Queen Bee Vilandra Maitimu did it again

One of the highlights of our Year of Literacy was the introduction of the first Bahasa Basudara Spelling Bee Contest. This Spelling Bee with a twist was aimed at students between the ages of 12 and 17.  Last April, twenty spellers (a mix of Bahasa Basudara and independent Moluccan students) competed for a place in the final. Two months ago, in October, another 20 entered and vied to get a place in the top three so they would automatically go to the Grand Final in December.   

The Grand Final

The Bahasa Basudara Spelling Bee Contest 2021 came to a buzzing conclusion when the last two contestants Vilandra Maitimu and Ivana Lopulalan (who also finished first in the April and October contests respectively) had to compete against each other in the final rounds. The other three finalists Nadlif Pelu, Fyolitha Wakanno and Naifa Silawane did their best, but unfortunately didn’t make it past the first round. However, as  Naifa had spelt more words correctly, she took home the third prize.

Ivana excelled at being the fastest overall speller, but Vilandra (the youngest finalist at 12) kept her nerve in the last round, managed to spell all her ten words correctly, and was crowned the first-ever Bahasa Basudara Spelling Bee winner. All finalists have already received their Spelling Bee Grand Final Certificate, whilst the first three also received a trophy and a voucher. 

Everyone is a winner

Even though Vilandra became the ultimate winner, we still want to stress that in our eyes every single participant was a winner. It took courage to enter a contest like this and to compete in another language, let alone spell words you probably have never heard of before.   

The Queen Bee

So who is the first winner of the Spelling Bee and how does she feel now that she has become the first-ever Bahasa Basudara Spelling Bee winner? “It felt amazing,” she said enthusiastically. “I was REALLY nervous and excited before the competition, I didn’t care if I would win or lose, in my mind I was already happy that I could be part of this contest. I am actually very competitive when I am with my friends, but I am the opposite with new people.” 

The importance of subtitles

Some tutors tell their students that in order to learn a language properly, they should watch English language programmes with subtitles, so they pick up new words and listen to the intonation and pronunciation. Vilandra is the perfect example as she has been exposed to English language programmes from a very young age. When she was three, she loved the Hello Kitty show on one of the many Indovision channels. Vilandra said: “I thought the kitten was so adorable, but I can’t remember if the characters were speaking English or Indonesian, or whether the programme was subtitled in English or Indonesian. My mother told me that I started watching a lot of other shows with subtitles and that one day I started repeating some words in English and that I also understood the meaning of the words.”

It’s only words

She continues: “My mother eventually got in touch with a friend of hers, to check whether the words I was saying were correct.  This friend then advised my mother to sign me up for English classes, so I could learn how to read and write as well. After several years of studying English and watching English language programmes, I can now speak, read and write it fairly competently. I just like using simple words so people can understand what I'm saying.” 


So was she nervous before the final? “While I was waiting in the breakout room, I decided to read the articles again, so that my mind would remember it all more clearly. I understood the articles and tried to focus on the difficult words, so I probably didn’t have time to get really nervous about it. Although there was one word in the Bee article Ovipositor, that my brain just kept forgetting and I was convinced that the pronouncer wanted me to spell this word. After each round, I was silently screaming out the word O-V-I-P-O-S-I-T-O-R and made myself nervous because I was anticipating for that word to come. It wasn’t even mentioned."

Tips for future spellers

According to Vilandra, the best way to practise is to read lots of articles. "If you don’t like reading, then maybe listen to English songs or watch English language videos. Pick out the words you don’t know and try to spell them. Don’t overthink it too much because you’ll only make yourself nervous and unsure how to spell the word correctly," she said. 

Spelling Bee 2022

We can honestly say that the 2021 Spelling Bee contest has been a great success and previous contestants and new students are already lining up to sign up for the next round in April 2022. We will let you know when we open the registration for this contest.