Teachers get spelling tips at briefing session organised as part of The Big Spell

SINGAPORE - Like when trying any new experience, learning a new word is less scary when they are integrated with familiar ones.

Some 120 teachers picked up this handy tip, among others, on the relationship between encountering new words and making them part of one's vocabulary yesterday.

The educators, from 104 primary schools islandwide, attended a special teachers' briefing as part of the fifth edition of the RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship, an annual nationwide spelling competition co-organised by RHB Banking Group and The Straits Times, in partnership with the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Ms Shakila Vasu, from the English Language Institute of Singapore (ELIS) under the MOE, gave ideas on how teachers can help their pupils build up the number of words they know.

Said the master teacher: "Many people have their own ways of learning spelling...You need to be able to get your students to think about how their mind works. It may be an innovative way that is particular to that child."

Ms Thiam-Fan Kwai Lin, 52, an English teacher from North Oaks Primary, enjoyed Ms Vasu's session. She said: "Normally, we don't teach spelling in such a sophisticated way, so at least we're now more aware there is actually a process."

Each attendee also received a set of digital worksheets as well as videos about the stories behind words in a flashdrive.

Describing the worksheets, Straits Times Schools correspondent Debra Francisco, who was previously a teacher for 14 years, showed how teachers could use the newspapers in guiding pupils to create their own word banks or lists in context.

Ms Gwendolene Phua, 28, an English and mathematics teacher from Fairfield Methodist School (Primary), said: "The flashdrive provided (during the briefing) is a compilation of different resources that are easy to print out and use in class."

In addition, ST's weekly school publication for primary school pupils, Little Red Dot, last week began a series of spelling games that teachers could use in the classroom to make the topic fun for their pupils.

The competition is supported by the Institute of Technical Education College Central and the National Library Board, with Suntec Singapore and the Singapore Zoo as venue partners.

Over the next three months, some 1,500 pupils islandwide are expected to vie for the title of Singapore's top speller. The top spellers from the written preliminary round on March 26 will enter the zonal rounds on April 16. The best performers will battle for the title at the final on April 30.

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

Registration for the championship is via schools only. They have until March 18 to register up to 20 participants and two reserves each.

• For more information about the competition, visit www.straitstimes.com/bigspell. Teachers with enquiries can write to info@bigspell2016.com

Schools interested in subscribing to Little Red Dot or its sister publication for secondary schools, IN, should contact amyleo@sph.com.sg

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