Talk:Spelling bee

Page contents not supported in other languages.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


For the record the link National Spelling Bee was by far the most ridiculous redirect series. 05:00, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Criticism of spelling contests[edit]

This article should address (with NPOV) the obvious pedagogical criticisms of the form, viz., that it promotes the most egregious sort of rote learning and bizarre study habits. Students bury their heads in dictionaries for hours to prepare to regurgitate sequences of letters upon cue. Notwithstanding that it is important (and necessary) to memorize the spelling of words we use on a regular basis, the state-wide and national spelling bees inevitably become an exercise in esoterica. Contestants are expected to spell words most of us have never seen before or will ever come across again in our lifetime. Consider that educational psychologists estimate we forget up to 70% of unused information we learned in school, over time. Anyone who has studied a foreign language and allowed their proficiency to lapse can appreciate this. We don't need to memorize the spelling of every word in the English language; this is why we keep reference books at hand. (For that matter, Google will correct a close misspelling.)

The other issue is that this 'American' Spelling Bee uses very few truly 'American' words--of the final words in the championship round, none were 'American'; most were foreign language, and of that, those were of rare or hardly used in this country origin.

The essence of a modern education is knowing how to access and utilize reference sources not memorizing arcane facts. We live in the Information Age and we are cultivating learning habits reminiscent of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. soverman 13 June 2005

I just think it shows how broken the English language is, to the point where you have competitions to see if anyone can spell; and out of the best spellers, nobody actually can spell. The English language needs fixing!WolfKeeper 16:29, 3 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]
This article could use criticisms—actually, it could use discussions of the educational value of the bees in general, from all sides. Mindspillage (spill yours?) 17:31, 2 July 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Pardon my French, but -- God! -- that's a retarded concept. I first became aware of the existence of such contests through American movies and tv shows referencing them, but didn't think they'd be this established. They do seem to be absolutely worthless considering how American "spellers" perform in comparison to non-Americans (in their respective languages). Also, colloquial American isn't exactly full of particularily complex words and these contests seem to be mostly about scientific terms or rather antiquated/rare phrases.

I can't believe there is no reference to any discussion or criticism of this whole sham. — Ashmodai (talk · contribs) 01:48, 3 July 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Your assertion that "...colloquial American isn't exactly full of particularily complex words..." loses a bit of steam when you misspell the word "particularly." Petershank 05:05, 27 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Just added a few lines regarding common criticism of Spelling Bees. The main reason why it survived, IMHO, is that it is easy to stage such an event and attach right or wrong to the answer. Other contests that focus more on vocabulary often have problems with questions and answers being more subject to dispute. I'm assuming the amount of effort involved in staging such events has caused the demise of Win With Words and National Word Power Challenge. Let's hope Word Cup survives, I took part last year and it was fun.

I think contests that get students fired up are great, it creates a culture of "smart is cool." However, the level of obsession that surrounds the NSB is clearly ridiculous. There are hundreds of kids out there who study weird words for hours a day, for years in a row, for the dream of holding the trophy into the cameras. What a waste of brain power!

Slight change made[edit]

I changed the intro sentence from "North American competition" to just "competition" and then made the note that it originated in the US and has since spread to elsewhere in the English-speaking world. I did this for two reasons. First,and most importantly, the competition has spread beyond North America, as the article itself notes. It's held everywhere from the Pacific Islands to New Zealand.Yes, the winners of these regions still travel to Washington, apparently, but obviously they need to hold local qualifying rounds somewhere in the home country, right? Second, all articles on these sorts of practices should note the country of origin, and, in this case, it's originally an American competition that has spread throughout North America and beyond. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:07, 24 November, 2005 (UTC)

What is the connection between the English languages (alleged) complexity, and spelling bees being perceived as purely American?

04:19, 28 August 2008 (UTC)


How is the current monetary value of the prize?Patchouli 05:26, 13 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Which spelling bee are you referring to? The monetary prize of the Scripps National Spelling Bee (U.S.) is described on that page. Vernon 13:48, 28 May 2006 (UTC)[reply]


Given the increasing popularity of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, including its now primetime network exposure on American television, many people will come to this page looking for information more specific about the event they are watching on television. Vernon 13:48, 28 May 2006 (UTC)[reply]

From the article.[edit]

This comment was in <!--- --->s but I have moved it here in other to reply to it. "really? are there no spelling bees in languages other than English? I'd like to see a cite... or a counterexample."

This sort of thing is near impossible to cite. It's just not something anything is likely to mention. Besides, the text does not say only anywhere, so it doesn't even need a cite. If other languages can be found to have spelling bees, then they can be incorperated into the article. I doubt a spelling bee would be very interesting in many languages though. English is a bit unaturally inconsistant with how our letters are pronouced. Most languages are spelt exactly how they sound. --SeizureDog 21:03, 22 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]
I have know Spanish Spelling Bee from the internet, one of the spelling bee other than English.  tatasport  talk with me here 07:57, 3 January 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Non-English spelling bees?[edit]

Hmm, I tend to disagree. Polish language for instance is full of words which can be written in variery of ways, yet they sound the same (or almost the same). Children in primary schools often write dictations and dictation contents are held. Yet I haven't so far seen anyone holding spelling bee contest -- and yes, the spelling bee seems alien to me. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:38, 7 February 2007 (UTC). 21:39, 7 February 2007 (UTC) Dawid Kuroczko[reply]

French as well has this issue, although again, probably there is not a French spelling bee. Other English speaking countries even find the spelling bee alien, and most languages would find a spelling bee impossible to execute, as the words tend to be spelled in a more uniform manner.

Slate article on this subject (that I'm sure has been brought up by others but deleted as it became redundant) Article is here. 14:20, 1 June 2007 (UTC)[reply]

French has very convoluted rules that try to conserve the historical Old French look (e.g. et, italian dropped the t in the spelling too, then all the silent vowels that were dropped from Latin words in French, but stayed in the spelling), but it is mostly consistent in my experience and according to wikipedia too, so a spelling bee wouldn't make much sense. --Formagella (talk) 23:40, 6 February 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Chinese Analogue: Chinese Characters Dictation Competition[edit]

In spite of the name "Spelling Bee", English words are not quite "spelt" out; instead, different pronunciations are forced upon various combinations of letters, and the number of such combinations is so large that English words can hardly be considered "spelt out". And this is the very reason that Chinese characters are not considered "spelt" out. The truth, however, is that after learning a small number of Chinese characters, you can actually "spell" out the pronunciations and deduce the meanings of other characters you have never seen before. The only difference is that you need a bit more effort to acquire such ability with regard to Chinese characters than with English words.

In any case, there had been Chinese Characters Dictation Competition sponsored by CCTV from 2013 to 2015 at which contestants, normally high-schoolers, write characters upon hearing them pronounced and explained.

Since its inception, millions of high-schoolers have engaged in memorizing big tomes of dictionaries whose 97% of characters have fallen to disuse eons ago. A considerable number of Sinologists in China in recent years have been promoting the idea that anything that is ancient, or written in ancient books, is great and invaluable, regardless of what it is. Parallel to this competition are competitions of poetry memory, idiom/phrase memory, etc., for which aspiring contestants bury themselves in anthologies of Tang/Song poems amounting to hundreds of thousands of lines.

Strong criticisms have produced some effect. The Chinese Characters Dictation Competition has not been heard since 2016.

Events like these, if held once in a while, might be interesting to watch. If they become established, regular events, held annually, or semiannually, they indeed promote little more than rote memory. --Roland (talk) 23:40, 29 December 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Worldwide view?[edit]

I observe the "worldwide view" tag, but what's wrong with a primarily US view of a US concept that doesn't seem to be practised elsewhere in the world? I work on lots of little Ohio township articles, and I don't see how they need to have any worldwide bits other than noting that they're in the United States. Nyttend 23:36, 2 June 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I am a British man teaching English to children in Taiwan. My school is going to have a spelling competiton soon. I came to this page expecting to find the rules for a spelling bee. How is a contestant eliminated? How is it decided who wins? I didn't find that. This article shouldn't just be written for Americans who know what a spelling bee is already, it should explain it to all the rest of us who've never expeienced a spelling bee ourselves. I'm going to look at the Simple English version now. Maybe that can help me better.Simon Peter Hughes (talk) 00:25, 22 March 2008 (UTC)Simon Peter HughesSimon Peter Hughes[reply]

What I wrote in March 2008 is still true. Unfortunately the Simple English Wikipedia was no help either and nor was Conservapedia. Spelling bees are an American phenomenon, this is an encyclopedia for divulging information to people all over the world. This article still doesn't adequately explain what a spelling bee is to someone who has never experienced one.Simon Peter Hughes (talk) 13:35, 14 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Origin of the word? (Bees are insects?)[edit]

I'd like a short explanation of the word "spelling bee". To me, a bee is an insect, thus making the word sound really strange. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:30, 29 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Jessica Simpson, Spelling Bee Champion[edit]

I found the line about Ms. Simpson's spelling prowess doubtful, but I'm willing to believe anything. However, I couldn't find any references to it outside of the article itself, so it sounds like a 'Mr Rogers was a sniper' non-fact. I removed the line in accordance with the Biography of Living Persons policy.Bppubjr (talk) 15:48, 14 January 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Section one[edit]

Hello, I'm new at this. I thought it might be of interest that the Micropedia Britannica (v.IX, p.412; 1975) states, "The spelling bee is an old custom that was revived in schools in the Unite States in the late 19th century and enjoyed a great vogue there and in Great Britain. In the U.S., spelling competitions continue to be held annually on local, regional, and national levels." I'm not sure if Great Britain still hold spelling bees, but apparently they did at one time. (talk) 03:52, 30 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]


Spelling bees in popular culture and the following Fictional works sections are filled with trivia that don't belong in an encyclopedia. Imagine Reason (talk) 19:15, 30 May 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Spelling Bees popular in the USA because English has especially complex orthography?[edit]

I think this is untrue and post-hoc reasoning. If it were true then Spelling Bees would be equally popular in the UK and Eire. I suggest removing this statement, but would be interested in hearing your opinion. Maikel (talk) 15:09, 8 June 2008 (UTC)[reply]

I agree. The US isn't the only English-speaking country in the world. Neither is English spelling *especially* crazy; French and (to a lesser extent) German come to mind. On a related note, there are examples of similar dictation exercises in the world, see e.g. Bernard_Pivot#Spelling_championships. Note the careful wording in the article, though: "and is usually perceived to be a solely American practice." Perceived. <rant> Fair enough, given the usual (in America) ignorance about the rest of the world. </rant> -- (talk) 01:22, 12 June 2008 (UTC)[reply]
The above doesn't know what he's talking about; both German and French have 100% regular spelling patterns. German rules are both 100% regular and extraordinarily simple. French rules are 100% regular and a little complex, especially if you learn them later in life/aren't the type to care about orthography. Nonetheless, an early-life-literate native speaker of either language can always look at a word new to him and know exactly how to pronounce it, even if he couldn't muster up the rules to know how to spell it if he instead hears it for the first time (although it's far easier in either language than it is in English to go from hearing to writing). Of those three languages, only English has words that you can look at, know the language's general, basic patterns, and not know how to pronounce. There may be European languages whose written orthographies don't translate to 100% consistent pronunciations, small colloquial elisions or strong regional accents aside, but French and German are not among them.

"...could be that English has an exceptionally complex and arbitrary orthography." It is the word "exceptionally" which makes this speculation ridiculous (and indeed seemingly ignorant). There of course are languages with an almost one-to-one correspondence of pronounciation and spelling, but there also are others, some of them already mentioned, where this is the case even less than in English. And I very much doubt that the Unicode Consortium is a good source to judge on this question. Besides, it's not the orthography that is arbitrary, anyway. Well, since there seems to be a consensus here, I'll eliminate that from the article.

Spelling bees have a long time ago become a U.S. tradition and a kind of sport. That is the reason why they are continued and have even spread to some extent to other english-speaking countries. But this is regardless of their pedagogic value. You don't read or write letter-wise, but word-wise, at least if you can read and write (also see section "Criticism" above). Therefore in most other countries obviously nobody sees any such value that reaches or even goes beyond that of dictations. -- (talk) 09:55, 3 October 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Dutch orthography is generally rather regular, however the Dutch do partake in something called het Groot Dictee der Nederlandse Taal, where people try their best at spelling convoluted sentences with lots of irregular foreign loanwords and such.
I disagree with the "Could it be that..." talk guy here. You read words you recognize word by word, sure, but the point of a spelling bee (in English) is that many words, when heard, aren't "spelled word by word." They're spelled letter by letter, as demonstrated by all the kids who flop out of spelling bees. Many of the world's other most prominent languages (Spanish in particular, Chinese pinyin Romanization, German/Dutch and I -think- most Germanic languages and French, although French's rules are certainly obnoxiously complicated) can go the other way: in no language do you read familiar seen words by letter, but by recognition, but in all languages do you decode heard words into letters by patterns you've learned. In English, unlike in any of the languages mentioned above, many different orthographies can represent exactly the same sound, and that one orthography can represent many different sounds. This isn't a bad thing, as such, but it is a -thing.- Other major world languages are mostly absent of this flaw--if they approach it, they often use diacritics (Mandarin expressed in pinyin, Spanish, to some extent French, if-you-count-umlauts-and-you-probably-should German) to obviate it. Much of English's obnoxiousness in this respect could be undone if we, like Spanish, has a syllable that was always stressed based on the length of the word/whether it ended in a vowel, and if that always-stressed was broken by an irregular word, we marked the stressed syllable with a diacritic. Some of my most fluent nonnative English speaking friends still throw the stress on the wrong syllable when speaking English aloud, because we have no pattern for that (and unlike in French it's critically important).


Quote: The Internet is now home to a virtual version of the Spelling Bee, launched in September of 2007. The Word Cup is an annual global vocabulary challenge for all ages. Hosted by eSpindle Learning, the event is quizzing both vocabulary and spelling skills in a time-restricted environment. All three rounds of the competition take place online, with increasing levels of supervision. Over $75,000 prizes wait for the top contestants in each of four age categories, as well as participants of varying proficiency levels. Future events will reward those who show the largest improvement, making this an event where everyone has a chance to win.
I have removed this segment as I consider it not encyclopedic but an advertisement. Correct me if I'm wrong. Maikel (talk) 18:22, 8 June 2008 (UTC) I think the event is legitimate, and the format is such that this could be a smarter alternative to the Spelling Bee. I took part last year, and it was fun. I entered another reference, along with a reference to common criticism of the Spelling Bee. It is mentioned along with other recent alternative vocabulary/spellig competitions. It should get its own page, if someone finds the time. since we're talking advertisement - I did remove a long rant about Hexco, though, who was promoting his entire catalog of products in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hattiebronny (talkcontribs) 17:00, 16 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Just asking[edit]

Who knows the winner of AARP National Spelling Bee from 1996 until 2010? And who knows the winning word? I'm just asking because I just found the winner from 2005 - 2010 (to create the article in here). Thanks before.  tatasport  talk with me here 03:30, 29 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]


The current version of the article, mentions things like the existance of national competitions in countries like the UK but IMHO doesn't really emphasise the fact that in most English speaking countries outside the US (and Canada?) spelling bees aren't really a significant cultural phenomenon particular not in the way they are in the US and indeed are often perceived (as sometimes emphasised in the talk page) as a funny American thing. Finding sources for this may not be easy but I'm sure some must exist (I know when NZ newspapers talk about spelling bees they often discuss it as an American thing). Nil Einne (talk) 20:08, 3 June 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Spelling "Bee" word origin[edit]

Besides the insect, a bee can also be a community social gathering in order to perform some task, or engage in a contest.


The layout of this article seems to be somewhat US-centric, with one section on "other countries" and everything else about spelling bees in the US. Simply cramming all the US stuff into one section on the country list seems impractical -- perhaps the large amount of US-specific stuff should be split off into a separate article on spelling bees in the US, with just a small section in the country list here that links to there? --Aquillion (talk) 19:15, 29 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]


I was thinking that the article could maybe use a short section titled "Procedure" or something, that says that ordinarily the people in the bee take turns spelling words in rounds of increasing difficulty, and that it is usually single elimination but could be double, or something. I'm not a spelling bee expert, I could have the rules wrong; but the article doesn't really explain in sufficient detail what a spelling bee is to be able to get an idea if you didn't already know. AgnosticAphid talk 20:50, 30 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]


This section needs to be renamed. Neither Africa nor Asia are countries. 22:08, 6 November 2013 (UTC)~ — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to one external link on Spelling bee. Please take a moment to review my edit. If necessary, add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true to let others know.

checkY An editor has reviewed this edit and fixed any errors that were found.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

Cheers. —cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 13:48, 17 October 2015 (UTC)[reply]

"In popular culture" section: a bit excessive?[edit]

46 items?!?! I'd think 2 or 3 would be sufficient, but I don't want to choose which they should be. Is an "In popular culture" section needed at all? Akhooha (talk) 00:55, 11 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]

The more I think about it, I think the whole section should be deleted. If there are no objections, I'll do that. Thanks for your attention. Akhooha (talk) 22:20, 12 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]
As no objections have been raised, I've deleted that section. If you feel strongly about restoring it, either partially or totally, please do so. Thank you. Akhooha (talk) 18:49, 13 October 2016 (UTC)[reply]

"Spelling B"[edit]

I've cut the dubious "also sometimes a Spelling B" alternate spelling from the lede - this is sourced to a Google Ngrams search which shows that the phrase "spelling b" exists in Google's corpus, but an actual Google Books search for the phrase just turns up a lot of "(a) Spelling (b) Handwriting" type fragments. --McGeddon (talk) 15:13, 17 November 2016 (UTC)[reply]

"In other regions, countries and communities"[edit]

In a region, country, or community where something other than English is the official language, it should be noted what the concerned language is in the "spelling bee". For instance, are Nepali words being spelt in Nepali letters in the Spelling Bees held in Nepal? --Roland (talk) 22:41, 30 December 2017 (UTC)[reply]

External links modified (February 2018)[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 2 external links on Spelling bee. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

This message was posted before February 2018. After February 2018, "External links modified" talk page sections are no longer generated or monitored by InternetArchiveBot. No special action is required regarding these talk page notices, other than regular verification using the archive tool instructions below. Editors have permission to delete these "External links modified" talk page sections if they want to de-clutter talk pages, but see the RfC before doing mass systematic removals. This message is updated dynamically through the template {{source check}} (last update: 18 January 2022).

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 01:40, 6 February 2018 (UTC)[reply]

1800s or nineteenth century?[edit]

The history section starts "Spelling bees became widespread across the United States during the 1800s". To me, that means the period 1800-1809, but I think it's possible that the writer means 1800-1899. I'm not sure which is right, so haven't edited, but I think it would be a good idea to remove the ambiguity. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:12, 29 April 2020 (UTC)[reply]

No Indonesia?[edit]

Where is the indonesia name section on this article "Spelling Bee", despite having such competition avaiable in this country.2404:8000:1027:85F6:2475:7427:6078:D42A (talk) 08:49, 25 March 2023 (UTC)[reply]