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Children of Indian Immigrants Win Spelling Bee


Jairam Hathwar, 13, of Painted Post, N.Y., left, and Nihar Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, right, pat each other on the back as they hear that they will likely be announced co-champions after a drawn-out battle that did indeed end in them being named co-cham

Jairam Hathwar, 13, of Painted Post, N.Y., left, and Nihar Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, right, pat each other on the back as they hear that they will likely be announced co-champions after a drawn-out battle that did indeed end in them being named co-cham


This is What’s Trending Today:

For the third time in three years, two students shared the Scripps National Spelling Bee championship Thursday night.

It was an exciting finish to the three-day event. The hashtag #spellingbee was one of the top trending topics on Twitter overnight.

The winners were 11-year-old Nihar Janga of Texas, and Jairam Hathwar, a 13-year-old from New York State.

Both boys’ parents are from southern India.

Two years ago, Jairam’s brother Sriram also shared the spelling bee championship.

This year’s championship was unique because of Akash Vukoti, the youngest person ever to compete in the event. He is just six years old!

Lots of people said they loved him because, as some of them said, he was “so darn cute!”

In a Spelling Bee, a moderator asks competitors to spell a series of words. Some of the words are fairly common in the English language, but others are not. If the student spells the word correctly, he or she keeps competing. Eventually only two spellers remain. The last one to spell a word is the champion.

Nihar and Jairam each missed words in the final round. But the two boys spelled their last words correctly, so the championship ended in a tie.

The final words were Feldenkrais and gesellschaft. Feldenkrais is a kind of physical education named after a Ukrainian-born Israeli physicist. Gesellschaft is the name of a social relationship created by a German sociologist.

This year the spelling bee was more difficult than ever. Instead of only using words with Greek and Latin roots, organizers also chose words with origins in Afrikaans, Danish, Irish Gaelic, Maori and Mayan.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is a large event. It started with more than 280 students who had won in local spelling competitions. Those winners move on to the national event, just outside Washington, D.C.

Lots of people were talking about the Spelling Bee on social media.

One Twitter user said she felt like the Bee was going into “six overtimes.”

Other people enjoyed seeing children do a dance move called “the dab” after they spelled words correctly.

One baseball player added he was “amazed by how good” the children were.

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Jill Robbins.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Have you ever participated in a Spelling Bee? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

unique – adj. used to say that something or someone is unlike anything or anyone else

cute – adj. having a pleasing or youthful experience

origins – n. roots; the point or place where something begins or is created

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