Top Tips for Spelling Bees

By Alice Jenkins, Year 10 Journalist Leader

When I signed up to the House Spelling Bee, I had no clue that it would be in front of the whole of Year 10, 11, 12 and 13. So imagine my terror when the year groups began to walk into the hall! My heart was racing and hands sweating as Mr Shoults pulled out the first house badge from the bucket for year 10. Thankfully, it was Hepburn, meaning I wouldn’t have to go first.

After an impressive round by Phoenix Rotimi, I felt faint with apprehension. Somehow I knew that the next badge would be Nightingale. And I was right. Slowly, I stood up and wobbled to the laminated bee stuck on the floor. Apparently, the term ‘Spelling Bee’ comes from the Middle-English word ‘bene,’ meaning ‘prayer’ or ‘favour.’ I, however, think that it must come from the terrifying buzzing in your ears as you stand in front of 120 people ready to recite spellings, unprepared, in timed conditions. Or maybe it is from the word ‘favour.’ I certainly needed a few of those in that moment.

Suddenly, everything went quiet as one of the Nightingale house captains, Aditi, read out my first word. ‘Chihuahua.’ Or ‘Chihuawa’ as I thought it was spelled. Thankfully, I had a better idea of how to spell… some… of the next few words. After a few minutes, I sat down and watched girls from other year groups struggle with increasingly difficult words.

After a commendable effort from everyone who took part, it was time to announce the winner. Nightingale! I was so relieved to know that it was not in vain. I am not a natural public speaker, but feel that I learnt a lot from the experience.

Here are my top 3 tips for doing a Spelling Bee!

  • Don’t listen to the audience. They probably think that they can spell the word better than you, and they probably can, but they aren’t the ones that need to say the answer!
  • Speak slowly and clearly. If you speak too fast, not only may you get confused, but the person checking the spellings might hear you wrong.
  • Breathe. If you get panicky, as I did, then you will forget how to spell the simplest of words!
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