Spelling competitions to improve language, confidence amongst learners

One of the particpants spelling out a word,at Mt Kenya University, Kicukiro. Joan Mbabazi.

It was yet another moment of learning and competition on December 15, when learners from various schools in Kigali participated in the Family Holiday Spelling Bee that was organised by Brain Teasers at Mt Kenya University, Kicukiro.

Both primary and secondary school students registered for the competition and were asked to spell specific words, and whoever got them right qualified for the next round, provided rules and regulations were followed.

According to Richard Kaweesi, the chief executive of Brain Teasers Rwanda, the competition was not limited to specific schools, it was open to all students in Rwanda and its main purpose was to prepare students for national spelling competitions.

“This is the first time such competitions are taking place during the holidays, and we are looking forward to hosting them once every year to keep learners on track,” he explained.

There were 120 participants, 87 primary students and 33 secondary schools. To be part of the competition, you had to be aged between seven and fifteen, a student from any school in Rwanda, with registration fee of Rwf 15,000.

The spelling competition that had 11 rounds came to an end with two winners, one from each level. However, the best 15 winners were also awarded. The overall winners walked away with laptops.

Other winners got IPads, scrabble boards, bicycles, movie tickets, dictionaries, and bags. Whoever took part in the competition was awarded with a certificate and scholastic materials, t-Shirts, skin care products, among other prizes.

Innocent Kwizera Gasasira, one of the judges and a teacher at New Vision School, Huye, said that the competition was well organised and kids were able to manage time.

He added that spelling competitions help students improve their vocabulary and grammar, and also build personal confidence.

Marie Jeanne Uwera was the winner among seniors. The student of Rafiki International School, Bugesera said that teachers were so supportive in preparing them for the competitions. They were given a list of words to practice spelling and the right pronunciation.

 “However, since I am a very good book reader, anytime I come across new words, I note them down and consult the dictionary for their meaning in my free time, this has enabled me learn much,” she said.

Uwera added that if students take spelling competitions seriously and participate, the English language in Rwanda will significantly improve.

Ivan Mucyo, a primary five pupil of Rafiki International School Nyamata, emerged the winner among the juniors. He said that the competition was so stiff and all learners seemed bright, yet they were so many. But he was confident that he would win because he had three weeks to prepare.

He noted that his teachers and parents were supportive as they tested him with spelling exercises and he used Google for more words.