V-O-U-C-H-S-A-F-E. It’s a word author Barrie Trinkle will never forget. It’s the word that put her into the history books.
“I was relieved and happy,” says Trinkle, recalling her victory at the 1973 National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., where as a young teen she correctly spelled “vouchsafe,” which means “to promise; undertake or give.”
Trinkle, who serves on the Scripps National Spelling Bee’s word panel, is now on a mission to help young students around the country become better spellers.
Co-author of “How to Spell Like a Champ” (Workman Publishing, $10.95),
Trinkle will be at Changing Hands Bookstore offering tips to East Valley spellers of all ages.
She says on the whole, Americans aren’t good spellers, and attributes that to the complexity of the English language.
“English is borrowed from a lot of different languages. It’s a hodgepodge,” says Trinkle, who entered her first local spelling bee in Fort Worth, Texas, when she was in fourth grade. The next year, she was competing nationally. By her third attempt, she was a U.S. champ.
For the majority of noncompetitors, spelling can become problematic — especially when trying to do it phonetically.
But as tuff — oops, t-o-u-g-h — as the English language can be, Trinkle says with a good dictionary and plenty of practice, anyone has the potential to become a better speller.
She offers these tips to get started:
P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E: While most children progress at different rates, Trinkle recommends spending at least 20 minutes a day studying words via dictionary or online program, paying special attention to the word roots and what they mean.
R-E-A-D: Reading often, she says, will regularly build new vocabulary. Make sure to look up words that you don’t know.
B-E C-A-L-M: When entering your first bee or taking an exam, “don’t let your brain disengage,” says Trinkle. Stay calm and focused and remember to have fun.
For a list of study resources, go to www.spellingbee.com.
Author Barrie Trinkle will offer spelling tips 4 p.m. Wednesday at Changing Hands Bookstore. 6428 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe. Information: (480) 730-0205.