TESOL Co-Hosts First Global SpellEvent Championship (August 2009)

On August 10, 2009, TESOL and Franklin Electronic Publishers, Inc. cohosted the Global SpellEvent Championship in New York City. The culmination of 18 months of planning, the event saw student participants from seven different countries competing in an English spelling competition for a grand prize of US$10,000.

Originally announced at the 2009 TESOL convention in New York City, TESOL and Franklin entered into a partnership to sponsor English language spelling competitions in select countries around the world. Working together with TESOL’s affiliates, TESOL and Franklin held regional events in April and May of 2009 in the following cities:

  • Ankara, Turkey (hosted by INGED)
  • Beijing, China
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina (hosted by Argentina TESOL)
  • Mexico City, Mexico (hosted by Mexico TESOL)
  • Munich, Germany
  • Rome, Italy (hosted by TESOL Italy)
  • Seoul, South Korea (hosted by Korea TESOL)

Clara Sofía Brunetto of Argentina is presented the grand prize at the first Franklin Global SpellEvent Championship. Standing with Clara are (l-r) TESOL President Mark Algren, Franklin Electronic Publishers CEO Barry Lipsky, and TESOL Executive Director Charles S. Amorosino, Jr.

Over 300 students, ages 15 and under, participated in the local events. To prepare for their local SpellEvents, teachers and students were provided with a list of practice words that included pronunciations, definitions, word origins and example sentences. The participating schools were also provided with participation kits that included both print and electronic dictionaries provided by Franklin. Affiliate leaders coordinated the regional events, with a member of the TESOL Board of Directors and a TESOL staff member serving as judges at the events. First and second place winners from each regional final SpellEvent competition were awarded an all expenses paid trip to the United States, along with a parent or guardian, and the opportunity to win the Grand Prize US$10,000 scholarship at the Global SpellEvent Championship in New York City.

The Global SpellEvent Championship was held at the Jumeirah Essex House Hotel in New York City, and was hosted by TESOL member and New York Times 2009 ESOL Teacher of the Year Tamara Kirson. Serving as judges at the Championship were TESOL President-Elect Brock Brady and Treasurer Marti Edmonson. TESOL President Mark Algren and Executive Director Charles S. Amorosino, Jr. were also on hand to welcome the participants and present the prizes at the end of competition.

Prior to the start of the competition the participants received welcome greetings from affiliate leaders Mary Beth Flynn of TESOL Italy, Ana María Rocca of Argentina TESOL, Maria Isabel Arechandieta of Mexico TESOL, and Fatma Ataman of INGED, who were all on hand to watch the competition. The participants, who had gotten to know one another during several social events prior to the competition, demonstrated a true spirit of sportsmanship by cheering and encouraging each other throughout the competition. After 2 hours and 14 rounds Clara Sofía Brunetto of Argentina was crowned the winner by correctly spelling the word bizarre. Coming in second place was Lee Yun Yong of South Korea., with Carolin Lenz of Germany coming in third, and Zhichuan Duan of China in fourth.

Plans are currently under way to expand the Global SpellEvent in 2010 to an additional five countries, bringing the total number of participating countries to 12. In addition to all the countries that participated this year, TESOL affiliates in France, Senegal, Chile, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia (Moscow) are all expected to host regional SpellEvent competitions in April and May of 2010.

More Resources:
  • Position Statement on International Education (March 2003; PDF)