The spelling bee has been going on for over a week, so when I was offered the opportunity to go to our district spelling bee I decided to take them up on it.
There are two representatives from each school. One is to spell in English and the other is to spell in Samoan. They are given about twenty words from all of their subject areas and are to spell them correctly, getting points for each correctly spelled word.
The year 8 teacher was to bring their two students, which was easy if the year 8 teacher had a car like ours does. However, some teachers and students had to wait for the bus, hitch rides, or even take a taxi. This meant that people were showing up at different times to the event, and we started about an hour late since we had to wait for each school to arrive.
While we were waiting I greeted the teachers I knew, and spent time with the kids. I am surprised with how many students know me from all over. I just kept hearing, “Hi Lili!” for all different directions. I had my IPod, since I was originally going to be at school, and we do many sing a longs in class, so a few of us sat in the corner listening to music while singing and dancing in our chairs while we waited.
The event started like most events in Samoa, with a prayer. They then went over the rules for the competition and what to expect the following week. The students were to have 5 seconds to spell the word, a time that I thought was surprisingly fast. They then called 5 schools up to compete.
First 5 students competed in English, then the next 5 competed in Samoan. I learned quickly that spelling bees are completely different in America. First off, I felt horrible for the children, because the announcer did not always have the best pronunciation, and often dropped letters, especially at the end, which caused the students to spell the words incorrectly. Often they said a different word than what they were supposed to spell. Only once did they offer a sentence for the word to ensure the student had the correct word.
One of the announcers cut students off too quickly saying it was incorrect, while the other announcer gave them a second to resay in the correct spelling.
The words that they used are supposed to be words that come up in English class, Samoan, math, social science, and basic science. It still cracks me up when I hear the word math pluralized to become maths, along with other math terms like subtraction becoming subtractions. I never heard before coming here, “Take out your maths book and practice subtractions of three digit numbers.” Okay…well subtractions I guess can work sometimes, but maths I don’t think ever does.
To make the spelling bee even harder students had to remember to say capital letters for proper nouns, and Samoan markers such as ‘ and -. This makes spelling so confusing in the different languages.
When all ten students were finished, the second round started, and finally the third.
The event ended with ice cream and cookies for the teachers, which they shared with their students. We then got clamshells full of food to bring home to eat.
I learned that spelling bees are completely different than they are in America, and I tried to explain the differences to my year 8 teacher on the drive home. Children are given more chances here, and they are willing to repeat words, while in America it seems like they have an unlimited amount of words to use. Also, spelling bees would last a day, and not weeks.
We then discussed the meaning of the word, bee as in spelling bee. I explained that it is an in school competition for subjects like spelling, geography, math and others. (Is that correct?)
Next week the television camera are coming to film the semi final round. (Not that we have a working antenna to watch it at home.) I was told to get a new outfit made and to come back.
Maybe I will to see how it turns out…