Spelling bee

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by DreamerX, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. DreamerX Member

    This may be partially a cultural question, but I was wondering whether your country held these competitions and, if so, what they were called in your language. Spelling bees have become something of a longstanding tradition in English-speaking societies. Basically, these are competitions where people (usually school-age children and teenagers) are called up, one at a time, to spell a vast array of words. There are usually many rounds in spelling bees, each one representing a greater degree of difficulty. The competitions are typically challenging and involve prior preparations, with would-be competitors studying not only the spelling of many difficult words but also things like affixes, suffixes, and even the foreign language the words are rooted in. They are televised and broadcast nationwide like game shows but are only held once a year. The word “bee” in the name has nothing to do with the insect; it is an archaic English word that means “gathering.” I also understand that these competitions would be difficult to hold for languages where the correspondence between phonetics and spelling is greater, but I can’t be too sure. Does this tradition exist in your country? If so, what is the equivalent of a spelling bee called?
  2. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    As Russian is a relatively phonetic language (words are generally spelled as they sound), there is no such thing as compatitive spelling bees.
  3. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I bumped into a good explanation for the use of 'bee' here at etymonline.com:
    In the Low Countries there is a 'new tradition': Het Grote Dictee, the Great Dictation, based on a very difficult text composed by a writer...
  4. Euganeo New Member

    Hi! In Italy there's nothing like that! I think they would be a bit boring with italian language!
  5. origumi Senior Member

    Spelling bee game makes sense in Hebrew due to several kinds of spelling difficulties, but for whatever reason it's not too popular in Israel.
  6. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    I just wanted to add that in Russian schools a very popular exersise is dictation, where the teacher dictates a text (its difficulty depends on class level) and the students write it up. Students' write up is graded on spelling and punctuation. It is not competitive though.
  7. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    Likewise in Greek elementary schools, the exercise is called «ορθογραφία» [orθoɣra'fi.a] (fem.) --> orthography, it's not a nationally organised event though, and certainly not competitive.
  8. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod (AL mod)

    French (lower Normandy)
    In France, traditionally we don't have spelling bees but rather dictations (dictées)

    For quite a long time, we had "la dictée de Pivot", which took place in the whole country and was televised, but not for students specifically.
    And not long ago, they did something like a spelling bee, where young students had to spell words and it was shown on TV as well. Oh, here it is: le tournoi d'orthographe (literally: spelling tournament, even if "concours d'orthographe" (spelling contest/competition) sounds more natural to me). But as grammar has a great impact on spelling (agreement of the past participle for instance), it seems quite incomplete (and boring to watch :D) to me.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014
  9. DreamerX Member

    North American schools (mostly elementary schools) have a spelling test at the end of each week. For the test, students are required to memorize the spelling and meaning of ten or, perhaps, more words. I don’t think teachers ever ask students to memorize entire texts, although I could be wrong. As for spelling bees, they also held at the regional level (state spelling bees in the U.S., and provincial ones in Canada). As well, most schools sponsor and organize their own spelling bees, where students are either required or given the option to compete (depending on the school).
  10. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I like integrated spelling (plus remedial spelling teaching) better. Dictation as such is an unnatural genre, and seems to reduce spelling to 'l'art pour l'art' and acrobatics... Not that I underestimate the importance of spelling though.
  11. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    No, with the dictation students are not required to memorise anything. The teacher reads the text and the students write after the teacher. The reading is slow with pauses so that the students have the time to write it.

    I think it depends on the language. For the Russian language dictations are a good tool because the spelling is easier than, say, in English, but the punctuation is much more complex and important. also, it allows to practice writing words in context rather than in isolation.

    Also, to me, "spelling tests" where the students write lists of random words is much more unnatural.
  12. learnerr Senior Member

    That has to do, I think, not only with language in use, but also with status of things. In Russian schools such propaganda-like attention (with symbols, special names etc) is or more likely was given rather to tests for mathematical creativeness (like "mathematical kangaroo", which is, as far as I remember, an ages-old international event, but it has of course its regional sections as well). It is never broadcasted, though. The social status of good writing does not seem to be so high as to warrant events of this kind, even if they are possible in principle.
    But maybe I overlooked something; I never have looked into these matters in depth.
  13. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    Dictation الإملاء is a common exercise - not contest - in Arabic primary schools.

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