Spell­ing whizzes in fi­nals

Whangarei Report - - NEWS -

In pri­mary school Shi-on

Ko and Jack Trub­shaw were so ad­vanced in spell­ing their teach­ers made them go through the dic­tionary and pick words to be tested on.

Now, aged 14 and 15, the two Whanga¯ rei stu­dents have made it to the New Zealand Spell­ing

Bee fi­nals in Welling­ton on Novem­ber 3.

Ko, a Year 10 stu­dent at Whanga¯ rei Boys’ High School, and Trub­shaw, a Year 10 stu­dent at

Huanui Col­lege, made it to the fi­nals af­ter out­spelling stu­dents from around the re­gion in two semi­fi­nals in Au­gust.

“I was quite amazed that I made it through to the fi­nals be­cause I watched it on TV a few years ago and I was like ‘wow, they’re so good, I’ll never get through’ but then I did,” Trub­shaw said.

Ko was also sur­prised: “I was so con­fused, I was like ‘okay, I’ll take it’.”

To get into the semi­fi­nals, stu­dents first have to take a spell­ing test and get 75 out of 100 words cor­rect.

In the semi­fi­nals, spell­ers are elim­i­nated as they get words wrong un­til there is one per­son left. The fi­nals fol­low the same for­mat.

Both Ko and Trub­shaw said they spent about an hour a week pre­par­ing for the fi­nals.

“I just look at lots of words, I search up on­line lots of dif­fi­cult words to spell and go over them,” Trub­shaw said.

“I just look over the words and get my mum or one of my fam­ily mem­bers to test me on it. If I get it wrong I’ll just keep do­ing it un­til I know I’ve got it right. I think I learn bet­ter from mak­ing mis­takes,” Ko said.

But with so many pos­si­ble words to learn, the pair each have their own tricks.

“I learn the lan­guage of ori­gin be­cause that kind of helps with other words,” said Jack.

“I learn the spell­ing rules be­cause most words fol­low a pat­tern — like i be­fore e ex­cept af­ter c — they help you to know what to do,” Ko said.

The pair have al­ways been good at spell­ing. Ko’s mum said when he was at pri­mary and in­ter­me­di­ate school he had to pick words from the dic­tionary to be tested on be­cause he was ahead of the set list. Trub­shaw’s mum said he was the same.

Now they en­joy the chal­lenge of it.

There are 19 fi­nal­ists in the New Zealand Spell­ing Bee and the win­ner will re­ceive a tro­phy and $5000 to­wards their aca­demic pur­suits.

PHOTO / JOHN STONE

Shi-on Ko, Whanga¯ rei Boys’ High School, and Jack Trub­shaw, Huanui Col­lege, are head­ing to the New Zealand Spell­ing Bee fi­nal in Welling­ton next month.

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