Spelling Bee entrant packing big dictionary

KIMBERLEY CRAYTON-BROWN
Last updated 05:00 16/05/2012
Ryan McLellan
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ

BIG STUDY FIELD: James Hargest College year 9 student Ryan McLellan, 13, has been studying thousands of words to prepare for an international spelling bee.

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When Southland teenager Ryan McLellan travels to the United States next week for the "Olympics of Spelling" he will have to pack lightly - his dictionary alone weighs 5 kilograms.

The James Hargest College student will represent New Zealand at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland at the end of this month.

When he was crowned NZ Vegemite Spelling Bee Champion in Wellington in March, part of his prize was the hefty dictionary containing more than 470,000 words, any of which could be put to him during the competition in Maryland.

A nervous and excited Ryan, and his mum, Stacey, leave New Zealand on May 27 and will have a few days to adjust to the new time zone before the preliminary spelling bee rounds start on May 30.

It will be the 13-year-old's first trip overseas.

One of his study strategies had been to study the Greek and Latin roots of words.

Another challenge had been learning the American spelling of each word.

"Some of them are really quite different; you don't usually pick it up, but there is quite a lot of difference," he said.

Busy juggling school work and studying for the spelling bee, he said he was "barely managing" at the moment.

But he hoped his hard work would earn him a place at least in the semifinals, something a Kiwi entrant had not yet achieved.

Ryan did not know why he had a talent for spelling, but thought having a passion for it and reading helped a lot.

James Hargest College senior woman Jenny Elder said the school was very proud of Ryan and wished him all the best for the competition.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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