Unam takes the honey at Sanlam Spelling Bee

By Aina Raiza Kweyo

UNIVERSITY of Namibia students reigned supreme in a battle of the wordsmiths this past weekend when the university hosted the third tertiary level spelling bee, the Sanlam Unam Spelling Bee.

Initiated to provide a platform for students to practice and expand their English vocabulary and usage by exposing them to difficult words through such competions, this year 44 students, particularly from Unam and IUM, participated in the competition.

After several knockout rounds, 21-year-old Education student Linea Kapofi from Unam’s Khomasdal campus emerged as the overal winner, walking away with N$5,000 in prize money.

”I was driven to win. I had to excel, I had to push myself and set an example for others to come. The spelling bee has made me a very confident woman and without it I would have not gained confidence in my writing and speaking. I have great understanding of how to use words in the correct setting and conversation.”  Kapofi said.

She further emphasised the importance of spelling for her career as an upper primary English level and sign language educator. “I believe spelling is important because it’s part of how we speak. English is a medium of instruction at upper primary level.

“In order for me to develop myself and become a better teacher I need to take part in spelling competions, as it’s not only best for my career but also for me as a citizen. Spelling a word is not necessarily the same as pronouncing it and being an eloquent speaker does not mean you can write properly,” she noted.

Rossy Tjiriange, also from Unam’s Khomasdal campus, walked away with N$2,500 as second prize while Helena Ilovu who is enrolled at Hage Geingob campus won N$1,500 as third prize. IUM students fought a good fight and were placed in the top four overall.

Sanlam marketing and communication manager Hilaria Graig said students need to be exposed to English, even though it is not their first language. “The Spelling Bee serves as an excellent platform for students to learn new words and develop their vocabularly.”

Unam Language Centre director Jill Izack spoke about the importance of good spelling as an academic requirement, saying “Students’ incorrect spelling in academic writing has became a great concern. Research shows that students have inadequate receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge to cope with the academic demands of tertiary education.”

The Sanlam Unam Spelling Bee, established in 2017, was fully funded by Sanlam to the value of N$60,000. All participants received a participation medal and an Oxford English Dictionary.