International Spelling Bee Competition for Asian students will be held at Al Nahda Girls National School, Abu Dhabi next week. Parents of qualifiers and bon voyagers are in troubled times arranging visas and travel documents at short notice. Many regret having to lose the opportunity of their wards due to constraints beyond their control. As per the existing norms, minors traveling abroad must invariably be accompanied by their parents.
Largest Spelling Bee competition in Asia would be a tough tour for spell-bee winners and qualifiers, found CalicutNet. The last lap of the present competition is to be held at Al Nahda National School, Abu Dhabi on 6th and 7th January 2012.
The firm offers a tour package to Dubai during this peak season of air traffic with the Dubai Shopping festival in tow. It is the time when regular NRI families return to UAE to join duty after annual vacation. So, naturally the airfares, rate for standard accommodation facilities and sight seeing are high.
The formalities associated with passport application and visa processing is also tedious during this period. Availing visa for parents who are planning to take their kids just to attend the competition are Herculean a task, as most local agencies do not cater to visa services towards the exact destination of the contest.
According to many parents the time fixed for final round of competition, that too in Abu Dhabi without an extra option in India has brought them into time and resource constraints.
Organized by a private firm based at Kochi, Kerala; Spell Bee is a popular programme off late. Aptly described as an English Olympiad, it conducts competitions for students of classes 1 to 12, in six categories.
‘Children are excited to participate in this game- like activity with different elements of a Language Olympiad. The organizers are very child friendly and kids really enjoy the events-’opines Priyanka Viswanath, a home maker in Kozhikode.
“We are aware of the venue and processes of final rounds just during national orals in Thrissur.That too, details were not confirmed. Just recently the formal information on the international round was circulated. Even the result of national orals held at Lulu International in Thrissur was updated last fortnight.”-says Uma Mahadevan, guardian of a national winner.
‘The website of the organization has been updating most crucial information timely. However, information on how the program proceeds through different stages, the criterion of knock-outs, status of performance evaluation of individual students, the content and standard of materials, lack of work books, especially for the junior categories are all lacking still. Scores and grades of the participants are also alien to parents and their teachers to evaluate their scope.”-says an English teacher. She has been guiding her students’ whole year through for the competition.
Mentoring the students to make them perfect in the competition itself is a tough task on the part of parents. Only very few schools have skilled language specialists to take care of the contestants. Even if a paid orientation class is provided by the organization, it is not enough to make the child ready to make a mark in the run.
‘The organizers are claiming its transparency and self-motivated modules through out the course. But many a participants point out that there was no self- motivating manuals or modules. They are providing us only minimum guidance and some dictionaries. How can we follow dictionaries alone at this stage?’ asks Anushka Chaudhuri at Lulu, the venue of national competition.
‘It’s not a catwalk for even bright students with good English back ground. A viable combination of strenuous practice, professional guidance and extensive reading are some of the tips for a winner’-responds a group of participants in unison. “It is a game of luck for the pioneers as new items are integrated in each and every round.”
‘The study material provided during orientation for each round either a week or fortnight before the competition forms only a basic outline on which we have to build up’-says Radhika Rao, mother of a seven year old participant.
‘Result of each and every round is just a word that your kid is qualified or not. If the scores were announced without delay along with result, parents and teachers can mentor their wards in a more effective manner for the upcoming events. But, here transparency is not ensured on this evaluation aspect in spite of a high registration fee for the examination’ –says Sunita Gawain from Maharashtra.
“The competition begins from School rounds with a meager participation fee of rupees 150 per head. Growing stages of competition mark growth of expense also in a progressive manner; i.e striking brilliant 5000 rupees for finalists.
Apart from this, each orientation is charged separately. These two elements alone drained our purse by a quarter lakh in a short span. Other expenses including travel, food, accommodation and coaching are exclusive ’-says Muhammad Yunus an NRI guardian based in Calicut.
“Traveling to UAE amidst peak season that too as a tour package is another blow to the show”- he concluded.
Many of the parents and teachers of participants are unaware of these long procedures up to final destination regarding the content, syllabus and expense of the program.
Freshers of all categories have a hard time to fit the spell bee in their schedule and the task becomes more tedious, if the kids are more active in other extra curricular activities.
Getting attuned to British accent is also a true barrier for beginners; especially on computers that too within a short span of time.
Dictations, jumbled words, spell it, pronunciation, synonyms and antonyms, word usage, grammar, idioms, phrasal verbs and cross word puzzles make the game truly intriguing.
“An event with immense opportunity for personal development of participants at their own expense could have been planned and coordinated in a more conducive manner for participants”- says Balakrishna Pillai from Thiruvananthapuram.