Why Indians Win Spelling Bee?

indians win spelling bee

Indians (Indian origin Americans) are consistently winning the spelling bee beating other particpants from American origin. It has happened not just this year but time and again.

spelling bee is a competition in which contestants are asked to spell a broad selection of words, usually with a varying degree of difficulty. To compete, contestants must memorize the spellings of words as written in dictionaries, and recite them accordingly. 

So why do Indians win the spelling bee most of the time? Even better question is, why do some communities/cultures are better in some particular field compared to others. 

Some of the reasons, in short, why Indians win the spelling bee is a well-educated family, the parental focus towards education, parents own educational and family education and work status, community interests and factors like immigration laws inviting talented individuals. 

A study suggests it was from 1965 when there was a change in immigration laws and that allowed highly educated individuals to come into this country. So we brought in a big wave of Indian-Americans and that really set the foundation. … Then the rest of the timeline is, the 1985 winner was the first Indian-American winner, so as soon as people saw that he could do it, that told everyone else, ‘If he can succeed, I can succeed.'” 

Indian parents are very focused and in some cases very strict for their kids to do well in education. Not just do well, but excel and score top ranks in their school or any competition. However, there is more to this story. 

As per another research, Indians do very well in academic competitions, especially those focused on math or science and of course in spelling bee. On the other hand, they don’t do very well in other fields like music and athletics where Indian-Americans either barely hold their own or are non-existent at the top level.

It is possible to understand these gaps.

In music, it is likely that Indian-American parents prefer to focus on the rich musical traditions from the subcontinent (that also keep their children connected to the culture).

Outside cricket, India hardly figures in global sport; so it is hard to imagine that Indian-Americans would do much better.

There is a range of plausible reasons as to why talent in some communities gets directed toward some channels and not others, but in the case of second generation Indian-Americans, the selection of the parents who immigrated to the US is perhaps the most important factor.

Many of these parents have extremely high levels of educational attainment themselves – over a third have postgraduate degrees and another one-third have college degrees.

About 90% of their degrees are in technical fields, the vast majority in engineering.

These high concentrations are also seen in what first generation Indian parents do for a living.  Close to a third work in information technology and computer-related occupations.

Several Indian-American entrepreneurs are in the same fields, but many more own and run gas stations and fast food franchises, or are in the business of hotels and motels, an industry that they dominate.

So, the parents of these high-achieving youngsters are highly educated and value education.

There are suggestions that they are particularly adept at rote learning and memorisation. They work in clusters and use ethnic and family networks to dominate a few professions.

These properties are strikingly similar to what works for their children in the spelling and geography bees – education, memorisation, and networks.

Perhaps most important are the values that are transmitted to the second generation.

The immigrant’s hunger for success, as individuals and as a community. The drive to work hard and suffer deprivations when needed. Anything that must be done to be both part of the mainstream and a shining example in it.