Monday, May 17, 2010

NST Spell It Right Experience: Preliminary Rounds

Monday, May 17, 2010
NST Spell It Right(SIR) 2010 logo
Imagine standing before a crowd and being asked to spell words that you had mostly never heard of before. Imagine getting an unsympathetic gaze from the presenter as you spell. And imagine having to spell the word out in less than 20 seconds. Well, if your imagination is spot-on, then you would know that I refer to the Spell It Right competition co-hosted by the New Straits Times and RHB Bank.

I had always wanted to enter this competition, but after two missed chances, I finally had the opportunity to pit my wits against pretty much all the best spellers from the whole of Selangor. As I prepared for the competition, I really didn’t know what to expect as I had never taken part before, but I had some clues after having watched several episodes of the competition on TV the years before.

I took part in the Selangor leg of the competition that was held at Subang Parade on the 16th of May. Officially, there were around 45 schools and over a 170 students that took part in the competition. I wanted to reach the final round at the very least, and who knows prop up with something more than that.

However, as I witnessed the first few preliminary rounds, I started getting butterflies in my stomach. Those guys and girls were superb. It was as if they had memorized the dictionary from cover to cover, something that I had not done. I still had a chance though I thought, if the words that I got were those that I knew how to spell.

Rehman Rashid, the presenter

After waiting in earnest for more than two hours, the time had come for my turn. I was third up to spell. I heard the presenter, Rehman Rashid, a senior NST man, say ‘Rustic’. Not too tough and a good warm up I thought as I spelt this first one correctly.

For the second round, the stakes were higher and the degree of difficulty was increased. Me palms were getting sweaty now. And oh yeah, did I forget to mention that one wrong alphabet at the wrong place would mean that you are on your way home. And that only one participant from each preliminary round will make it to the finals.

As I went up to the microphone for the second time, I was asked to spell ‘Hydrofoil’. I had never come across this word before but after hearing the definition which amounted to something like an aerofoil, I let out a sigh of relief as I got it right. This was followed by being asked to spell 'Vanguard'. Knew that one from the Star Wars games I play.

Now, for the fourth round of the preliminaries, there were only three of us left. The first, a Malay girl, got her spelling wrong, so it left two of us on stage. I was given the word ‘Extrapolate’. At first, I didn’t know what it was but after hearing the definition, I realised it was something I had learnt in Physics and I got it right. And I was on my way to the finals after the last contestant bungled her spelling.

Click here to read the second part of my experience, the final round that is.
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