The Big Spell 2015: Teachers learn ABCs of making spelling fun

SAYING a word properly will help pupils spell better, more than 120 teachers learnt yesterday.

Using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), they practised saying words such as "chic" (not pronounced "chick") and "apparatus", and were challenged to pronounce the word "dachshund" accurately.

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Attended by educators from more than 80 primary schools islandwide, the special workshop was part of the fourth edition of the RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship.

During the workshop, Dr Ang-Tay May Yin, from the English Language Institute of Singapore of the Ministry of Education, reminded teachers that spelling was linked to all areas of language learning.

Said the principal master teacher and programme director of pedagogy: "Proficient spellers are those who use a wide range of vocabulary and are far less repetitive; they are confident in not just their writing, but also in their speech."

Straits Times Schools correspondent Debra Ann Francisco shared creative ways to make spelling more enjoyable.

For instance, teachers could use crossword puzzles to help pupils learn both the spelling and the meaning of a word. She also suggested using newspaper articles as spelling assignments.

Ms Grace Goh, a teacher from Da Qiao Primary, especially enjoyed the IPA session.

She said of Dr Ang-Tay: "I thought she was really good in the way she described how certain words are mispronounced, to create awareness among teachers."

The annual nationwide spelling competition is co-organised by RHB Banking Group and The Straits Times, in partnership with the education ministry.

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.

Over the next three months, some 1,400 pupils islandwide are expected to vie for the title of Singapore's top speller.

The champion wins $5,000 and the challenge trophy for his school.

Schools have until March 2 to register up to 12 participants and two reserves each to take part in the first written preliminary round on March 7.

From now till May, Little Red Dot, The Straits Times' publication for primary schools, will run a series featuring the stories behind words and their spelling.

nszainal@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Ang Yiying

For more information about the competition, visit www.thestraitstimes/bigspell

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