On February 13, English Language Fellow Vanda Simpson joined with key partners to present the Inaugural Spelling Bee for Teachers in Kyrgyzstan. Simpson collaborated with the local American Corner coordinator, Erali Torogeldiev, and Peace Corps Volunteer Lynn McCullough on the event, which drew in twenty-five enthusiastic teachers from the Faculty of World Languages and Cultures (INFAC) at Osh State University as participants. Representatives from Kyrgyz-Uzbek University and INFAC students were also in attendance to support the contestants. The contestants really got into the spirit of a spelling bee, asking for repetitions, checking parts of speech, and getting clues from usage in sentences and word origins.
The event presented an opportunity for teachers to gauge their spelling skills with those of their colleagues in a friendly competition. It provided a platform for displaying their knowledge of word origins and their function, and it was impressive to see the local teachers’ skill in connecting sounds and spelling. The teachers commented on the challenges of spelling English words, which after all derive from so many languages (Greek, Latin, French, German, and so many more). Several teachers said they were inspired to show their students how these features affect spelling. For one teacher, letting her students wrestle with spelling was the key point. “This is a good experience for our students to see us using the strategies we teach them,” she said.