Schools gear up for first round of RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship

Casuarina Primary pupils who will be taking part in the preliminary round of the National Spelling Championship on Mar 7. (From left) They are Aisyah Shaik Ahmed Ally, Poh Zhi Nan, Soh Jue Ning, Charmaine Lee, Tan Qian Xun, Muhammad Daanish Zuklife a
Casuarina Primary pupils who will be taking part in the preliminary round of the National Spelling Championship on Mar 7. (From left) They are Aisyah Shaik Ahmed Ally, Poh Zhi Nan, Soh Jue Ning, Charmaine Lee, Tan Qian Xun, Muhammad Daanish Zuklife and Charlene Tan. -- ST PHOTO: NUR SYAHIIDAH ZAINAL

Twelve avid readers from Casuarina Primary want to make their school proud.

Armed with storybooks, word lists and dictionaries, they are gearing up for the preliminary round of the fourth RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship - also known as The Big Spell - which takes place next Saturday.

These pupils, who were selected based on the consistent good work shown in their weekly spelling tests, will join some 1,400 participants vying for the title of Singapore's top pupil speller.

The champion speller will win $5,000 in cash and the challenge trophy for his school. The second-placed speller will win $3,000 and the third-placed speller will win $1,000 in cash.

Registration for the competition closes on March 2.

Despite a packed week of revision for upcoming tests, the group has been putting in extra hours of practice, searching for difficult words online and reading more books.

Primary Six pupils Poh Zhi Nan, 12, and Muhammad Daanish Zuklife, 11, have turned to the Internet to research words that are tricky and unfamiliar.

Zhi Nan said: "I will look for difficult words, memorise them and also look for their meanings."

"Sometimes my mother will help to test me," Daanish added.

Madam Zuliana Zaid, the school's head of department for English language, said she saw much value in The Big Spell.

"It allows the children to have a greater precision of the English language and it emphasises the importance of spelling in literacy development.

"That is very much in line with our school's focus on (developing) engaged learners and effective communicators."

In the March 7 round, pupils will write out 50 words that are read out to them. The top pupils in each zone will then go on to the next round, which is an oral one.

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

It is supported by the Institute of Technical Education College Central and the National Library Board, with Sports Hub Library and Suntec Singapore as venue partners.

Registration details have been sent to schools. E-mail enquiries to bigspell2015@punch.com.sg

Follow the action at www.straitstimes.com/bigspell