A spelling bee with a difference

Winners of the spelling bee contest: (from left) Bindu Shree (3rd place), Sandhya (2nd place), Archana N.S. (1st place), Syed Arbaz (4th place), and Vishwanath R. (5th place).   | Photo Credit: Handout E Mail


The air is thick with tension as students from 23 schools across the city struggle to get their words right.

“How do you spell Gemini?” a judge asks Preethy of Madivala Government High School. She hesitates and asks for a Kannada translation, then proceeds to answer correctly, amid loud claps and cheers.

It was the sixth year that Sahasra Deepika International for Education (SDIE) was holding a spelling bee competition for Class 9 students of Kannada-medium government high schools across the city.

It is unique in many ways: the students do not come from top private schools and many cannot speak English beyond constructing basic sentences. As many as 92 students were drawn from 23 schools as part of a programme to impart English grammar and vocabulary skills among Kannada-medium students. They performed admirably, tackling words from ‘celebration’ and ‘vague’ to ‘heliocentric’ and ‘echinodermata’. The winning word was ‘chorus’.

“We want to give these children an opportunity to be on stage, and to gain confidence through such competitions,” says Vijayalakshmi Ramakrishnan, founder and treasurer of the SDIE. “Some of these kids have never celebrated a birthday. Some do not get English textbooks until the end of the school year.”

The goal is to try to ensure that these children do not feel left out, she says, pointing out that without a working knowledge of English, the children have little chance of getting jobs in the future.

The winners of the event are: Archana, Krishna Iyer School; Sandhya, Honnagonahatti Government High School; Bindu Shree, Honnagonahatti High School; Syed Arbaz, Fort High School, and Vishwanath Doddagolarahatti Government High School.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2017 6:19:58 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/a-spelling-bee-with-a-difference/article6843016.ece