Perhaps. But given the choice between my child spending 6 months memorizing spanish words and learning how to spell and pronounce them with no clue as to their meaning...or over the course of 6 months learning only half as many words but learning how to spell them and WHAT THEY MEAN......well, I know what I would prefer. What is the point of having a child who can "perform" to spell a bunch of words that are meaningless to them? I'd rather have a child with an understanding of the spanish language.
Substitute english, and you will understand why I think that knowing how to spell without understanding meaning is totally pointless. Its like a party trick. Like memorizing the Pi sequence or something. If you can't apply it to real life because you have no idea what it means, how on earth does knowing how to spell huipil matter?
Laurie, mom to:
Nathaniel ( 11 ) and Juliet ( 7 )
Baking Adventures In A Messy Kitchen (blog)
But I do think they will get to know the words. They are given the definitions of the words before spelling them and I'm assuming this happens in practice too. You are bound to begin to understand a lot of that vocabulary.
I just don't think spewing out a definition works for everyone. Being good at spelling doesn't mean you can provide an indepth definition. Like I said, I understand a lot of words and use them properly and know what they mean but to give a proper meaning...not my strong suit.
Mom to Elizabeth (6) and Corinne (4)
As Missy pointed out, you are learning the skill of how to spell. As someone who did not learn that skill well as a child (Even though I went to public NY schools), I can tell you not being able to spell well is a handicap. Job applications, written job related work, and college are just few examples when spelling is important. We did look up definitions of the words we studied, but that does not mean that she knew them well enough to recite them.
Because that I struggle with spelling so much, it is very important to me that my girls spell well, and it is something that we focus on. (Obviously not the only thing we focus on)
All the kids who do really really well at spelling bees study the definitions anyway, and learn etymology. Spelling and definition and etymology all go hand in hand. Learning the definition should in theory only improve your spelling.
I get that it changes the whole dynamic a lot, and will mean that some people will do better than others that may not necessarily have done so in the original format...but overall, i think it sounds like a positive.
Perhaps the reason why I have an issue with kids learning to spell words this way, by rote, is because I am a huge proponent of phonics. To me, spelling bees are just examples of memorization and nothing more. Yeah, a kid has memorized this really bizarre word that nobody ever uses or has heard of (which in an of itself is pretty pointless, IMO) but are they then able to attempt to correctly spell a word by breaking it down phonetically first? I don't think bees are like detrimental and messing up a kid's mind or anything like that, I just think they're pointless. You memorized the spelling of a word. Yay. Now, use that word in a sentence.
I like spelling bees and they are so much more complex than just memorizing words if you want to actually get serious about it.