Buzzing with language

The annual Sanlam Unam Spelling Bee is the only event of its kind at tertiary level and provides students with the opportunity to improve their language skills.

27 August 2019 | Education

Mariselle Stofberg

Language is a central part of communicating and helps one to express your opinions, hopes, dreams and aspirations.

Sanlam, in collaboration with the University of Namibia (Unam), hosted the third tertiary level spelling bee known as the Sanlam Unam Spelling Bee on 17 August at the Unam main campus in Windhoek.

Linea Kapofi of Unam ‘out-spelled’ her opponents and took first place, receiving N$5 000.

Kapofi also walked away with a floating trophy, an English dictionary, a participation medal and a stationery pack.

The spelling bee has been running since 2017 and students who participate have the opportunity to be exposed to new words, which allows them the opportunity to improve their spelling and their general language usage and vocabulary.

“With that being the case, we really hope all three universities in Namibian start taking part in the competition. This year only students from Unam and IUM took part. Next year, we hope students from Nust will also participate. From our side, as Sanlam, we want the spelling bee to become an important event on the university student calendar and wish that participation increases with even more students taking part,” said Hilaria Graig, the marketing and communications manager at Sanlam Namibia.

Jill Izaks, the acting director of the Unam Language Centre, said the spelling bee plays an important role in raising awareness of the power of words and language.

“The establishment of the Sanlam Unam Spelling Bee in 2017 by the language centre was primarily to raise awareness of the importance of words,” Izaks said.

She added that incorrect spelling by students and the use of wrong grammar in academic writing have become a great concern. “Research also shows that students have inadequate receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge to cope with the academic demands of tertiary education. The spelling bee is therefore an excellent platform to raise awareness of the importance of vocabulary knowledge,” she added.

Graig said while English is not the first language of most Namibians, it is the official language of the country. She stressed that students thus need to be exposed to English and use the language properly, especially when it comes to academic writing.

The 2019 Sanlam Unam Spelling Bee competition was fully funded by Sanlam to the value of N$60 000. All participants walked away with a participation medal and an Oxford English dictionary.

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