Beijing girl advances in US bee
Updated: 2013-05-31 07:26
11-year-old makes it to semifinals of nation's top spelling competition
Forty-two contestants advanced on Wednesday to the semifinals of the top US spelling contest, the first to also ask competitors to know what the words mean.
They were among 281 youngsters from eight nations who gathered at the Gaylord National Resort outside Washington for the three-day Scripps National Spelling Bee, an enduring institution in the United States.
Those who made the cut included New York's Arvind Mahankali, 13, a four-time contestant who placed third last year and in 2011, and 11-year-old Wang Taoran, or Katharine Wang, from the Beijing Fangcaodi International School.
Wang is one of only two Chinese students who were selected to go the US to fight for the top prize.
Her winning word in the qualifying contest was "subaqueous", which means found or occurring underwater.
The other Chinese competitor was a 14-year-old boy, Wang Qingyi, from Beida Resource Middle School in Beijing.
Wang Taoran participated in the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee and also won through to the semi-final round, but did not win a prize.
With a strong interest in foreign languages, the sixth-grader is studying German and French. She also plays piano and listens to music in her spare time.
Lisa Sun, Wang's teacher at the Qooco English Training School, said she is a little quiet, but hard-working.
Sun added the contest can help students become more courageous and confident in facing tough challenges.
"But the competition largely improves the students' interest in studying English."
Stumbling out of the 86th edition of the competition was this year's youngest hopeful, Tara Singh. But the event's official Twitter feed noted that the 8-year-old from Kentucky has "many years ahead" to return to the finals.
Organizers had initially announced 41 semifinalists, but later added eighth-grader Nikitha Chandran from Florida after determining that her spelling for "virucide" - "viruscide" - was an acceptable alternative.