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Helpful Words and Phrases

Listen and repeat.

  1. a spelling bee
    • ex. My daughter is studying a list of words for her class spelling bee.
    • ex. We need to standardize the tests. Right now, every class has a different test.
  2. a contestant
    • ex. I want to be a contestant on a game show and win lots of money!
    • ex. I often ask my students to read things aloud.
    • ex. Nouns, verbs, and adjectives are all parts of speech.


Read the article below and answer your tutor's questions.

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After training for only 2 years, Zaila Avant-garde has become the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion. The 14-year-old received a $50,000 (about ¥5.5 million) prize and was congratulated by Barack Obama on Twitter. Avant-garde’s winning word was “murraya,” a type of tropical tree.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee was started in 1925. Avant-garde is the first Black American champion and the first winner from Louisiana, which ranks 47th for education out of 50 states. The 14-year-old is homeschooled and said that she studies spelling for about 7 hours every day. Avant-garde also has three spelling tutors and uses several computer programs to train.

Spelling bees began as a way to standardize the spelling of American English. Contestants are asked to spell words aloud. Before they try to spell a word, though, they may ask the judges to use the word in a sentence. Contestants are also allowed to ask for the word’s meaning, part of speech, and language of origin. Latin, Middle English, French, Greek, Italian, and German are the most common origins.


Choose a topic and discuss the questions with your tutor.


  • In your opinion, is it important to know how to spell words correctly? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • What do you think are good ways to improve your spelling (ex. studying word lists, understanding word origins)? Why? Discuss.
  • In your opinion, which is better, American spelling or British spelling (ex. color vs. colour, theater vs. theatre)? Why? Discuss.


  • Avant-garde is homeschooled and studies spelling for about 7 hours every day. Do you think that's okay, or is it too much? Why? Discuss.
  • Do you think that academic contests like spelling bees are a good idea? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Louisiana ranks 47th in education out of 50 states. In your opinion, why do some areas have such a low education ranking (ex. they don't have a lot of money, many people quit school)? Discuss.