Primary Ivrit - Final National Modern Hebrew Spelling Bee

PaJeS was delighted to host the Final of the National Modern Hebrew Spelling Bee on Tuesday 25th June with a record 58 pupils from years 5 and 6 from nine Jewish primary schools from all over the country taking part. Students came from Liverpool and Manchester to take part in this prestigious competition hoping for the chance to be crowned a winner and champion Hebrew speller.

The Routes into Languages Spelling Bee competition for foreign languages has been going for 10 years. The competition is run in partnership with Sarah Schechter who is the director of Routes into Languages East. The Spelling Bee was awarded a European Language Label in 2011 and was highly commended by the Chartered Institute of Linguists in 2016.

The 10-year experience of Routes into Languages East combined with the insights of PaJeS into the needs of the teachers and students for an Ivrit spelling competition has proved very popular. Now in its third year, the primary Ivrit Spelling Bee has seen a large increase in the number of pupils taking part with 14 in its first year and 58 yesterday. It has become a popular family event with parents, siblings and grandparents attending the event to cheer their family member on.  We predict that the competition will be even bigger next year and will mean finding a new venue to hold this exciting annual event.

This year the competition was split into 4 categories: first time entrants, returners from last year, Ivrit speakers who have been living in this country for five years or more and Ivrit speakers who moved to the UK in the last year. Contestants had ONE MINUTE to translate and correctly spell as many words as possible in Ivrit.

This is how it worked:

  • Students were given words to learn at the first stage of the competition and a further list of words are added for stage 2 (Vocabulary is relevant to the curriculum). They were tested on all the vocabulary at the National Final.

At the National Finals the primary competitors were tested on a total of 120 words. The Ivrit speakers were tested on a different 120-word list.

  • Time was spent in the first few lessons of the year consolidating and practising the alephbet (if necessary) to ensure that all students have a secure knowledge of the letters and their correct corresponding sounds.
  • Different to a monolingual Spelling Bee, students are given the word in English, they first have to translate it into Hebrew and then spell it out correctly using the alephbet
  • When participating, students will be given one minute to correctly spell as many words as possible.
  • Pronunciation must be accurate and spelling clearly enunciated.
  • When spelling the words students do not need to spell out the vowels etc as they will be indicating their knowledge of them by correctly pronouncing the words.

Mrs. Dalia Wittenberg, PaJeS Primary Ivrit Advisory Teacher, congratulated all the participants and wished them a big Mazal Tov for achieving this stage of becoming the finalists for this competition. She said “This in itself is a great achievement. For us, you are all already winners. You being here, is a clear indication of your amazing commitment, determination and self-discipline!” Mrs Wittenberg went on to say that the pupils teachers had told her that some of the students gave up lunch break time, twice a week, to practise the words! She also thanked the teachers for their dedication to the project which had been amazing and told how they had been in touch with her on a regular basis, trying to make the experience enjoyable and fun. Finally Mrs Wittenberg said to the pupils, “I know that you have been working very hard for the last few months practicing spelling of 120 words but I also hope that this has been an enjoyable learning experience and I am sure it helped not only your spelling but your memory skills, vocabulary and pronunciation.”

The winners of the competition were as follows:

Newcomer Finals

  1. Noa Pell – Immanuel College
  2. Isaac Ros – Simon Marks Jewish Primary School
  3. Gabi Willman – Nancy Reuben Primary School
  4. Maytal Field – Nancy Reuben Primary School

Returners from last year Finals 

  1. Rebekah-Jo Goldman – King David Primary School, Manchester
  2. Avi Gardner – King David Primary School, Manchester
  3. Zac Simmons – Nancy Reuben Primary School
  4. Natasha Britstone – King David Primary School, Manchester

Hebrew Speakers Finals (who have lived in the UK for five years or more) –

  1. Choshen Galon – Nancy Reuben Primary School
  2. Yarden Solomon – King David Primary School, Liverpool
  3. Tamar Zabary – Eden Primary School
  4. Agam Solomon – King David Primary School, Liverpool

Hebrew Speakers (who moved to the UK in the last year) Finals –

  1. Yehudit Greenhaus – Broughton Jewish Cassel Fox Primary School
  2. Noyah Cohen – Simon Marks Jewish Primary School
  3. Maya David – Simon Marks Jewish Primary School
  4. Yuval Rosenbaum – Eden Primary School