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Spelling Bee: Australia’s best young spellers revealed

Kamahl Cogdon, June 7, 2021 5:00AM Kids News

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Theekshitha Karthik, 11, is the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee national champion in the orange level for Year 5-6 students. Picture: Jason Edwards media_cameraTheekshitha Karthik, 11, is the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee national champion in the orange level for Year 5-6 students. Picture: Jason Edwards

spelling bee

Reading level: green

Meet the best young spellers in Australia.

Victorians Theekshitha Karthik and Arielle Wong, and Evan Luc-Tran from NSW have been crowned the inaugural* champs of the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee.

Arielle, 10, took the title in the Year 3-4 category, with 27/30 in a speedy 1 minute 21.5 seconds, while Theekshitha, 11, scored a quickfire 29/30 in 1 minute 12.7 seconds in the Year 5-6 group and Evan, 12, notched up 27/30 in 3 minutes 6.2 seconds in the Year 7-8 category.

Theekshitha, who is in Year 6 at Haileybury College’s Berwick campus, said she was so thrilled with her win “if I had a rocket I would definitely have blasted over the moon”.

She said speed and accuracy were her game plan, topped off by lots of practise.

“I was thinking it was a really good achievement to have come so far but I was thinking ‘what do I have to do to win?’,” she said.

“So I was trying my best and practising … because spelling is my passion.”

Spelling Bee national champ Theekshitha Karthik media_cameraTheekshitha loves spelling and spent a lot of time practising before the national final. Picture: Jason Edwards

Despite her nerves, Theekshitha powered through her 30 words, only tripping up on “pariah*”, a word she’d never heard before.

Keen reader and speller Arielle, who is in Year 4 at Donvale Christian College, said she was very surprised with her victory but loved competing in the Spelling Bee.

“I liked that you got feedback on the words that you got right and wrong so that I can learn for next time,” she said.

Spelling Bee national champ Arielle Wong media_cameraArielle Wong, 10, said her love of reading helped propel her to the top of the green level for Year 3-4 students. Picture: Wayne Taylor

Evan said he found the national final “reasonably hard” but was confident in the preparation he did with his mum, Grace.

“There are so many good spellers around Australia so I was a bit surprised that I won, but I’m very proud of myself,” said the Year 8 student from western Sydney performing arts school The McDonald College.

“I did encounter a few tricky words. One of them was ‘burramys’. I had never heard of that before.”

For those not in the know, a burramys is a very rare mountain pigmy possum, found mainly on Mt Hotham in Victoria.

National Spelling Bee Winner media_cameraEvan Luc-Tran is congratulated by his classmates at The McDonald College after winning the national final in the red level for students in Year 7-8. Picture: Toby Zerna

The three national champs are off to Canberra to meet Prime Minister Scott Morrison as part of their prize, which also includes iPads, books and $1000 vouchers for their schools.

“Well done to all the students across the country who took up the challenge, and congratulations to all the winners,” Mr Morrison said.

“As some students learned, proper spelling is a skill that makes you a q-u-i-n-t-e-s-s-e-n-t-i-a-l* winner of spelling competitions, but also helps set you up for life.

“Whether you’re a Prime Minister or a plumber, a teacher or a doctor, a fighter pilot or a scientist, spelling and reading are foundation* skills you’re always going to need.”

The national champs were among almost 21,000 students from 490 schools around Australia who signed up for the Spelling Bee, which is run by Kids News and News Corp Australia.

News Corp’s community ambassador* Penny Fowler said the event was a great way for children to improve their spelling while having fun.

“Fostering a love of learning in children is so important and this is at the heart of the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee,” she said.

NATIONAL FINAL TOP 10

GLOSSARY

  • inaugural: happening for the first time
  • pariah: an outcast, someone who is not accepted by others
  • quintessential: representing the most perfect or typical example of something
  • foundation: the base on which something is built
  • ambassador: person who speaks on behalf of an organisation, community or country

EXTRA READING

National Final here we come, say top scorers

Warners are good sports with spelling

Fears for spelling in the digital age

Millions of $50 notes have spelling mistake

QUICK QUIZ

  1. Which states are the national winners from?
  2. What word did Theekshitha get wrong?
  3. How fast did Theekshitha complete the national final?
  4. What did Arielle like about competing in the Spelling Bee?
  5. Who will the three national winners meet in Canberra?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Word recognition
Work with a partner for this activity.

Swap reading books so that you each have the novel the other is currently reading. From your partner’s novel, write down 10 words that you think are challenging to spell.

Then, for each of the words you selected, write the word three times on a sheet of paper – once with the correct spelling and the other two times with an incorrect spelling that you have made up. (For example, if the word is “psychological” you might write: sychological, psycologicil, psychological.) Don’t show your partner the list with the correct spellings.

Give your partner the sheet of paper where you have given them three different spelling options for the words from their novel. They must try to recognise the correct spelling of the word and circle it.

Check each other’s answers. Write any words you got wrong five times.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

2. Extension
In this news story, News Corp’s community ambassador Penny Fowler is quoted as saying that, “Fostering a love of learning in children is so important and this is at the heart of the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee.”

What school subject or topic of interest do you most love learning about? What is it that you love about this? Why are you passionate about it? Write a paragraph to explain.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Personal and Social Capability

VCOP ACTIVITY
Proper Noun Police
A proper noun is a noun that names a particular person, place or thing. It always has a capital letter.

How many proper nouns can you find within this article? Find them all and sort them into the category of name, place, time (date/month).

Can you find any proper nouns included in your writing?

What are they? Can you sort them into their categories?

Extra Reading in spelling bee