Spellmasters Australia

Media Releases

Meet Declan The 5 Year Old Spelling Bee Prodigy
Little Big Shots Australia
Channel 7
September 17, 2017

5 year old Declan Sander appeared on Little Big Shots. We are very proud of him and excited that Spellmasters provided him a way to show his talent. Well done, Declan.

Busy bee excels in his spelling
Moreland Leader
22 Feb, 2016
Emma Hastings

Busy bee excels in his spelling CAMERON Naug is proof practice makes perfect when it comes to mastering spelling bees.The nine-year-old from Pascoe Vale won the Spellmasters Australia junior division round one this month, having previously finished runner-up and third several times.
The Pascoe Vale Primary School Grade 4 student put in the hard yards to take out the competition, practising with a dictionary every night in the lead-up.
"I usually take out a dictionary and my parents will find a word and they ask me to spell it," Cameron said.
Some of the words he was asked to spell on his way to victory included "ingredients", "tattoo", "furtive" and "debris".
Grade 3/4 teacher Beth Walter said Cameron had done fantastically well to win the competition.
"It's wonderful that he has these skills," Mrs Walter said. "He's fairly much an all-rounder, really."
Cameron now goes on to compete in the junior finals at the end of this year.
But while he loves spelling, his career ambitions are quite different.
"Maybe (I'll be) a footy or a cricket player," he said.
Spellmasters Australia runs monthly competitions for students up to Year 9.
Details: spellmasters.com.au

Young Riva's got the good word on spelling success.
Wyndham Leader
June 29, 2015
Sarah Anderson
Picture: Mark Wilson

Riva Dubey won the round 5 Spellmasters Australia spelling competition junior division. Picture: Mark Wilson RIVA Dubey did not panic when she was asked to spell words like sanctuary, superior and genre in a spelling bee.
Instead the 11-year-old Point Cook girl spelt them out to win the junior division round five competition in the Spellmasters Australia competition.
Riva won the Macquarie Dictionary first place prize, a $50 voucher and a place in the junior finals at the end of the year.
The Point Cook P-9 College grade 5 student said she was happy she won after participating in the competition for three years.
"This is the first time I've won," she said.

Riva said she competed because she liked spelling and it helped her improve.
She said she practised in the lead up to the competitions.
"I look at random words in the dictionary and learn them."
Spellmasters Australia runs monthly spelling competitions open to all school students up to Year 9.

Spell of good fortune
Caulfield Leader
27 May, 2015

Whizkid Aadi Dapurkar, 10, has won a senior spelling competition. Picture: TANYA FRY A JUNIOR spelling prodigy from Murrumbeena has won the senior division of a Melbourne spelling competition with a bit of luck.

Aadi Dapurkar, 10, will advance to Spellmasters Australia's end-of-year finals after he competed in a qualifying round on May 17 and won the senior division.
The Grade 5 student from Murrumbeena Primary School placed third in the junior division and then dad Rajesh suggested he give the senior division a go.
"I asked him and he said OK. I didn't expect him to win," Mr Dapurkar said.
Aadi said he was "stoked".

"I didn't know the words so I just guessed them," he said.
Spellmasters Australia started in 2006 in response to concerns around literacy levels, organisers say.
*Details: spellmasters.com.au

Srihari spells success
Waverley Leader
6 Jan, 2015

MULGRAVE boy Srihari Mohan is a natural at spelling. MULGRAVE boy Srihari Mohan is a natural at spelling.

The 11-year-old won the junior division of the Spellmasters 2014 finals and only practised for three days before the competition.
Srihari, a student at Glen Waverley Primary School, said his winning word was "persevere".
It is the second consecutive year that Srihari has won the competition and he said his dream would be to compete in the prestigious National Scripps Spelling Bee Competition.
Part of Srihari's prize haul was a subscription to a spelling practice computer program for his whole school to use.
Srihari Mohan won the junior division in the Spellmasters grand final.

Glen Waverley Primary School Newsletter
November 13, 2014


Congratulations to Hari Congratulations to Hari
Hari (Year 5) has certainly had a very busy and amazing year! Recently he participated in the "World's Greatest Shave" initiative and raised over $400, last week he informed me that he also participated in the Australian Air League's essay competition and over the weekend he competed in the Spellmasters Spelling Finals.

During the second week of the recent school holidays, the Australian Air League celebrated their 80th Anniversary in Canberra. As a lead up to this they organised various competitions for the cadets from all over Australia. Hari and his family drove to Canberra for the celebrations and also stayed for a while. Hari participated in an essay competition on an aviation topic and won first place for his age group which is fabulous and a real credit to Hari.

Last week Hari received a plaque at our school, which was supposed to be presented to him by his Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove in Canberra, however due to time constraints, the awards ceremony was cut short. Once again, congratulations and well done Hari - as this is another wonderful achievement!

The Australian Air League Waverley Squadron meet in our school hall every Thursday evening from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. If your child is interested in participating please call Mr B Tran on 9713 0356 or 0408 389 478 or alternatively pop in and see him on a Thursday evening as they always welcome new members.

Hari is also a member of Spellmasters and on Sunday he competed in both the Junior and Seniors Grand Final. For the second year running, he was named the Spellmasters' Junior Champion which is a fantastic achievement. Hari also achieved second place in the Senior Division where he competed against children in Years 7, 8 and 9. Once again, another outstanding effort!

His list of prizes for winning the Juniors Championship from the sponsors include:

  • A yearly rolling trophy that will stay at GWPS with his name inscribed on it (same as last year)
  • A personal trophy for him to keep at home
  • Macquarie Dictionary Sixth Edition - by Macquarie Dictionary
  • Spellodrome subscription 12 months - for personal use - by 3P Learning
  • Spellodrome subscription 12 months - for whole school use - by 3P Learning
  • Escapism party package for 6 - by Strike at QV in the CBD
  • $100 Book Voucher at Readings Bookshops - by The Satir Centre
  • Kobo Mini eBook reader - by Vita-Minis

His list of prizes for winning 2nd place in Seniors Division from the sponsors include:

  • Australian Encyclopaedic Dictionary - by Macquarie Dictionary
  • Spellodrome subscriptions - for personal - by 3P Learning
  • $50 Book Voucher at Readings Bookshops - by The Satir Centre
  • Kobo Mini eBook reader - by Vita-Minis

The above is certainly a very impressive list of prizes Hari - once again, well done and congratulations!

Hari and his family have also decided to donate some of the dictionaries and also the yearly Spellodrome subscription to our school. Naturally we are extremely grateful for their generosity - thank you so much Mohan, Priya, Srinidhi and Hari!

For those who may not be aware, 3P is the company which offers the online learning resources such as Mathletics, Into Science and Reading Eggs which our school subscribes to. The Spellodrome yearly subscription is valued at $2,600.00. Once again, congratulations Hari and thank you for your very kind offer and generosity!

At Monday's assembly, Lili, from Spellmasters, will visit our school in order to present Hari with the winning trophy.
If you are interested in your child participating in Spellmasters, please refer to their website: spellmasters.com.au.
Round 1, is being held on Sunday February 22nd 2015.

Heathmont College student Christopher De Jong spells success at Spellmasters
Maroondah Leader
July 29, 2014 12:00AM
Thomas O'Byrne

Heathmont College student Christopher De Jong spells success at Spellmasters. HEATHMONT College student Christopher De Jong's worship of words spelt success during a spelling competition last month.

The young wordsmith came second in the senior division of a Spellmasters event in South Melbourne.
Christopher's second placing was enough to secure a seat in the Senior Spellmasters grand final.
Participants are each given a word to spell and are disqualified if they get a single letter wrong.
"The competition was pretty strong that day," Christopher said.
"The winner lasted nine rounds, which was surprisingly long because usually the events only last about five words."
Christopher fell just short of first place after failing to spell "purport".
"It was the only word I had never heard of before, so I asked for a definition and for it to be used in a sentence," he said.
Tracing his spelling skill back to when he was just a toddler, Christopher still has extensive training sessions in the days preceding the competitions.
The Year 8 student said he was inspired by his fellow competitors.
"Everyone is just such a good sport," he said.

Junior whiz getting a buzz out of spelling bees
Dandenong Leader, Page 2
Monday, April 14, 2014

Spelling whiz Anirudh Kathirvel, 8 hopes to be national junior champion. Picture: Chis Eastman A THIRST for knowledge is taking Anirudh Kathirvel to new heights.
Last month, the Keysborough eight-year-old won round two of the Spellmasters Australia Junior Division spelling bee, earning him a place in the finals on November 9.
Anirudh attends Kingston Heath Primary in Cheltenham and was put up a year level based on his ability.
Last July, in his maiden competition, involving 17 other schools, he won the Spellmasters Australia Junior Division Round 5.
"I felt very happy and excited about winning," said Anirudh.

Difficult as ABC
Anne Summers Reports
Jade Ginnane
Number 6, February 2014

Srihari Mohan from Glen Waverley Primary School was Spellmasters 2013 Junior Champion. SOURCE: SUPPLIED Competitive spelling is one way to bring out the best in our kids-and help them learn at the same time.

SPELLING BEES, where students demonstrate their ability to spell difficult words, are not yet in the same league in Australia as they are in the US. This is something Lili Hampel, a former teacher who lives in Melbourne and who is a self-proclaimed lover of words and all things English language, is hoping to change. Hampel is coordinator of the Victorian initiative Spellmasters which, she concedes, has a way to go before it can hope to rival its American counterpart. But she is determined to help it along as much as possible.

Anand Bharadwaj from Trinity College was Spellmasters 2013 Senior Champion. SOURCE: SUPPLIED The Scripps National Spelling Bee is as interwoven into American society as the Big Mac. Every year since 1925 one child is catapulted into celebrity status, taking home a gigantic trophy and financial reward for his or her hard work.
Spelling bees are big business in America and in recent years the national competition has recorded an increased rate of participation. The appeal of the spelling competition has become so large that the "Nationals" event is broadcast live on television by ESPN...

Read the full article

Spellmaster Srihari not that typo guy.
Waverely Leader
Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mulgrave boy Srihari Mohan is never lost for words. Mulgrave boy Srihari Mohan is never lost for words.
The 10-year-old was named the Victorian junior champion of the prestigious Spellmasters spelling bee, held on November 10.
Srihari's spelling coach - and dad - Mohan Iyer said his son was a voracious reader and aviation buff who could spell complicated words such as "onomatopoeia" when he was at kindergarten. He beat out competitors from 12 other Victorian school to take out the Spellmasters title.
Mr. Iyer said his son, a Year 4 student at Glen Waverley Primary School, attended monthly spelling competitions.
His spelling bee prize haul included a Macquarie Dictionary and e-book reader.

Cheltenham super speller has every letter on the tip of his tongue
Moorabbin Kingston Leader
Troels Sommerville
Sunday, 20 July, 2013

COMPLEX words come easily for young Kingston Heath Primary School spelling empresario Anirudh Kathirvel. COMPLEX words come easily for young Kingston Heath Primary School spelling empresario Anirudh Kathirvel.

The Keysborough seven-year-old prefers words like "therapeutic", "eucalyptus" and "phenomenon", which were just three of the words that helped him on his way to his maiden spelling competition win.
The grade two student, who revels in new words, won his maiden competition when he beat out students from 17 other schools to take out the Spellmasters Australia Junior Division Round 5.
His dad, Prith Kathirvel, said his son was "rapt" with the win after entering other spelling competitions but up until last week coming up empty-handed.
"I just couldn't believe it that I won first prize," Anirudh said.
Also an avid reader, he naturally cultivated a love of words and the worlds they create for him.
"It's fun and it helps you learn new words, then you can practice writing them and using them," he said.
Prith said his son was a bit of an all-round student and he just liked to encourage his love of words.
"It's not formal practice, I just ask him words while driving or open up the dictionary and ask him how to spell some complicated words," Mr Kathirvel said.
Along with the glory of his first competition win Anirudh also won a Macquarie Dictionary, a $50 voucher and a place in the Junior finals at the end of the year.

Magic Speller
Caulfield Glen Eira Leader, Front page & Page 7.
Tuesday, 18 June, 2013

Age is no lexicological barrier for Caulfield Grammar wordsmith Julian, 8, who has won a place in a national spelling bee final. Picture: Valeriu Campan Age is no lexicological barrier for Caulfield Grammar wordsmith Julian, 8, who has won a place in a national spelling bee final.

JULIAN Adey has won his way to the finals of a national spelling competition after correctly spelling many words adults would struggle with.
The Caulfield Junior College Grade 4 student and McKinnon resident nailed words including "staccato", "ornament" and "supplement" to become Spellmasters Australia's round-four champion on June 2.
The win came our of left field for mum Karen, who registered eight-year-old Julian the night before the contest, after they discovered it online together.
They did an online search after watching a movie about a spelling contest.
"We wondered if there was anything like it in Melbourne and found there was one the next day," she said.
"Julian got very excited... but he wanted to go so I took him."
Ms Adey said Julian has always loved school and learning.
"He's a very enthusiastic kid," she said.
"He reads a huge amount, so I think he just picks it up from there."
His prize included a Macquarie Dictionary, a $50 book voucher and a place in the finals held at the end of the year.
Spellmasters Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that started in 2006 in response to community concerns about literacy levels. Competitions are open to all Australian school children.

Lleyton can spell victory
Waverley Leader, Page 28.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lleyton from CAMELOT Rise Primary School is the 2012 Spellmasters senior champion. CAMELOT Rise Primary School student Lleyton, 11, is the Spellmasters senior champion, winning with the correct spelling of 'paroxysm'.
The Grade 6 student defeated Year 9 students to take out the senior title.
He said he listened carefully to the word when it was read out and then tried to form it in his mind.
Camelot Rise also achieved well in the junior competition with Grade 4 student Kimberley Eu placing third in the junior championship.

Word wizard's winning spell
Australian Jewish News, Page 14.
Timna Jacks
Friday, December 2, 2011

Adam Keren-Black competing in the Spellmasters competition. Photo: Daniel Weinstock KING David School student Adam Keren-Black is the 2011 Spellmasters champion, after beating out the best in the state to claim the coveted title.
The son of Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black, Adam blitzed eight qualifying rounds with flawless spelling to secure a spot in the senior division of the national championships on Sunday November 13 at the South Melbourne Community Centre, where he was crowned speller supreme.
Competing against students from more than 20 Victorian schools, some up to two years his senior, Adam admitted that he was "pretty nervous", even battling a "tummy ache" throughout. But by the time he took the microphone, the anxiety quickly left him.
"I make myself speak slowly and clearly, and generally - when I'm actually spelling the words - I'm not that nervous. It's only between my goes," Adam said.
While Adam studies hard to achieve spelling superiority, he has pedigree too, with mum Sue also a word whiz.
Sue is an avid reader and speller, and both children have followed in her footsteps, with Adam's sister, Naomi, 16, also having success at spelling bees.
"They're all-rounders", Adam's father said, before adding: "maybe except for sport."
The London-born Keren-Black family migrated to Melbourne 11 years ago, when Rabbi Keren-Black was offered a place as rabbi of the Leo Beck Centre for Progressive Judaism in East Kew.
Lili Hampel, Spellmasters Australia coordinator, lauded the "academic family" and the children's shining spelling success, saying that spelling skills are indicators for future success.
"Good spellers understand how language works.
"if a child believes that words make a difference, then that child will take more effort and give more in terms of persistence and perseverance. They will think: "If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it correctly," Hampel said.
"Adam is extremely modest and quiet, he doesn't have any backlash. He doesn't go flaunting his skills, he is a delightful young man," Rabbi Keren-Black said.
Other competitors in the 2011 Spellmasters' competition included Beth Rivkah Ladies' College students Zara Feil, Aviva Basserabie and Sarah Basserabie, Mount Scopus Memorial College student Romy Miller and Bialik College student Ari Miller.

Triple-triple could not topple this genius
The Age
Vince Chadwick
Friday, December 16, 2011 - 3:00AM

Wordsmith: Anand Bharadwaj was reading at 15 months and at four amused fellow preps by naming train stations in Melbourne sequentially. Photo: Pat Scala FEW Scrabble players recover from a triple-triple. The newly crowned World Youth Scrabble Champion, Anand Bharadwaj, explains that if an opponent covers two triple word squares their score multiplies by nine and adds 50 points. Such was Anand's predicament earlier this month at the finals in Malaysia when his opponent played "waysides" for a tournament-high 176 points.
His father, Melbourne Business School associate professor Kannan Sethuraman, was sitting outside.
"It was a crucial game, and everybody wrote him off. The ushers came and told me, 'He's trailing by 160 points, I think it's gone.' I didn't know what to expect, but he came back and said, 'I won it.'"
Anand has a habit of coming from behind, recalling from memory another game where he trailed 498-422.
"I had 'bendies' on my rack, then I was thinking with an 'r' that makes 'bendiers'. Hang on, 'bendier', the anagram of that is 'inbred' and if I put an 's' on that, that's 'inbreds'. So I went out with 'inbreds' for 76, getting double 'o' on his rack, to make my score 500 to his 498. He was kind of shocked." In Scrabble terms, his opponent had been "pipped".
Anand is 11. The year 5 student was younger than all but three of the 83 competitors he beat in Malaysia and has his sights set on the World Scrabble Championship in 2013.
Fellow Australian and world No. 4, Andrew Fisher, mentors Anand, offering advice of equal benefit to the rank amateur.
"Master the short words initially," he says, "the two and the three [letter words] are very important."
Anand spends half an hour each day on a computer program, banging out anagrams at about one per second. The aim is to master the 130,000 words officially accepted in Scrabble. Though to label him a Scrabble player would be like calling Barry Jones a quiz master, or Condoleezza Rice a pianist. Each wunderkind steers themselves.
"I love music," Anand said, nominating Bach as a favourite. He composes on piano and yesterday he walked across the living room, picked up his flute and delivered a flawless rendition of Bach's Polonaise in B minor.
The family moved to Melbourne from Chennai when Anand was 13 months old. By 15 months he was reading on his mother's knee, able to page reference any quote from dozens of books. At four he kept fellow preps entertained by naming train stations in Melbourne sequentially.
An admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, Anand hopes to take after his mother, an epidemiologist, and study medicine.
In his voluminous vocabulary, is there a favourite word? "Douleia," he says. "It means worship of saints and angels." And it uses all the vowels.
This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/tripletriple-could-not-topple-this-genius-20111215-1oww6.html

Tintern student spells success
Maroondah Leader
Friday, March 11, 2011

Adhithi Subramanian. Picture: Marcella Davie TOP speller Adhithi Subramanian has plenty of reasons to smile.
The grade four Tintern School student recently came second in the first round of the junior division of the Spellmasters Australia challenge.
Adhithi will now represent the school at the grand finale at the end of the year.
The Spellmasters program is designed to address literacy issues and boost students' self-esteem.
Details: spellmasters.com.au.

Lleyton's subtle way of winning
Waverley Leader
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lleyton Joseph has won the spellmasters Australia 2010 Junior Championship. Picture: EUGENE HYLAND N30WG207 SPELLING is as easy as A-B-C for Camelot Rise student Lleyton Joseph.
The 10-year-old has taken out the national title in the 2010 Spellmasters Australia Junior Championships, impressing judges and his mum by spelling "subtlety" to win.
"I hadn't heard of the word 'subtlety' so I wasn't expecting to get it right so when I did it was amazing," Lleyton said. The avid reader has a good memory, which helps with his spelling, and enjoys English at school.
Lleyton's mother, Edna Joseph, was "very proud" of her son and had not expected him to win.
"I knew he didn't know the word we hadn't practised it so I thought he might get it wrong," Mrs Joseph said.
Lleyton, who is also a maths and science whiz, beat about 20 other children in the junior section for students up to grade 5.
The grade 5 student hopes for a repeat of his success when he enters this year's competition.
Spellmasters Australia is a non-profit organisation that began in 2006 in Melbourne as a response to the concerns of parents and the community in failing literacy levels.

Nine-year-old heading to World Scrabble Champs
Melbourne Leader, Yarra Edition, front page
Monday, November 16, 2009
Reporter - Kristin Owen

A CLIFTON Hill Primary School student will become the youngest person ever to play in the World Youth Scrabble Championships when he competes in Malaysia next month.
Nine-year-old Anand Bharadwaj has also just become the Spellmasters 2009 Junior Division Champion of Victoria.
And the Indian-born boy's first language is Tamil, not English. Nonetheless, he denies having swallowed a dictionary.
"I don't exactly study or read lists; sometimes dad asks me some questions before a spelling competition but nothing else really," Anand told the Melbourne Leader.
"I would never read the dictionary."
He much prefers Harry Potter and is now reading, the Indian epic Mahabharata, a major text of Hinduism which attempts to explain the workings of karma and which has about 1.8 million words.
Anand's parents read to him from the age of 18 months "and somewhere along the way he picked up how to read", his dad said.
By the time Anand was in prep, he was reading Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree.
The popular word game remains his favourite hobby but "still, I need spelling skills for Scrabble so it all ties in," he said.
When asked to describe himself, the eloquent youngster replied: "Diligent, kind, friendly."
Scrabble Victoria president Marj Miller said Anand was a graceful competitor.
"He really is a lovely young man," she said.
"He always loses with grace. He's more gracious than some of our adult losers."

Lawrence Money
The Age
Friday, July 10, 2009

WHERE are the apostrophe police when you need them? Local spelling bee queen Lili Hampel has returned from a word-perfect overseas trip to find this horror confronting her at Sydney Airport: "Out of it's carry bag." Go to the back of the class!

Kyoto has a way with words
Caulfield & Port Phillip Leader Newspapers
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

ELWOOD'S Kyoto, 7, thinks spelling is as easy as ABC.
Kyoto won the round four junior division competition in the Spellmasters Australia spelling bee.
To win, she had to spell the word separate - which she said more than 90 per cent of Australians usually misspell.
Other words she spelled correctly included specimen, eventually, pantomime and serenade.
"I won and it was really exciting," Kyoto said.
"It was good because I was the youngest as well and I won."
Kyoto will head to the grand final round in November and is hoping she has what it takes to beat the rest of the competition.
"There might be some hard words that I might not actually get, but I love these hard words," she said.
Kyoto's mum Ingrid said her daughter had an amazing memory and she hoped she could be the state's top speller.

Hearing Loss No Handicap For Champ
Marooondah Leader
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Reporter - Shaun Campbell

Jemma Robinson is no witch but she can sure cast a spell. The Yarra Valley Grammar year 7 student won the first round of this year's Spellmaster senior division spelling bee on February 22. Jemma was diagnosed with a progressive hearing loss when she was two but the magic of technology - in this case a cochlear implant inserted in 2007 - meant the Glen Waverley 12-year-old tackled words, such as opponent and ravine, with ease.
"I can hear a lot more than I used to, a wider range of sounds and from a longer distance," Jemma said. "I was a little bit nervous standing up on stage in front of the crowd, but was pretty excited when I won." Jemma said it was the first time she had competed in a "proper" spelling contest. "I did a lot of preparation. Mum was giving me different words to spell and some came up during the competition," she said. "It was really good and I really enjoyed it."
Yarra Valley Grammar hearing unit teacher Julie Gillespie said Jemma had now qualified for the Spellmaster finals at the end of the year. But she said spelling was not the only string to Jemma's bow. "Jemma also taught herself how to play guitar and plays the cello," Mrs Gillespie said.
"She is an excellent student who is really passionate about reading, writing and her music." camps had been cancelled.

Whiz wins with words
Caulfield Leader
Tuesday, December 2, 2008

SPELLING is a breeze for 11-year-old wordsmith Ruby Capp.
The year 5 Ripponlea Primary student has won the Spellmasters 2008 Junior Championships. Ruby, from St Kilda East, was up against 20 finalists from 18 schools across Victoria.
"The words got harder as it went along." Ruby said.
"I'm really pleased, I never expected to win."
"I've liked spelling since I started school amd I love reading. I read a lot."
The self-confessed bookworm was asked to spell words such as "xylophone", "sapphire", "seige", and "existence" at the November 9 competition.
Though they were challenging Ruby said the words in last year's competition were more difficult for her.
For her efforts Ruby won a Macquarie Dictionary, the Franklin's Electronic Book Publishers prize, a $50 book voucher and the Spellmasters' junior trophy.
Sahil Lobo from St James College in East Bentleigh won the senior division.

Words whiz wins title
Moorabbin Leader
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

SAHIL Lobo was never so happy to hear the word "nonchalant".
He nonchalantly spelled it out and the correct spelling took him to the title of Spellmasters Champion 2008.
Earlier this year we brought you his story after the St James College student won the third qualifying round in the Spellmasters Australia 2008 competition.
On Sunday, November 9, Sahil went even further.
He was crowned with the title of Spellmasters 2008 Senior Champion.
He won a Macquarie Dictionary, the Franklin's Electronic Book Publisher's prize, a $50 book voucher and a trophy.
Sahil was also awarded a perpetual trophy for his school. This will be engraved with his name and will reside at St James College until the 2009 finals.
He competed with 25 finalists from 16 Victorian schools to win the competition with words such as "arduous", "impromptu" and "austere".

Little masters of spelling
Indian Link
July 2008

View Article

NAINA PADUKONE discovers young talent making an impact at an unusual academic skill

HOW OFTEN has it happened that you try and spell a word, only to get stumped right in the middle of it? This does not seem to be a problem with the talented children who compete at Spellmasters Australia. What makes these children stand out from the rest?

Saurav Das (13 years), a Year 8 student from Melbourne's Haileybury College has just won the Senior Division Round 4 of the Spellmasters spelling competition. He won the monthly $50 prize money, the Macquarie Dictionary first place prize and a place in the final at the end of the year. Some of the words he was asked to spell were "pharmacy", "retrieve" and "wrath". Saurav is also the winner of the 2007 Spellmasters finals.
Asked why he wanted to compete yet again after carrying away the trophy last year, he states that winning for two consecutive years in a row would be a tremendous personal achievement.
Saurav joined Haileybury College in Year 7 after securing a scholarship in 2006. He enjoys playing basketball and is an ardent reader. Saurav also takes part in quiz competitions run by his community and at other social functions.
His brother Somesh Das (10 years), a Year 5 student from Holy Trinity Primary School won the 2nd Place in the Junior Division. Some of the words that he had to spell were "reservoir", "squall" and "digital". Somesh won an electronic pocket dictionary and a place in the finals at the end of the year. Somesh too plays basketball, chess, table tennis and the piano.
Proud father Hillol Das is a Consultant Psychiatrist at Pine Lodge Clinic, Southern Health and mother Purabi assists her husband with the administrative work. When asked about their sons' outstanding achievement and what preparations have gone into them, the parents confirmed that both Saurav and Somesh are avid readers and always refer to the dictionary if they have a spelling to verify. They are exceptional students and have been good at academics from the onset. The family migrated to Australia from Tripura in 1996, and have pretty much settled here.

Another outstanding achiever is highly motivated Anand Bharadwaj (8 years), a Year 2 student from Clifton Hill Primary School, who won Spellmasters Round 4 Junior Division competition. Anand won the monthly $50 prize money, the Macquarie Dictionary first place prize and a place in the final at the end of the year. Some of the words he was asked to spell were "scheme", "panicking" and "souvenir".
Says Lili Hampel from Spellmasters, "When Spellmasters commenced in 2006, it was open to students from Year 2 up to Year 9. Anand was so keen to be a part of the competition that the entry level was changed, and it is now open to all school students from Prep to Year 9." Anand has been competing at Spellmasters since he was in prep and competes at both the junior and senior level. In 2006, he stood third in two separate qualifying rounds in both the junior and senior competitions. In the senior competition he was a prep student competing with Year 9 students. He continues to be an enthusiastic competitor at Spellmasters. In Year 1 he won a qualifying junior round, and now in Year 2 he has once again won a qualifying junior round, as well as coming second in a senior qualifying round.
"Spectators are always amazed and delighted by the spelling ability and confidence of this pint-sized spelling whiz. He captures the hearts of all who watch him," adds Lili.

Anand will go on to compete at both levels in the end of year finals where he will have the chance to win prizes and the Spellmasters trophy for his school.
Lili Hampel, who runs Spellmasters Australia in Melbourne, has completed two Masters Degrees, one in Education (English) and Arts (English), from Monash University. She was the scriptwriter for the Channel 10 children's show Off the Dish and an English coordinator at two secondary colleges. She has written stories for various publications here and overseas, and was a ghost writer for a newspaper columnist. With an array of achievements there is no doubt about her passion for English and spelling. She launched the organisation after being inspired by the movie Spellbound and the reaction of the audience.
Asked if the children who compete at Spellmasters need any special pre- requisites she states that spelling really involves knowing the basic rules, letters and patterns, and. at looking at how words are formed. She is also happy with the response from parents and schools in adding to the success of Spellmasters Australia. She states that the enthusiasm from the parents is overwhelming.
"Any child with the enthusiasm to participate and improve their confidence as well as their spelling, can enrol for the competition. They are not given gruelling words but everyday words that can be broken up. These competitions help students improve their understanding of the English language, their spelling techniques and in consequence their comprehension, and communication skills," she states.
Parents should take inspiration from these young achievers and encourage children to develop new skills in spelling. Kids from South Asian backgrounds have always been particularly skilled at spelling. Those who have seen the award-winning American documentary Spellbound will know this!

War of the words winner
Moorabbin Glen Eira Leader
Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oakleigh South student Sahil Lobo was never so pleased to hear the word "scoundrel" aimed at him.
But he spelt the word correctly and moved a step closer to victory at a Spellmasters Australia Spelling Bee.
"It was pretty nerve-racking at the start but as it went along I got used to it," Sahil said.
The year 8 student from St James College in East Bentleigh won the senior division.
"They have as many rounds as it takes to get a winner," he said.
The 12-year-old said he had high hopes for the future. "I've got aspirations to be a doctor when I'm older,"Sahil said.
He won $50 in prize money, a Macquarie Dictionary and a place in the final.

Give Us A Bee!
Cool kids reckon spelling rools OK
The Sunday Magazine
February 18, 2007

War of the words
Kate Browne

Read the full article

Meredith Cheng has just been crowned a champion. She beams as she stands in front of hundreds of applauding spectators, the media, family and friends. A huge silver cup is thrust into her hands, dwarfing the tiny eight-yearold as she struggles to hold it above her head. Is she a new swimming champ? Has she "won an AFI Award?
Completed a concerto on the violin? No, Meredith has just dodged the perils of words such as "personification", made it around the curly bend of "deciduous" and hurdled to victory with the word "irresistible" to clean up in the Juniors final of the NSW Premier's Spelling Bee. With the kind of adoration generally reserved for sporting achievements, it seems Australia has a love affair with good old-fashioned spelling. It all started in 2003 with the release of the US documentary Spellbound, which covered the nail-biting journey of eight American school kids to the finals of the National Scripps Spelling Bee. Then came the bestselling novel Bee Season (which was made into a film starring Richard Gere), and last year's film Akheela and the Bee. There's even a musical - the Broadway hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (described as "Survivor for nerds") was staged by the Melbourne Theatre Company in 2006 and will hit the stage in Sydney in June this year. Even reality TV got in on the act in late 2005 when the Seven Network hosted The Great Celebrity Spelling Bee.


Les Posen, who, along with schoolteacher Lili Hampel, runs Victoria's Spellmasters Australia, is delighted that spelling is back on the agenda. "The importance of spelling waxes and wanes in education over the years but, at the moment, we are swinging back to a focus. I think it's because people are actually writing more. Even when people wrote letters, they might write one and then it would take six weeks to arrive. These days the amount of emails and text messages flying back and forth each day is immense. Often, email is the first contact you can have with someone, even an employer. And let's face it, spellcheck doesn't solve everything; it certainly doesn't pick up homonyms such as 'their' and 'there'."


Read the full article

Caroline spells winner
Stonnington Leader
Tuesday, January 2, 2007

S-E-C-O-N-D spells success for Caroline from St Joseph's Primary School in Malvern. The nine-year-old finished runner-up in the junior division at the recent Spellmaster Australia grand final, held in Glen Iris. The competition is a haze for the dictionary dynamo, who only remembers spelling the word "knowledgeable" correctly to secure second place. "I was nervous at the beginning, but I started to calm down after I got one word right," Caroline said.

It was agonising
The Age
December 7, 2006

Lawrence Money

YOU could have cut the air with a knife when Jake Malouf, of Gippsland Grammar, reached the final hurdle in Spellmasters' state spelling comps in Glen Iris last weekend. Having finished one clear of the pack, Jake had to spell one more word which, observed pronouncer Les Posen, was rather appropriate under the circumstances: "excruciating". The answer was excruciating too: Jake got it wrong. But he went on to a spiflicating win in the rematch.

Spelling her way to success
Lilydale Yarra Valley Leader
October 30, 2006

Queen of the spelling bee: Buk at Mooroolbark's Pembroke Primary.

IMAGINE coming to Australia from the Sudan at the age of four, unable to speak English, and then winning a state-wide spelling competition at 11.
That's precisely what happened to Pembroke Primary Year 5 student Buk, 11, of Kilsyth.
She won the Spellmasters Australia senior division for up to Year 9 in the seventh round held at Glen Iris this month.
"My winning word was 'acquaintance'," Buk said. "The other contestant tripped up with 'recommended'.
"I was very happy when I won. I had sort of a feeling that I might and mum said I might.
"The words weren't hard but I made two or three mistakes like 'propeller'.
"They spelt it 'er' but in the dictionary at school it's 'or' so that's how I spelt it," she said.
The next competition will be in Glen Iris on December 3, Buk's 12th birthday.
Buk said she did advanced spelling from Years 7 and 8 in her Grade 5 classes.
"I like to read my favourite Roald Dahl books when I'm not too busy after school.
"I go to the library, play basketball and I like to cook cakes and biscuits.
"But maths and spelling are my favourites," she said.
"When 1 finish school 1 would like to be a doctor,"
Buk is the daughter of David and Rebecca and the only girl in a family of five boys.

Beth Rivkah student wins spelling bee
The Australian Jewish News
September 15, 2006

In 'Blackboard' by Darren Levin
Beth Rivkah student Anya Bonan Won first place in the Spellmasters Australia competition last week

BETH Rivkah Ladies College student Anya Bonan came first in the junior division of the Spellmasters Australia spelling bee last Sunday.

The Grade 4 student, whose strategy involves tracing the letters onto her hand, won $100 and will now compete in the finals of the competition in December.

Mikaela Webb, a Grade 3 King David School student, tied for second place in the competition, which was open to all schools in Victoria.

Spellmasters Australia began this year in response to failing literacy levels. It runs monthly spelling competitions for students in primary and secondary schools.

Boy genius casts his spell
Stonnington Leader
July 18, 2006

OPPOSITE spelled success for whiz kid Trent Jones.

The Malvern Primary Grade 1 student out-spelled 20 older children to claim the title of junior spelling champion of the Spellmasters Round Four competition on July 9.
Trent, who was the only six-year-old in the competition, had to successfully spell words such as museum, haste, canoe and yacht to claim victory.
His winning word was opposite.
In September, Trent will compete in the senior division of the competition and put his spelling skills to the test against Year 9 students.
Spellmasters founder Lili Hampel  said Trent was capable of out-spelling 15-year-olds.
"He is a genius,"' Ms Hampel said.
"He has studied stockmarkets and astrology and he loves to read.
"He could easily compete at a senior level."'
Jasmine Liu, 10, of Toorak Primary School, won the Round Four senior division.
She was also named Australian Schools Spelling Assessment state champion last November.
The next round of Spellmasters will be held on August 13 at St Andrews parish hall in Glen Iris.
Details: spellmasters.com.au

Schools abuzz over spelling bees
The Age
July 24, 2006

Children are fast falling under this English teacher's spell.
Elisabeth Tarica reports.

LILI HAMPEL thinks it is ironic that a month after seeing Magda Szubanski, one of her former VCE English students, perform in the Melbourne Theatre Company's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, she launched a company promoting spelling bees.

However, her move to spread the spelling gospel is unlikely to surprise any of Ms Hampel's past students. A stickler for grammar and punctuation, the English teacher was once dubbed "Miss Apostrophe".

Frustrated by dips in literacy levels, Ms Hampel started Spellmasters Australia to refocus on the basics. "As an English teacher for well over 20 years, I am absolutely passionate about English and spelling and grammar," she says.

"I've always taught spelling rules (but) I find today that a lot of teachers don't, and spelling in general, I think, has suffered."

Spelling bees, it seems, are hot. The enormous popularity of the 2002 documentary Spellbound was an early sign that geek chic was moving out of the advanced class and into the spotlight.

In America, competitions such as the Scripps National Spelling Bee attract huge interest and prizes. The ESPN cable sports network has aired the Scripps finals since 1994. This year it moved into prime time on the free-to-air ABC network, attracting 9 million viewers, who watched a 13-year-old New Jersey girl rattle off "ursprache" to take home more than $US72,000 in cash and prizes.

NSW has the Premier's Spelling Bee but Melbourne, known for its sports-mad culture, was not offering much for its young intellectual athletes.

Now, encouraged by the popularity of the movies Spellbound and Akeelah and the Bee, and the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Ms Hampel feels her initiative is timely.

"Australian students haven't had a tradition of spelling bees as they've had in the US, where I think spelling competitions began in the 1920s. Spellmasters, I suppose, was trying to fill that need as well as to see whether students here would be interested in competing this way," she says.

The answer didn't take long to surface as schools embraced the idea, enrolling groups of six to eight children.

More than 100 students from prep to year 9 have entered the spelling bee so far, and last week's round saw six-year-old Trent Jones from Malvern Primary School outspell grade 5 students to win the junior competition.

Nicole Hills, a grades 5 and 6 teacher at Toorak Primary School, says the competitions have improved children's spelling while boosting their self-esteem and confidence.

"They love it; it's fiercely competitive but in a fun way," she says. "It's an achievement for them to get up and face their fears about getting up in front of a group of people, and the recognition they've received has given them such a boost of confidence, and that spreads throughout the grade. I've seen an enormous benefit back in the classroom."

Ms Hills says the spelling bee has also sparked new interest in spelling rules, letter patterns and word origins. "They are slowly starting to come to the realisation that you just can't pull out a random list of really difficult words from the dictionary. Spelling really involves knowing spelling rules, letter patterns and blends, looking at origins of words, and sometimes it's simply memory with really awkward words."

It is this push for back-to-basics learning, Ms Hampel says, that helps to improve spelling and literacy in general. "I'm stunned that people don't know the 'i before e except after c' basic spelling rule," she says. "I also tutor, and the students I come across rarely know basic spelling rules or word patterns, which I find unusual."

Most students she tutors are at VCE level. "There has been a drop in the levels of literacy and I've noticed that students are less concerned if they can spell well or produce sentences that are well structured, partly because it has been accepted that it's not vitally necessary."

She says Spellmasters uses everyday words, unlike American competitions that throw in uncommon, trick words such as ursprache and weltschmerz.

"We try to make it a learning process as well as a competition. I have very simple words in spelling tests and they can still throw students out. I'm not trying to cause the students to fail."

Some commonly misspelt words are dessert, embarrass, separate and definitely.

Good spellers, Ms Hampel says, know basic spelling rules and understand how words are formed. "If you learn those, you're that step closer. After that it's understanding basic roots and how words come together and language origins." Good spelling also accelerates reading, she says.

PM calls for tougher English curriculum
The Age
April 21, 2006 - 12:21PM

Prime Minister John Howard says the study of English should be treated like professional sports training.
"It does amaze me that a great sporting nation like Australia would never accept anything but the very best when it came to training methods for its athletes," Mr Howard told Southern Cross radio…
"When it comes to an appreciation of our language we can have one state, for example, saying its students won't be penalised if they have bad spelling or bad grammar."

The Age - Diary Column
Lawrence Money
February 7, 2006

A spelling mistake by intrepid fashion reporter Holly Lloyd-McDonald, the multi-wardrobed lass who once bravely trapped herself in a car boot to illustrate Maria Korp's tragic tale, prompted training guru Kim Lockwood to draw it to the attention of the subeditors who knock copy into shape. Here is the offending paragraph: "When photographers clamour along the sidelines and male spectators have to lie on their bellies to peak under court awnings for a glance, you know something's going on."

Of course, it's the wrong peak but the poor journo is so flat-chat
multiskilling, following the catwalk and the crime beat, that she needs some understanding. But here's a peek inside the mind of subeditor Russell Coulson, who vented this: "Such errors should be picked up even though our pitifully small number of subs work under enormous, unrelenting pressure. Such errors wouldn't exist in the first place if some of our reporters, chiefly the younger ones, would desist from writing like primary-school drop-outs.

"This sort of galloping illiteracy is sadly becoming increasingly frequent in copy and correcting it takes up an increasing amount of subs' time. "Perhaps it should be impressed upon reporters once again that they read over their copy carefully before sending it.

"If that makes no difference - if some have managed to pass through the education system without learning about such things as spelling, punctuation and grammar - then they have no option, as supposedly professional writers, but to take steps to educate themselves. I - and you, I'm sure - could recommend some reference books. As you may have gathered, I'm fed up with the situation."

By David Wroe and Chee Chee Leung
December 9, 2005

EVERY child will be given a "literacy plan" and be tested heavily on their reading skills in the first three years of school under sweeping changes flagged by the Federal Government.

University teaching students will have to pass literacy tests before they graduate and school curriculums will be overhauled to emphasise teaching practices that are proven to be effective.

Education Minister Brendan Nelson floated the changes yesterday after launching a major literacy report that raises questions about the way reading is taught in Australian schools.

"At the moment, we've got a problem where unfortunately a lot of teachers have not been taught how to teach our children reading in the most scientific way," Dr Nelson said.

"The end result is we've got about 30 per cent of Australian children leaving the school system functionally illiterate, having trouble with basic spelling, grammar, punctuation."

Report backs literacy basics
Samantha Maiden
December 8, 2005

AUSTRALIA's literacy war will be reignited today with the release of a damning report into teaching methods that supports a push for back-to-basics learning?The report will demand the reintroduction of phonics, which relies on knowledge of the alphabet and decoding words by breaking them into syllables and sounds - such as CAT: C-A-T - as the centrepiece of teaching literacy. It will also recommend a radical shake-up of teacher training in the nation's universities and national literacy tests for under-8s. The Australian revealed last month the report would also demand that every child be tested for basic skills when they start school and twice a year for the first three years.

Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson has already pre-empted the findings to back the national testing plan. He is expected to shortly announce further reforms to shake up teacher training, accreditation and introduce mandatory tests to ensure graduates do not struggle with basic spelling and grammar.