Spelling success: spelling tests are still important in literacy development

Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 7:45 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The first Scripps National Spelling Bee was held in 1925, long before Google and spell check were around. 90 years later, students are still working hard to spell their way to the national stage in Washington D.C.

“Arduous: adjective, involving or requiring strenuous effort. It was an arduous journey.

Students representing 48 of North Dakota’s 53 counties were at the Bismarck Event Center Monday to find out which of them would out spell the competition and complete the arduous task of being North Dakota’s top speller. Being the best speller, or even a satisfactory one, will often shine through in other linguistic areas as well.

“Spelling and reading, hand in hand. I guarantee you ask most of these students here and they’ve got top reading scores in their schools. So, spelling, vocabulary, reading, writing, they are all pieces of one puzzle,” said North Dakota Spelling Bee Director Miranda Streifel.

Even though some form of spell check is available in most writing programs, it’s important for students to be able to break down words to find the origins, or root meaning, of a word.

Students prepared in a few different ways and some chose traditional ways of studying.

“Well, I just looked at the list a lot and wrote down the words, and if I didn’t know them, I’d get pronunciations off the internet and if I know them, I’ll either say them orally or write them down on a piece of paper,” said Mason Feist from Napoleon representing Logan County.

Others had apps like “Word Club” to challenge them.

“It gives you multiple different ways to study and there’s flashcards, you can type the whole word, multiple choice. It’s three different levels of difficulty and it prepares you for the words in the spelling bee,” said Ella Wass from Central Middle School representing Ramsey County.

Director Miranda Streifle said the best way for parents to help their children be better spellers is simply to read to them, even as infants. The National Scripps Spelling Bee will start on May 30 and conclude on June 1.

This year’s spelling champion was just announced, Luna Gasevic out-spelled Chinmay Gopi with the word “Vaseline.” Both students attend Franklin Middle School in Fargo.