The U.S. Peace Corps is teaming up with the Ouarzazate chapter of the Moroccan Association of English Teachers to launch a Spelling Bee program in the Ouarzazate Tinghir and Zagora region.The program will begin today with training for high school English teachers in Ouarzazate. Jim Dana, a Peace Corps health volunteer working in Azlag, a village near Kelaat Mgouna, approached MATE and officials at the local delegation of youth and sports about replicating the American contest in which competitors are eliminated as they fail to spell a given word correctly. The program, which began in America in 1925, is now popular in many countries around the world. Some Moroccan students and teachers are familiar with the program because they have seen the famous movie, “Akeela and the Bee,’’ starring Larry Fisburne.Ouarzazate and MATE officials embraced the idea because it’s a creative way to teach English. “It’s a great classroom activity and it will add a little change to the pace of the typical classroom,’’ Dana said. “It’s another way of helping students learn English.’’Abdeslam Elboumeslouhi,
44, has been an English teacher for 18 year. He is working with Dana on the project.”I think spelling Bee project is interesting and entertaining for both students and ELT teachers.” Elboumeslouhi said.” The project seems promising. So we hope we will keep it going for a long term.”Dana, 67, is a former teacher and owner of a bookstore in Grand Haven, Michigan. He owned the store for 17 years and after that, he became an executive director of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association from 1991 to 2010.He decided to join the Peace Corps after going through “some tough times.’’ “It really made me think of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,’’ he said. “And I decided that joining the Peace Corps was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.’’From 2 to 6 p.m. today, English teachers will receive information about the program and how to administer it in their classrooms, participate in a mock Spelling Bee competition, learn the basics of Spelling Bee. They will learn about the Spelling Bee Morocco website and how to register individual and teams as well as recruit schools to participate.Dana and MATE also plan to organize trainings for teachers in Tinghir and Zagora by the end of March. Dana is also applying for a grant from the Peace Corps Partnership Program and Kids to Kids World Connect, an American organization, to help offset cost for implementing the program.After the teachers are trained, they will begin using it in the classroom. Later, they organize a Bee competition in their high schools. Students can compete as a three-member team or as individuals.The top three winners of the local compete in the regional competition which will be held in Ouarzazate on March 20.