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#374799 - 04/27/10 07:10 PM Spelling Bee
Peter Jones Offline
I just listened to the contest broadcast this afternoon, initially because our own Alyssa Arceo was competing. I found it interesting and I was surprised at the proficiency of many of the kids.

There were some aspects I found disappointing, pretty well all relating to the question-mistress, or "pronouncer" as she was called.

She often referred to the noun relating to the verb "pronounce", which most people know is spelt "pronunciation". Yet she constantly pronounced it as "pronounce" with "iation" added at the end. That isn't right, as there's no middle "o". In normal speech that may not matter (although it grates), but in a contest such as this I think that's very bad.

In the earlier rounds this afternoon she didn't give the meanings of words, only the sound of the word. But in some cases that sound applied to more than one word, with different spelling and completely different meaning. One such was the word that sounds like "liar". There is another word with the same sound but different meaning and spelling, "lyre" (a musical instrument), and that turned out to be the one she had in mind. But she didn't clarify this obvious ambiguity.

Some early words were I thought questionable, so I looked them up. Some were in Webster's American Dictionary, but not in the Oxford English Dictionary. I thought, though I may be wrong, that the norm for Belize is British spelling and words, with American spelling for those words being accepted in the competition. Surely a word that is ONLY found in American English doesn't qualify? I wish I could remember what these various words were, but I didn't make notes and have forgotten. For most of the contest I was in town listening on my headphones, and couldn't take notes.

There was tremendous range in the difficulty of different words. Some were words there was a good chance the candidate might have heard and perhaps used, others were so obscure that I had never even heard of them. Some words had predictable spelling, given correct pronunciation, others came from other languages and could not be guessed or worked out - you knew them or you didn't. So some candidates had an easy run through because that was how the numbers worked out, whereas others were presented with well-nigh impossible tasks. More work moderating the questions is needed.

I was listening through headphones and could hear very clearly, with no local extraneous noise. Nonetheless, I could not always comprehend the words being spoken. Perhaps microphone technique had a part in this and it was clearer in the hall itself - sometimes I only realised what the word was when the candidate started to spell. With some other words they were flagrantly mis-pronounced, and the unfortunate candidate then tried to spell what he/she had heard, getting it wrong. One word that comes to mind here is "degauss", which was in the final round when meanings were given (but only after the candidate had successfully repeated the sound of the word, parrot-fashion). It was repeatedly pronounced "digoss" and that is what the candidate repeated, mimicking the sound but obviously not having a clue what word had just been said. Needless to say the candidate didn't get the word right.

And lastly, although it wasn't a word candidates were asked to spell, one word that arose as part of the derivation of several words in the final round was "Afrikaans", except that it was consistently pronounced "africans". That was material, as had the word been pronounced correctly there is a good possibility the candidates might have guessed at the Dutch origins and hence the likely spelling. I think all candidates got questions including this word in the description wrong.

I am aware that I am not a native Belizean and sometimes struggle with the accent, but this was not the issue here. The areas where I didn't understand the words spoken were the ones the candidates didn't get right either.

#374805 - 04/27/10 09:11 PM Re: Spelling Bee [Re: Peter Jones]
Ernie B Offline
Gun Control is Hitting Your Target.

#374809 - 04/27/10 09:43 PM Re: Spelling Bee [Re: Ernie B]
Amanda Syme Offline
Ernie!!! If your kid was competing you would be the first one to promote this. I hope you are commenting on Peter Jones post and not the subject itself!

Alyssa worked so hard and this is the second year she has qualified up to this level. Of course, the 3rd time is a charm. We will be supporting her in her efforts next year to be champion.

Rosie, my eldest competed for 3 years, 3rd time she won the nationals. I say KUDOS to Coca Cola for sponsoring this fantastic competition that gets our young excited, enthusiastic, competitive and educated.

I love the spelling bee!

#374819 - 04/28/10 02:03 AM Re: Spelling Bee [Re: Amanda Syme]
Peter Jones Offline
You didn't spot what I've commented on, you disagree, or you think it doesn't matter? I think the kids worked hard and did well, but the adults could have served them a bit better in some details.

#374831 - 04/28/10 09:25 AM Re: Spelling Bee [Re: Peter Jones]
Barnacle Offline
my wife was in line at the bank when this was on and she noted one major difference from what we are used to. the kid was allowed to 'try again' as many times as he could until the buzzer went off?
whats up with that? i remember you spelled the word once and if it was wrong,, you're out. no guessing till the buzzer goes off.

#374848 - 04/28/10 11:19 AM Re: Spelling Bee [Re: Barnacle]
Peter Jones Offline
I think that's fine. Nerves can easily take over at times like that. If I were doing it I would appreciate being able to write it down, though I believe that's only permitted in the final round. When they were spelling, some kids were speaking so fast I couldn't take in what they were saying. Nerves again probably, but it made it vital for the judges to have the answer written down.

I'd never heard of this until I came to Belize, but it's a great idea and I'm in favour of it. Anything which introduces a bit of visible competition in "schoolwork" helps to encourage learning. I'd really like to hear the mathematics equivalent, which I believe is also run here, because I have no conception of how it runs. Maybe a general knowledge one would also be good, a bit like a "trivia" quiz but more focussed on material the kids have been exposed to.

Back on the spelling, how specifically were the kids prepared for the round before the final one? I believe these were words they had been told of beforehand, but I wonder just how that worked.

#374856 - 04/28/10 11:34 AM Re: Spelling Bee [Re: Peter Jones]
Amanda Syme Offline
The kids get to study all of the previous spelling bee lists - back when Rosie did this the list was about 1,000 words or so long. I don't know how many more have been added. But basically the words asked were not necessarily given to the participants beforehand.

The national spelling bee should be quite competitive.

#374859 - 04/28/10 11:47 AM Re: Spelling Bee [Re: Amanda Syme]
Peter Jones Offline
It's a pity that British and American spellings were merely referred to as "alternatives". Actual distinction between the two conventions would be more useful.

Which reminds me of another thing I noticed. The word "alternative" was used, not the American version "alternate". Yet the letter "z" was only ever pronounced the American way as "zee", not as the British "zed".

#374938 - 04/28/10 08:11 PM Re: Spelling Bee [Re: Peter Jones]
klcman Offline
there is no "d" in "z"........... wink
_ _ _ _ _ _ _________________ _ _ _ _ _ _
But then what do I know, I am but a mere caveman

#374948 - 04/28/10 09:15 PM Re: Spelling Bee [Re: klcman]
Ernie B Offline
What a moron
Gun Control is Hitting Your Target.

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