ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Thousands of kids across the nation are already burning the midnight oil, learning complex words in the hope of being crowned the 2011 Spelling Bee champion. But, for the first time ever, America's most-beloved competition will be in Spanish as well as English.
In a move likely to infuriate English-only campaigners and other conservatives, the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will host the inaugural Santillana National Spanish Spelling Bee on July 9th 2011.
Daniel Ward, editor of Language Magazine, one of the event's sponsors, welcomed the news, "Finally, we're starting to celebrate the multilingualism of America. Instead of dumbing down our children, we're recognizing that, like most of the world's other children, they'll need more than one language to succeed in our global village."
The Inaugural National Spanish Spelling Bee, organized by the New Mexico Association for Bilingual Education (NMABE) and the Alliance for Multilingual Multicultural Education (AMME), offers the opportunity for all Spanish-speaking kids across the nation, be they mother-tongue speakers or children who are learning the language, to showcase their command of Spanish spelling.
Although Spanish is considered a "morphophonemic" language in which it is relatively easy to spell, the Spanish Bee challenges native and non-native speakers alike to excel in important academic arenas within the language arts. Beyond the act of actually spelling, Spanish diacritical marks are also a challenge for students. It is much more than just memorizing spellings.
As contestants prepare for the National Bee, they accrue valuable skills for academic learning. Word origins are analyzed, and since thousands of Spanish words come from Greek, Latin and Arabic, the contestants increase their lexical repertoire which helps in many areas of study, such as math, science, literature, etc. Finally, Spelling Bees not only validate and give equity to the Spanish language, but also contribute greatly to the development of a positive self-image for the contestants.
The event will feature 11 finalists from Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, and Texas.
"Every journey begins with a first step and this is our first step as we continue to work at organizing this event," stated David BriseÃ±o, event organizer. "We will use this year's success and will continue to grow until this becomes an event of national event."