How to Prepare for Spelling Bees

How to Prepare for Spelling Bees

SpellPundit is a one-stop resource for spelling, vocabulary, roots, homonyms, phrased/hyphenated words, and custom lists. SpellShakti, SpellPundit’s affiliated blog, was created to provide tips and resources for aspiring spellers.

The number one question every new speller has is, “How do I study for spelling bees?” To be a successful speller, you need to be interested in the English language and you need to have a good strategy to learn a lot of words quickly.

A lot of people think spelling is boring because it requires a lot of memorization, but this is untrue. The way the words are spelled is not random— many are a combination of Latin/Greek roots or certain language patterns. Spelling becomes fun when you learn roots and patterns, because then it becomes a puzzle. For example, if you are asked to spell the word “cinephile” (a lover of motion pictures), you can piece it together using roots, even if you’ve never seen the word before. The Greek root “cine-“ is short for cinema and “–phile” is from the Greek root “philos” meaning loving.  Another example of a word you can make an educated guess about is the German word schalstein (a metamorphic rock formed from basalt). In German, the /sh/ sound is typically spelled “sch” and the German word “stein” means stone. Once you learn roots and language patterns, you won’t need to memorize many words, and spelling will become enjoyable.

As for an efficient study strategy, there is no substitute for hard work and practice. Every successful speller practices over the whole year. Studying spelling every single day is the best way to learn a lot of words and remember them well. The summer is a great time to learn lots of new words, since you’ll have more free time. The SpellPundit modules can help you learn all the words you need to know accurately and quickly.

The Merriam-Webster online unabridged dictionary (unabridged.merriam-webster.com), the official dictionary of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, has 470,000 words total. However, a lot of these words are very easy (ex. cat, dog, and, but) and/or repetitive (ex. ask, asking, asked). By removing these words, the 470,000 words can be condensed to about 100,000 base words. Suddenly, the dictionary is smaller and more manageable to learn.

The SpellPundit database has these 100,000 base words with the pronunciation, definition, part of speech, and language of origin for each word. You can read through a set of words in flashcard format, and then you can test yourself on these words. You can also re-test yourself on any words you missed. This helps you learn words quickly and gives you a competitive advantage at spelling bees.

In 2013, the Scripps National Spelling Bee started testing spellers on vocabulary. Some regional spelling bees also ask vocabulary questions. SpellPundit vocabulary module is a very efficient way to learning words and their definitions. Just like the spelling module, the vocab modules allow you to study words and then test yourself.

One area where a lot of spellers get tripped up is with homophones and homonyms, which are when two or more words are pronounced the same way, but they have different definitions and spellings. For example: phrase has 2 homonyms: fraise and frase. SpellPundit allows you to study these homonyms and learn the differences between them so you will never get confused during a bee.

Last year, the Scripps National Spelling Bee transitioned from the print version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary to the online dictionary (unabridged.merriam-webster.com). This online dictionary has a lot of words that the print dictionary did not have. Scripps has starting asked a lot of these new words in their bees, such as xylorimba, turducken, mizuna, and Beringia. In fact, there were quite a few of these new words in the National Spelling Bee last year, such as arribada, clafouti, Bruneian, and bucatini. SpellPundit is different from other study resources on the market because it has all these new online words in its database for spellers to learn and test themselves.

Scripps has also recently incorporated phrased and hyphenated words into their spelling and vocabulary rounds. These words are idioms and phrases that are commonly used in conversation and in writing.  Some of these words have made an appearance in regional bees, such as vingt-et-un, alla prima, and pro rata. SpellPundit’s phrased and hyphenated modules have a comprehensive list of all these words in the dictionary. These modules allow a speller to practice both the spelling and definitions of these words.

SpellPundit also offers custom lists, like Paideia, Consolidated Word List, North South Foundation list words, etc. These lists are available in both learning and testing modes.

All of SpellPundit’s modules are divided into sets of 500 words each. This is a reasonable amount of words to study in a couple of hours for novice spellers. This makes the process of learning the dictionary less overwhelming.

If you have an interest in words and you want to become a successful speller, SpellPundit is a great resource to use in your preparation. We have all the resources you need, and by using our website, you can learn all these words accurately and efficiently.

Visit our website (www.spellpundit.com) to explore our free modules and see how SpellPundit can be your key to success!

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