Youngsters get ready for spell of grammar

21:50, Jun 17 2014
Spelling competition
Waihopai School South Spell team members, from left, Ataahua Hona, Baillie Allison-White, Rhylee Akeroyd and Jake Kura, all 10, prepare for tonight’s Southland-wide spelling competition.

Can you get your bearings around the homophones beer and bare?

Realise the link between real eyes and real lies? Negotiate the change between two, to and too?

Youngsters across Southland preparing for tonight's South Spell competition can, after weeks of practising spelling, apostrophe use and nuances of grammar tricky enough to trip most adults.

About 40 teams of year 5 and 6 pupils and about 25 teams from years 7 and 8 will be vying for a shot at the South Spell title and bragging rights of being the sharpest spellers in Southland.

Event co-organiser and James Hargest College teacher Jane Mika said the competition, an annual event that has been running for about 10 years, aimed to encourage students in the pursuit of English language skills.

Spelling and knowledge of language were always important skills to have, and the competition was a fun way of encouraging them, she said.

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The event can get very competitive and nerves certainly played a part on the night as students did not know exactly what they were going to be asked, she said.

Waihopai year 5 and 6 team member Rhylee Akeroyd said her team had been practising two days each week to prepare for the event.

One of the trickiest things to learn was Maori spellings, but the team had been working hard, she said.

They also schooled up on homophones, synonyms and other parts of language.

Fellow team member Ataahua Hona said it came down to practise making perfect.

"The more you practise, the more chance you have of getting it right."

South Spell takes place today from 5pm at the James Hargest College senior campus.

The Southland Times