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Arizona's top spellers reveal how they prepare for Scripps National Spelling Bee

Scripps National Spelling Bee
Posted at 9:13 PM, Jun 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-10 12:08:12-04

PHOENIX — It has all the drama of a major sporting event. It's televised on ESPN2. The athletes are some of the smartest kids in the country.

Tanish Doshi is one of them. The 14 year-old from Oro Valley will be the sole Arizona representative for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which begins June 12.

"I’m really excited. There’s a lot of anticipation and this and that but I’m very excited," he said.

Tanish recently out-lasted fifth grader Ananya Goli, who attends BASIS Phoenix Central. Both students revealed a few tricks of the trade to winning spelling bees.

Contrary to popular belief, the students say, they don't spend hours and hours memorizing lists of words. While they do study word lists, both emphasized, it's more important to understand the language of origin.

So, yes, when you watch the Bee, and a kid asks for language of origin, they're not stalling; they're trying to figure it out.

"If I heard a word and you used an 'ih' sound... (like) symposium. If I’ve been told that’s a Greek word, I’m probably going to use a Y with the sound because that’s a very common way why is used in Greek, but in Latin it’s very rarely used," Doshi said.

"Like if it’s a German word they are specific rules to that come out like how it’s pronounced. It it’s German, it gives you a clue as to how to spell it," Goli said.

Both spellers admit, they've used this technique when they hear words they've never heard before. There are more than 400,000 words in the English language, making it virtually impossible to memorize.

"There were a lot of words that are going to be like that. Most of them I knew how to spell, but a few of them I had to take an educated guess on," Goli said.

The next step for Doshi: making it through the preliminary rounds, which will be held virtually. If he survives to the top 10, he'll be able to travel to ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, for the nationally-televised finals on July 8.

The Arizona Spelling Bee was held virtually on March 20, 2021. The Arizona Educational Foundation is the sponsor of the Arizona Spelling Bee and is also supported by Thunderbird Charities.

For more information, you can go to their website.