Fighting their way to the Big Day

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ST 20140421 NSSPELL21LOGO 250615m

COMPETITORS will face their biggest audiences ever at the upcoming grand final of the RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship on Saturday.

For one thing, some 1,000 supporters are expected, as the event at ITE College Central is open to the public for the first time.

For another thing, scenes from the nail-biting event will be broadcast, for the first time, on the small screen too. It is slated to appear on StarHub's Channel 201 SuperSports Arena, a free television channel.

Said Ms Serene Goh, editor of IN and Little Red Dot, The Straits Times' publications for schools: "It's clear The Big Spell has a cult following, and everyone's getting in on the action: print media, radio, online, television. Every year it just gets more and more people fired up. We're thrilled."

After gruelling zonal rounds on April 5 where participants spelt words such as "ellipsis" and "adumbrate", the nation's best 25 spellers will meet at the ITE campus in Ang Mo Kio, to battle it out.

At stake is $5,000 for the champion of The Big Spell, as well as the challenge trophy for his school.

Pupils must spell their given words orally on stage. They may ask questions about the word's language of origin or definition - all within a 60-second time limit. Utter one wrong letter and they will be out.

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob will be the guest of honour at the event.

Rosyth School's Wong Yi Hao, 11, and Mok Zhe Ming, 12, already have a game plan for the final in mind, after placing first and second in the north zone respectively.

The Primary 6 pupils are testing each other and researching previous competitions.

Zhe Ming said: "I am sort of excited and a little bit nervous because everybody there will have a much higher standard."

The competition is co-organised by RHB Banking Group and The Straits Times, in partnership with the Ministry of Education.

The event is also supported by ITE College Central, the National Library Board and tech company HP.

Admission is by pre-registration only. Please e-mail

You can also follow the action at