Like, I love it so much. I just downloaded the ESPN app solely to watch it. Have I downloaded it to watch sports? No. Spelling? Yes.
"Why, why do you like to watch kids spell super hard words?"
Let me try to explain. First, it's so much more than spelling. It's not just reading the dictionary and memorizing the whole thing (although that couldn't hurt, I suppose). These students understand language of origin, multiple definitions, various pronunciations, and parts of speech. Add the pressure of spelling complex words correctly on a stage in front of the nation, and I'm impressed.
Honestly, it's the language of origin that gets me the most. The words given to each speller are English words, but have any number of places of origin. These include, but I'm sure are not limited to, Greek, Latin, German, and French. Knowing where a word originates helps you understand what combination of phonemes are used to make the word. If you know the word is German, and you hear a 'v' sound, it's most likely going to be spelled with a 'w.'
I love that knowing the spelling of a word is like a puzzle. Clues are given through the part of speech, definition, and pronunciation. Language astounds me. All of these random letters and sounds are put together to make meaning. Then, another random set of letters and sounds are put together to make meaning for someone else on the other side of the world. THEN, our brains just figure out how to make sense of it all based on the language used around us when we're babies. I mean, that's amazing, right?
I'm sure I'm not doing any justice to the intricacies of language and spelling. I just love the way it all comes together and has the power to change the world. I bet you didn't think this post about the spelling bee would end with how it can change the world, did you?
I still remember my 6th grade spelling bee disappointment (it's 'levee' not 'levy') and I quietly quiz myself in an act of redemption when each word is announced on TV. I am in awe of these students who put in countless hours of studying, love language, and can flat out spell words that most of us have never heard. They are impossible not to root for.
Teacher, reader, tea drinker, and dog mom.