Spelling fever is set to reach a wider audience this year. As part of the RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship (NSC), the public can pick up handy spelling tips through videos on RazorTV.
Also, primary and, now, secondary school students can learn spelling techniques and improve their vocabulary with special activities in The Straits Times' weekly school publications Little Red Dot and IN.
Spelling is "a core building block of good language" and "the most visible sign of literacy", said Straits Times deputy editor Zuraidah Ibrahim, at the launch of the NSC at Westgate Mall in Jurong East on Saturday. "Besides making you seem smart, it is also critical in conveying exactly what you mean."
Over the next three months, more than 1,000 pupils from primary schools islandwide are expected to compete for the title of Singapore's top speller, in the competition co-organised by RHB Banking Group and The Straits Times. The event, in partnership with the Ministry of Education (MOE), will see one pupil win $5,000 and a challenge trophy for their school.
The championship is also supported by ITE College Central, the National Library Board and tech company HP.
At the launch, pupils from Yangzheng Primary School and Yu Neng Primary School went head to head in a spelling stage game, where they scrambled to form words such as "forlorn" and "manipulate" with large letter cards.
This is the first time the launch of the championship is held in a mall.
Said Mr Kellee Kam, group managing director of RHB Banking Group: "We are committed to the holistic development of young minds, and we want to build generations that are confident and highly motivated so that they can ultimately lead successful lives."
Also, the competition is a good platform for pupils to display values like resilience and sportsmanship, said Mrs Ruth Tai, assistant director of the MOE's Gifted Education Branch 2, of its Curriculum Planning and Development Division.
Registration is now open for the pen-and-paper preliminary round on March 1, where competitors must spell 50 words that are read out to them. Top scorers will then proceed to the zonal rounds.
Schools can register up to 10 participants and two reserves each until Feb 24.
Ahead of the preliminary round, The Straits Times and MOE will conduct a free workshop on Tuesday for all teachers from MOE schools who have pupils taking part in the competition.
MOE master teacher Soo Kim Bee and The Straits Times' Schools correspondent Debra Ann Francisco will share tips and classroom activities in a hands-on workshop to help teachers give their pupils life-long spelling skills.
Theophane Chong, 11, a Primary 5 pupil from Yangzheng Primary School, was part of the team that won the second round of the spell-off at the launch.
He said: "I thought that the other team was stronger, and that we came only to lose. I am very happy that we won."
All teams received hampers filled with Little Red Dot collectibles, while the winners also received digital cameras.