Spelling Bee Success

The first National Spelling Bee Final took place at Cambridge University on Wednesday 6th July 2011, and the Royal Alexandra and Albert school was one of over 20 schools from across the country that was represented on the day.

The competition was immense; of the 33,000 students who took part nationally in September, 32 got through to the French final and 31 for the Spanish final. We were proudly represented by two of our students on the day and one was the representative regional winner of the French Spelling Bee competition.

Being the very first National Spelling Bee competition of its kind in a foreign language, the competition was fierce, with students from highly competitive and high-achieving backgrounds, all competing to be the best linguist and the best Spelling Bee.

The competition was tough because students were required to translate and spell a word, from a list of 200 words, in the target language within one minute, in front of a professional panel of three judges, as well as a large audience of teachers, students, parents and the media. Students had to pronounce the word correctly, and be able to spell it in the target language using the foreign alphabet. Students also had to translate the punctuation and any accents.

The atmosphere in the lecture theatre of Cambridge University was intense. In spite of this, the two students managed to stay calm throughout the competition, and they were able to answer every question thrown at them within the time limit.

During the French competition, there was a ‘Sudden Death’ round as several students had achieved the same number of words correctly thus demonstrating that they could all be the winners. This ‘Sudden Death’ round was not against the clock, however, emphasis was placed on the accuracy in pronunciation and the correct spelling of the given word. The rules had suddenly become much stricter as a result of the quality of the competitors. Despite the tremendous pressure of this final round, Rachel managed to beat her rivals to secure 4th place as the National Spelling Bee finalist winner!

Both pupils managed to overcome all the obstacles of this competition to succeed: from winning Stage 1 of the competition within the classroom with only 50 words to learn, then subsequently winning the regional Stage 2 final at Brighton University, to finally facing the large audience at Cambridge University for the national final.

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