapore Chinese Girls' School Primary 6 students (right) with Primary 5 Yishun Primary School students (left) during a round of the fun spell-off  where they had to spell the word Temasek with The Straits Times managing editor Ignatius Low at
Singapore Chinese Girls' School Primary 6 students (right) with Primary 5 Yishun Primary School students (left) during a round of the fun spell-off  where they had to spell the word Temasek with The Straits Times managing editor Ignatius Low at the launch of the fourth edition of the annual RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship held at Singapore Sports Hub Library on Feb 6, 2015. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - The search for Singapore's next top speller kicked off on Friday with the word "soccer" at the Sports Hub Library with pupils from two schools in a spell-off.

The activity was part of the launch for the fourth edition of the annual RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship.

The pupils from Singapore Chinese Girls' School - including last year's winner Nicole Lim, 11, and her classmates from Primary 6 Courage - and from Yishun Primary's classes 5 Integrity and 5 Nation Loving formed words from letter cards distributed to them.

At times, they even invited representatives from the organisers, RHB and The Straits Times, who held some of the missing letters, to help spell the words for the challenge.

This year's edition of the event, held in partnership with the Ministry of Education (MOE), is expected to draw more than 1,400 pupils. It is supported by the Institute of Technical Education College Central and National Library Board, with venue partners Sports Hub Library and Suntec Singapore.

The Straits Times managing editor Ignatius Low noted that the event, also known as The Big Spell, had a knock-on effect even on non-competitors, from younger children picking up spelling techniques to older pupils building up their word banks.

He added: "The most enthusiastic schools have organised their own mini-spelling competitions too, so that the mind sport has an ongoing presence throughout the academic year."

Ms Norazzah Sulaiman, group chief governance officer of RHB Banking Group, said that the increasing participation numbers over the past three years were very encouraging and that the group hopes to see "many more new faces" in this year's competition.

She added: "To read and write well is a fundamental requirement for our children as they go through their school years. No less significant is speaking well. The championship is a platform that builds on these skills and hones confidence and self assurance."

For more information, go to www.straitstimes.com/bigspell 

Ministry of Education schools can register their Primary 4 to 6 pupils for the competition. Registration enquiries can be sent to bigspell2015@punch.com.sg

ayiying@sph.com.sg