The 2019 English words’ spelling competition for all learners; Benefits for learners, teachers and How to participate

Background Information

The Kenya National Spelling Bee (KNSB) is a registered educational Organization in Kenya, and is also a founding Member of the African Spelling Bee Consortium.

KNSB is Kenya’s largest English Language Spelling Championship started in a quest to promote a reading culture and help Learners improve their communication skills; develop & nurture intra-personal skills and values such as self-esteem,self-awareness, confidence, personal integrity, encourage critical literacy & reflection; inspire intercultural understanding by creating learning communities in which Learners can increase their understanding of language and culture deliberately designed to help them become more globally engaged.

KNSB operates in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, the Kenya Private Schools Association and the Kenya Primary Head Teachers Association, among others.

Annual Competitions

The primary role of the Kenya National Spelling Bee is to promote a reading culture among Learners. The championship is designed to provide Learners with the opportunity to read carefully selected content during their preparation for the championship and thereafter a platform, to put their spelling skills against one another by applying strategies to help them spell both familiar and unfamiliar words correctly.

Noting that English is the predominant language of international education – in diplomacy, external trade, civil aviation amongst others, KNSB resolves to contribute to the development of Learner’s self-esteem, creating pride in academic achievement and in the process helping to build a solid foundation for their future education and careers.

In order to enrich the learning experience of Learners and to empower English Teachers, we organize annual;

  • Teacher training and sensitization forums across the Country
  • Spelling Bee written tests for Learners
  • Spelling Competitions where we Recognize, Celebrate and Reward the top Spellers, their
  • Spelling Bee TV Show
  • Spelling Bee camps

How to register for the 2019 Competition

Use any of the methods below to REGISTER for the 2019 Spelling Bee Championship:
1) For Mobile Registrationi. Dial *384*228# on Safaricom or *283*228# on Airtel.
ii.Send REGISTER to 21228 or,

2) To register more than 5 pupils CLICK HERE
3) To sponsor a pupil(s) CLICK HERE
4) To register as an Individual, click here and fill out the form, online;

What a learner can do to perform well in Spelling Competitions

The best thing you can do to improve your spelling is to read a lot and look up words that you don’t know in the Oxford dictionary. But here are some more focused suggestions for studying to do well in spelling bees;
  • Learn as many words as you can.
  • Study the most common words first.
  • Focus on the words that are tough.
  • Write the words somewhere. Just
    writing the words will help you remember them
  • Get a copy of the OXFORD Dictionary if you can. It’s the official dictionary for the Kenya National Spelling Bee Championship.
  • Have a teacher, friend or family member help you by pronouncing the words.
  • Learn more about prefixes, suffixes and other combining forms, as well as word origins (etymology).
  • Increase your vocabulary by reading books, journals & newspapers…
  • Study in groups.
  • Play word games.
The best thing you can do to improve your spelling is to read a lot and look up words that you don’t know in the Oxford dictionary. But here are some more focused suggestions for studying to do well in spelling bees;
  • Step forward (to the
    microphone, if there is one).
  • Face the judges.
  • Speak clearly and loudly enough so that they can hear you.
  • Use the English alphabet only.
  • Many languages use the Roman alphabet. Do not use the names or sounds of the letters in French or any other language. Doing so will be considered an error.
  • Repeat the word to make sure that you have heard it accurately.
  • Rehearse the word in your mind before you begin spelling.
  • Once you say a letter you are not allowed to take it back, even if you have not finished the word and know it is wrong.
  • When you’ve finished spelling the word, repeat it. That way the judges know you are finished.
  • Take your time.
  • Asking questions is a good stalling tactic if you need more time to think about the spelling.
  • If you spell your word correctly, be humble about it.
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What teachers can do to help learners compete well

There are a few things you can do to help your pupils prepare for the Kenya National Spelling Bee Championship besides what you do in the classroom every day:

  • Encourage your pupils to read for pleasure.
  • Require pupils to use the English alphabet. In the championship, use of the names or sounds of letters in French or other languages will be counted as an error.
  • Discourage pupils from spelling using the expression “double p” (or l, or any other letter). In the championship, students must spell each letter.
  • Create a Spelling Bee Club where not only class 4 to class 8 learners but the whole school can be meeting regularly to read and share books and conduct mock spelling bee competitions.
  • Encourage pupils to form study groups where they drill each other using word lists or flashcards or play word games like Scrabble.
  • Hold a mock spelling bee a few days or weeks before the school spelling bee. Doing something once removes a lot of the fear people have of new experiences. The mock spelling bee should be as much like the real thing as possible.
  • Encourage all learners to participate. The experience, even if they don’t go far, will help them do better in the future. It will give them a goal to aspire to, as well as provide the chance for them to meet like-minded learners from other schools and towns.

Benefits of learning to spell correctly

As students get older and progress through various stages in life, they will have to write reports and papers. Not only is the ability to spell necessary in most occupations, but a person also needs to be able to spell well in order to be able to communicate, take notes and directions.
English is the language of international education-in diplomacy, external trade, civil aviation etc. Therefore, not only do Kenyan’s need English to communicate with people of other nations (international interaction), they also need it to communicate with other fellows Kenyans (national interaction).

The long-term benefits of the program will among others include:
1) Reading Culture in Kenya
2) Improved Reading Skills
3) Improved Communication Skills
4) Improved Expression of Complex Ideas Effectively
5) Positive Impression
6) Lasting Memories
7) Successful Professionals

What learners stand to win

National Championship reward package

Winning School will receive:

  • A 26 seater bus for the School of the National Champion.

Winning Teacher will receive:

  • Cash prize of 50,000 Kenya Shillings for the Teacher of the Champion.
  • Cash prize of 30,000 Kenya Shillings for the Teacher of the 1st runner up.
  • Cash prize of 20,000 Kenya Shillings for the Teacher of the 2nd runner up.

The National Champions will receive:

  • Cash Prize of 500,000 Kenya Shillings for the National Champion and a laptop.
  • Cash Prize of 300,000 Kenya Shillings for the 1st runner up and a laptop
  • Cash Prize of 200,000 Kenya Shillings for the 2nd runner up and a laptop

County Championships reward package

All the Spellers and their Teachers will receive Spelling Bee Certificates. The top 3 Champions and their Teachers will receive gift hampers among other prizes such as new School Uniforms for the Spellers during the Spelling Bee TV Show.


A. All Learners in Public or Private Primary Schools in Kenya can register to participate in the Spelling Bee Championship.
B. The 2019 Kenya National Spelling Bee Championship is open to Learners in classes 4, 5, 6,7 and 8 only.
C. To register for the 2019 Spelling Bee Championship, pupils have to individually register
online via, dialing *384*228# on Safaricom or *283*228# on Airtel or by sending an SMS with the word “REGISTER” to 21228.
D. Learners may only compete for one School and County at a time.
E. The Kenya National Spelling Bee may disqualify prior to or during the championship any
speller who is not in compliance with any of the above Admissibility Requirements.
F. KNSB Officials may—at any time before the conclusion of the Kenya National Spelling Bee
Championship — require any speller who is found to have not been in compliance with any of the Admissibility Requirements to forfeit any prizes, rank, and other benefits accorded to the speller as a result of participation in the Kenya National Spelling Bee Championship.

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Official Dictionary
The Oxford Advanced Learners English Dictionary is the official dictionary of the
championship. All words used in the championship can be found in the said dictionary.
The dictionary will be the final word on any disputes involving spelling. In cases where
American and British spelling differs, spellers shall use British English.
Homonyms: If a word has a homonym, the pronouncer will note that and provide the
definition of the desired word when he or she gives the word. If the pronouncer fails to
do that, and the speller provides the correct spelling of any of the homonyms, it will be
considered correct.

A speller qualifying for the Kenya National Spelling Bee must meet these requirements;
A. The speller must attend a School that is registered with the Ministry of Science, Education and Technology in Kenya.
B. The speller must not have repeated any grade for the purpose of extending spelling bee
admissibility. If the speller has repeated any grade, the speller must notify the Kenya National Spelling Bee of the circumstances of grade repetition and the Kenya National Spelling Bee will, in its sole discretion, determine the speller’s eligibility status.
C. The speller–or the speller’s parent, legal guardian, or school official acting on the speller’s behalf–must not have declared to another entity an academic classification higher than grade four, five, six, seven or eight for any purpose.
D. The speller must not have earned the legal equivalent of a high school certificate or
university diploma/degree for participants representing primary schools.
E. The speller must not shun normal school activity to study for the spelling bee championship.
F. Once having been disqualified at any level of a spelling bee championship, the speller
remains disqualified for the Kenya National Spelling Bee Championship for the entire year.
G. The speller must not have any first, second or third degree relatives who are current
employees of the Kenya National Spelling Bee.
H. Preliminary Rounds will be held in each participating School, using words from the Upper
Primary syllabus, KNSB qualifier tests and the listed rules and regulations.
I. Spellers must pronounce the letters as used in the English alphabet, not the sound of the
letters or the names of the letters in French or any other language that uses the Roman alphabet.

An official of KNSB will read the below rules aloud before the beginning of each
Championship unless those present agree unanimously to waive the reading of the rules. Rules 26 to 30 will apply when Speller’s have tied in the top 3 positions.
I. The Pronouncer, Judge(s) and other officials of KNSB will be in complete charge of the
championships. The official(s) decisions will be final in all matters.
II. Any questions or protests about the spelling(s) or pronunciation of a word must be
referred to the officials immediately a round has been completed (before the beginning
of the next round).
III. No Protest will be entertained after the championship has ended.
Below are the guiding conditions for the Spelling Bee Championships;
1. For each championship there will be an arbiter, (one of the 3 judges) whose duty is to hear any protests as they arise and decide on them before the Championship continues.
2. All the words that will be used in the Championship will be chosen from the upper primary syllabus books, oxford dictionary and word lists compiled by KNSB officials.
3. Spellers may not receive help of any sort from other spellers or members of the audience. If that occurs, the speller(s) will be disqualified.
4. The championship will be oral; contestants must spell the words orally and the use of pens and/or pencils and paper will not be allowed, except in special cases.
5. There will be 4 rounds and 11 words in total during the Spelling Bee Championship.
6. In each round, spellers receive one word to spell at a time. If they spell it correctly, they
continue to the next word. If incorrectly, they are eliminated, and must leave the stage except on the warm up round where there will be no elimination on the first word given.
7. Round 1 shall have 2 words. The first word in round one shall be a warm up word and
participants shall not be eliminated even if they spell the given word wrongly.

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8. The 2nd word in round one shall be an elimination word and should the speller get it wrong they shall be eliminated from the competition.
9. There shall be 2 words in round two, 3 words in round 3 and 4 words in round 4.
10. Round 4 shall be the final and sudden death round and all words in this round shall be
outside the usual word lists, these words will be picked by KNSB from a wide range of
textbooks within the grade 4 to 8 syllabus and the oxford dictionary.
11. Each word shall be spelled within 20 seconds.
12. Contestants may pronounce their words before spelling them, after spelling them, or not at all.
13. For all words with capitals, the speller must indicate the Capital Letter. For example,
Mombasa the speller must say “Capital M–o–m–b–a–s–a.”
14. Spellers must spell each letter. They may not use “double _” or any other shorthand in
their spelling. For example, ‘book’ must be spelled as “b–o–o–k, not b–double o–k.”
15. Once a contestant has begun to spell a word, he or she may not ask for a word to be repronounced, defined or used in a sentence.
16. Also, having started to spell a word, a contestant will not be given any opportunity to
change letters already pronounced. A speller may retrace provided that letters and their
sequence are not changed in retracing.
17. Apostrophes and other punctuations are required where necessary for example o’clock must be spelled as “o–apostrophe–c–l–o–c–k.”
18. If a word is unclear to a contestant, he or she may ask for the word to be re-pronounced, defined or used in a sentence, unless the word is a homophone in which case the Pronouncer must give the definition and an example sentence without being asked.
19. The contestant must give the spelling of the word as defined, not a homophone of the word.

20. The Pronouncer will grant the request(s) to repeat a word, definition and example in a
sentence until the officials agree that the word has been made reasonably clear to the contestant.
21. Officials may disqualify any contestant who ignores a request to start spelling his or her
word within a reasonable length of time. Also, a speller whose spelling of a word is not audible to the officials may have his or her spelling ruled incorrect.
22. Upon successful registration, Spellers will be assigned numbers at random to determine the order of spelling during competitions.
23. In each round, the speller must be present when his or her number is up. Failure to be
present will be considered a misspelling.
24. When it is their turn, spellers should approach the microphone and face the judges.
25. The championship continues until there are only 3 top spellers left, and they are the
Note: Rules 26 onwards are for the tie-breaker rounds only.
26. If there are spellers tied for the top positions, the judges will hold additional rounds among those spellers to determine the order of finish. Additional rounds will be held for each of the positions where there is a tie.
27. Spellers who have tied for a particular position will be given the same word to spell, one after the other, and the Judges will give them the correct spelling only after each speller has finished spelling.
28. If all the Spellers misspell the same word, then all the contestants will remain in the
Championship until only one Speller spells the word correctly.
29. If all the Spellers get the same word correct, then all the contestants will remain in the
Championship until only one Speller spells the word correctly and the others spell it wrongly.
30. This will go on until ONLY one contestant Spells the word correctly and they will be
declared the Champion.

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