Who will be the Italian emula of Ananya Vinay? A few days ago Ananya won the 90th edition of the annual American spelling competition. After 12 hours of competition, this 12-year-old Californian girl managed to win the tournament and take home $ 40,000. Ananya was the best among 11 million American students at saying the letters that make up difficult words.
Why not do a spelling championship in Italy too? No sooner said than done. It is organized by the Municipality of Romagnano Sesia (Novara) together with the town’s school, thanks to the idea of a young councilor, Alessandro Carini, a computer teacher.
The competition will take place on April 14 and is sponsored by the Novara Provincial School Office. “The idea – says Carini – came from talking about it with English colleagues. In America spelling is very popular, and it is not just a competition, it is a learning method, an exercise that enhances the ability to pay attention, concentration and memory, because you have to know how to combine letters with sounds, and it is not always easy since in English pronunciation is very different from spelling ». Fifth grade kids will try to match graphemes and phonemes correctly. Schools will be able to register a maximum of three competitors, their best pupils, and about forty schools throughout Italy have already signed up.
“The jury – specifies the councilor – will be made up of native speakers, who have no relationship with the school, in order to have total impartiality in the judgments”. The judge will choose a word and the contestant must spell correctly. We will start from a very simple level to move on to increasingly difficult words. “Even the themes that will be chosen – recalls the councilor – will be those provided for in school programs, from food to animals, from games to objects that are used at school”. The word pronounced by the judge can be repeated up to three times, then it will be up to the competitor to repeat it and finally perform the spelling in a predetermined time.
Prizes for everyone, but of course special prizes for those who get on the podium: the winning pupil’s school will receive a cup, awarded with the Champions League mechanism; the school keeps the trophy on the showcase for a year, then puts it back up for grabs. After three victories, the cup remains with the institute, which will become the Real Madrid of spelling. Romagnano, 3,000 and 500 inhabitants, will offer the Bernabeu of the situation: «We do not yet know – says Carini – if the competition will take place in the Municipality or at school. It will depend on how many subscribers we have. Many will also arrive at the stadium, why not? ».