With Spelling Bee 2020 Kickoff swiftly approaching, more than 6000 students across the country have been diligently studying the 500 words for the school competitions!
In our recent newsletters, we have tried to discern and share the savvy studying strategies of the champions and their mentors. The October issue featured Victoria , 2019 champion, and her father and coach Dimitar, who devised a clever review method despite not speaking English himself, and Daniel, four-time national finalist. Beyond the mechanics of memorizing new words, their interviews offer valuable illustrations of collaboration and perseverance!
We hope that more young people in Bulgaria will empower their peers and contribute to their communities, which is why the slogan of this years' Spelling Bee is "Share the BEE Spirit!". We seek to encourage participants and their schools to share insights and learning resources and involve others to create even livelier and more uplifting "beehives" around Bulgaria.
We are eager to see what our participants come up with!
2020 is the 10th Anniversary of the Bulgarian National English Spelling Bee competition! What once started as the adventurous project of two Peace Corps volunteers in Bulgaria, Felicia Bivens and Erin Raleigh, has grown into a beloved tradition that involved around 300 schools from all over the country just in 2019!
There is no better way to celebrate than recognize the efforts and accomplishments of students, teachers, volunteers, parents, and donors! In order to share their fascinating stories, we have started publishing a monthly newsletter – our “Beelletin”.
The September issue featured the reflections of Felicia Bivens, Spelling Bee co-founder, and the fellow Peace Corps volunteers who helped bring about the very first competition.
They discussed some of the major challenges they faced, such as persuading local teachers that organizing a spelling competition, a mostly unfamiliar concept up to this point, was worthwhile and enlisting other supporters. On the other hand, they said, the impact of the competition was immediate: it rewarded the most hard-working students, not necessarily those who entered with better prior knowledge of English, turning into a vital lesson on the importance of perseverance and dedication.
A group of remarkable former “bees” we interviewed for the newsletter perfectly echoed these reflections. We visited the beehive of the “Dr. Ivan Seliminski” School in Sliven, which has taken part in all Spelling Bees since the beginning and boasts an outstanding number of national finalists!
To read these stories in full and stay tuned for more, subscribe to out Beelletin!
The best English spellers and their teachers spent a week together and didn't want to part. The English language camp was their deserved award for being ambitious, persistent and confident in learning difficult English words and performing in front of a big audience.
The camp was held in the scenic town of Razlog from 7 to 13 July, 2019. In the mornings students participated in activities such as Environmental awareness, Volunteerism, Tolerance building, Writing poetry. The teachers attended sessions on Communicative teaching methods and activities and sharing ideas and good practices. In the afternoons the participants could choose from a variety of activities including hiking, cooking, languages, sports, arts and crafts, etc. In the evenings we organized fun activities such as Tme management game, Quiz night and Amazing race. All camp participants had the opportunity to experience American culture through learning about holidays and celebrations, making tie-dye shirts, enjoying s’mores at the campfire, baking chocolate chips cookies, etc. There were two day trips organized for the participants – one to the Pirin National Park and the other to the Belitsa Dancing Bears Park. The highlight of the summer camp was the Talent show during which both students and teachers danced, sang, showed tricks and immensly enjoyed themselves. The following disco night was probably the most emotional part of the camp when all campers expressed their gratitude to the counselors and fellow bees.
Here are some of the answers to What did you like most about the camp? question at the end of the camp:
*The games, the activities and the people
*Every event in the camp was well thought and organized
*We did so many interesting things! I made new friends, learnt about American states, improved my English
*I had to break out of my comfort zone and to speak English all the time. I got much better at the end!
The Spelling Bee National Final took place on April 21st at the American College of Sofia. The 30 best spellers from the whole country impressed the jury with their confidence, knowledge and concentration. After 4 hours of rigorous spelling this year's Spelling Bee champion is Viktoria from Kyustendil. Viki is a 7th grader and has been a national finalists for the past three years.
Here is what she shares about herself:
"I learn the words with my father who comes up with some pretty complex teaching methods. Even though he doesn't know English, he practices with me every day. I always brag about what a good teacher he is. I love reading, especially comic books in English and Japanese. I started learning Japanese on my own but now I'm taking classes at a language center. I'm fascinated with Japanese culture and traditions and love animated movies. After high school I want to continue my studies in Japan."
The National Final was a true celebration! Have a look at the pictures for a glimpse at the emotions here
The school competitions are just around the corner and our bees are busy learning the words from the new study list. This year more than 6500 Bulgarian students from 297 schools will participate in the 9th Bulgarian National English Spelling Bee. The first stage of the competition will take place in the week of February 25 - March 1. Schools registered for participation in the end of October and the students had 4 months to learn 500 English words. Keep your fingers crossed beacuse the winner and the wunner-up from each school will continue to the next stage - the regional competitions.
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