What’s the Buzz Behind Spelling Bees?

Buzz, buzz, buzz!

Buzz, buzz, buzz!

Isheeta Chandrasekhar

Picture a student skimming through a stapled bunch of papers, shaking side to side nervously until called up to a dimly lit stage. A judge right in front of the student reads a word off of a packet and gestures to the student to start talking. The student enunciates every sound and syllable of the word. For years, spelling bees have been held throughout schools across the country ever since 1908, nearly over a century ago. From what started in a small town in Ohio is now one of the competitions schools in New Jersey compete in annually. In fact, our school planned on hosting the spelling bee event on January 13, in 2023. But what do middle schoolers think about the spelling bee, and how did the competition get so famous?

The first spelling bee competition was hosted by the National Education Association in part of its 46th convention. Today, the Scripps National Spelling Bee is devoted to improving word spelling and increasing vocabulary amongst the youth of the United States, Canada, the Bahamas, India, Ghana, Japan, Jamaica, Mexico and New Zealand. Communication is something that is very important in order to survive in the present world. This means that it is a priority for people, especially the younger folk that will take care of the new generation, to learn how to communicate effectively and efficiently. Improving vocabulary and pronunciation can help people to communicate with each other, and friendly competition can be a source of motivation for competitors to enhance their communication capabilities. Over the years the English language has become very popular with approximately 1.5 billion speakers. As a percentage according to the “VisualCapitalist”, roughly fifteen percent of the global population speak in English. In the Scripps National Spelling Bee, inclusivity seems to take up a key role in the lists of words that are delivered to learning communities that help students excel academically. Some of these words are borrowed from other languages, which can give spelling bee competitors a headstart in learning other languages. Some of the commonly borrowed words come from Greek and Latin origins. Other ways the Scripps Spelling Bee actually plans on influencing people’s interests and interpretation on spelling are by telling people to download The World Club app for free. The app includes multiple quiz and study options for all of the aspects necessary for preparing for the spelling bee. If you plan on joining our school’s spelling bee, you can study from the main source of the words used from Merriam-Webster Unabridged. Or you can simply sign up to attend our school’s spelling bee at our school’s main office and receive the packet used for preparing for the competition. 

In Infinity Institute’s seventh grade only around fifteen people decided to join the spelling bee. A handful of people decided to attend because they had been attending annual spelling bees for the past couple of years, and some people decided to join to accompany certain classmates who were joining. A seventh grader who decided not to join the spelling bee was asked about their thoughts on the upcoming spelling bee hosted at Infinity Institute. This is how the short conference went: 


Interviewer: What are your thoughts on the upcoming Spelling Bee competition? 

Seventh Grader: I didn’t join because I’m too busy with school work and I didn’t have time to study all of those words. 

Interviewer: Do you think other students should join? 

Seventh Grader: I don’t really have any thoughts about, I’m neutral. 

A sixth grader who decided to join the Spelling Bee competition was asked the same question, along with one regarding her own feelings about joining the Spelling Bee. 

Interviewer: What are your thoughts on the upcoming Spelling Bee competition? 

Sixth Grader: I feel nervous and excited, and I like being in the spotlight. I’ve also been watching the spelling bee for the past couple of years with my mom, so I’m excited to participate in the Spelling Bee. 

Today, people struggle to spell words that may seem simple to others. Even if you’re not planning on participating in this year’s Spelling Bee, it’s still a good idea to practice a few spelling words from the Spelling Bee packet online. Communication is key, and holds a strong influence over the way people view you and the way you react to certain situations. 

Works Cited

Ghosh, Iman, and Omri Wallach. “Ranked: The 100 Most Spoken Languages Worldwide.” Visual Capitalist, 15 February 2020, https://www.visualcapitalist.com/100-most-spoken-languages/. Accessed 8 January 2023.

“Spelling Bees – A Brief History – LTProfessionals.” Language Teaching Professionals, https://ltprofessionals.com/spelling-bees-a-brief-history/. Accessed 8 January 2023.