2017 NASCC – BRIDGING WORLDS WITH WORDS

  On the weekend of July 15th-16th, 2017, at the University of California – Riverside, a truly unique and international spelling bee took place. Sponsored by Spelling Bee of China (SPBCN), the third annual North America Spelling Champion Challenge (NASCC) drew 107 American and Chinese spellers to engage in healthy competition, make new international friends and connections, and, in the words of the bee’s slogan, enjoy “bridging worlds with words.” The champion would receive a grand prize of $2000 and a trip to Beijing, China, to enjoy sightseeing and compete…

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SUMMER 2017 – TIME TO…SPELL!

Happy summer solstice! Now that the Scripps National Spelling Bee is done, does this mean that bee season is over? Perhaps for some, but not for others. Summer is a great time to indulge in all sorts of literary and word-oriented pursuits. Just as libraries encourage children to use summer as the perfect time to read, bee programs of all sorts are preparing bees for the summer. Both the North South Foundation and the South Asian Spelling Bee are busy holding qualifying bees for their national bees, both of which…

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2017 SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE FINALS

For those lucky enough to stroll into the Maryland Ballroom at the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, an enclave outside of Washington DC, on the evening of June 1st, the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee was truly a spectacle worthy of great memories. And aside from families, spellers, and media reps clad in various shades of casual dress, high-ranking outsiders dressed to the nines in suits and ties and snappy dresses occupied a reserved section at the front of the ballroom just behind the judges. These included…

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HARBIN FIFTH GRADER WINS 2017 SPBCN BEE

Han Ai Lin, an 11-year-old fifth-grader from Harbin, China won the 2017 SPBCN National Spelling Bee on April 4, 2017, correctly spelling the word fidgety. “I am really happy and I never expected this. Probably my love for reading English books helped me in winning the competition,” said Ai Lin who attends the Harbin Normal University Elementary School. “I shall be reading more books and learning more about the English language.” This young girl discovered her love for reading when she was in second grade. “I was an exchange student…

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LESSONS FROM THE SPELLING BEE: GIVE ANYTHING A TRY…

In 2nd grade, my stern but fair and excellent teacher, Mrs. Zen, noticed that I had a certain predilection for spelling. I don’t remember taking a single spelling test back then, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she noticed that I was bored with the tests I was taking. And even the summer before I began 2nd grade, I had wowed my friends with my feat of being able to spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, often at breakneck speed. So my parents took notice. Unfortunately, in my school and district, participation in the…

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FURTHER 2017 NSB CHANGES

Nearly as reliable as the sun rising and setting, almost as inevitable as death and taxes, come the annual rule changes for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. As it happens, the bulk of these changes this year are pretty innocuous, but still noteworthy. So let’s take note and judge them accordingly. First up is the change to the Preliminaries Test. The past few years have seen the use of multiple choice Scantron tests for both spelling and vocabulary, with 12 questions devoted to each section. This year, the spelling portion…

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2017 NSB CHANGES: RANDOMIZING SPELLING ORDER

Hello to everyone from the bustling city of Tianjin, China! Tianjin is a huge city just two hours southwest of Beijing by car, or 30 minutes by high-speed train. It has over 15 million people, or over twice the population of New York City (the most populated city in the US) spread out over about 4500 square miles – nearly the size of Connecticut. I’m here as the academic director for the Spelling Bee of China (SPBCN). In less than a week, we will hold the second annual SPBCN National…

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PANDA SPELL

Since 2011, I’ve enjoyed plenty of success as a spelling bee coach, with many students working with me. A fair number of them have qualified for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. A handful ended up among the semifinalists – the top 50 spellers in the nation. A few even qualified for the coveted finals. And one speller I’ve worked with even became a co-champion: Vanya Shivashankar, in 2015. Needless to say, this has been a great experience. Just as I loved being a speller years ago, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed helping…

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2017 DENVER POST SPELLING BEE

This Saturday, March 11th, was the 2017 Denver Post Spelling Bee. This is the spelling bee that would cover all of Colorado. However, Boulder County holds its own spelling bee as well, so Colorado gets two representatives at the Scripps National Spelling Bee instead of just one. I consider this progress. When I first went to the national bee in 1987, I represented all of Colorado...and all of Wyoming. It sounded impressive, but there just wasn't a sponsor in Wyoming at the time. But by 1989, Wyoming finally had its…

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WORDS WITH VARIANTS AND NEW WORDS

In the past, words with variants were seen as words to avoid when studying for the spelling bee, since they would not appear in a bee. I'm not sure of the original logic behind it, but if I were on a word panel, I would have rather kept the bee as fair and simple as possible by ensuring that all spellers received a word that had only one correct spelling. This would ensure that 1) all spellers had the same chance to get a word right, and 2) the judges…

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