Language Matters: The Future of Spelling Bees

Have you ever participated in a spelling bee?

They are common in elementary schools in the United States, and almost nonexistent in many other countries.  In a spelling bee, children attempt to spell words of increasing difficulty.  When they misspell a word, they are disqualified.  The last child to spell a correct word is the winner.

"Not only do I have to spell 'sepulcher,' I also have to tell you what it means? It's tough to be a kid these days..."

Spelling bees are popular in the US because English is full of so many notoriously difficult words to spell.  Countries with languages where the spelling of words match the pronunciation would not have as much need for spelling bees.

Soon, however, spelling bees in the US are going to change.

The National Spelling Bee has announced that participants must now know the definition of a word as well as how to spell it.  This means that the spelling bee will be more of a vocabulary bee, helping kids to increase their knowledge of English language along with English spelling.

I think this is a great idea.  After all, what’s the point of being able to spell ‘vitriol‘ if you could never actually use the word in your speech or writing?

What do you think?  Would you like to participate in a ‘vocabulary bee’?

One thought on “Language Matters: The Future of Spelling Bees

  1. Yeah, I think its a good idea! It gives spellers more knowledge and lets them really understand what they’re studying! I did spelling bees, since I was in 3rd grade, and have just participated, last March, in my last regional spelling bee. I say its my last because I’m in eighth grade. And, if you didn’t know, the National Spelling Bee, stops the competition at eighth grade. I got 2nd place. It was a heart breaker. I wanted to turn my loss into something positive, so I started a petition to the National Spelling Bee to let ninth graders compete! I need 20,000 signatures, but the more the better! You can sign it here: Every signature helps, and it only takes a minute to sign. Please take the time to sign it, because I know I’m not the only speller that thinks this should happen. Thank you so much!

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