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Thread: Spelling Bee + Vocabulary

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by MissyJ View Post
    I think that those should be two totally different competitions. One strictly for spelling and one that is a Vocabulary Quiz bowl with either defining upon request or doing both -- spelling/definitions.

    The benefit of being able to spell words that are otherwise unfamiliar without necessarily learning the definition is that it often can be a game of deduction and reasoning -- skills that are terrific to teach / rely upon later in life. Part of the official rules for national spelling bees offer the participant (speller) the chance to request additional information -- including origin, pronunciation, definitions, root words, use in a sentence, etc. The student then can use that information as parts of a puzzle to correctly spell the word(s).

    Is it important to have an extensive vocabulary? Absolutely -- and many of those participating in spelling bees *DO* grow their vocabulary as a part of the process of studying. Still, for most students it is impossible to review every single word in the English language -- thus those lessons in deduction can aid them in being able to spell the word. (Alternate tips / tricks can help in defining words through their knowledge of roots and origins.)

    Other benefits of participating in spelling bees include promotion of literacy, improved public speaking abilities, increased language comprehension, marked improvements in study skills. Through their exposure on stage also aids in being a confidence builder for those that may be otherwise more quiet and studious than peers.

    I would LOVE to see the vocabulary competition grow... but not while doing away with something also important. Beside - those lessons come in handy for Scrabble!
    Very good points Missy. My daughter put a ton of time (6 months) into learning the words for the spelling bee. She would not have been able to study nearly as many if she was learning the definitions as well.

    ~Bonita~

  2. #12
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    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?
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  3. #13
    Posting Addict ClairesMommy's Avatar
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    Or pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

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    Quote Originally Posted by Potter75 View Post
    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?
    You will still win Scrabble tournaments.
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  5. #15
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    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)

  6. #16
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    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)

    ~Bonita~

  7. #17
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    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.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by freddieflounder101 View Post
    You will still win Scrabble tournaments.
    or hangman!

  9. #19
    Posting Addict ClairesMommy's Avatar
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    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.
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  10. #20
    Posting Addict KimPossible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClairesMommy View Post
    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.
    Thats what i'm saying though....spelling bees really aren't about memorization. Sure a great majority of the kids who compete, thats all they do is memorize, but the ones who really get into it and become really good at it do so much more than that. They learn about the words, they learn about the etymology of words, thats why the ask for definitions and origins....you can't memorize every word, so you deduce if the "FFF" sound comes from a "PH" or an actual "F" based on what the world actually means and where it comes from.

    I like spelling bees and they are so much more complex than just memorizing words if you want to actually get serious about it.

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