Your Complete Guide and How to Watch – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

The Scripps National Spelling Bee kicks off this week when 234 spellers descend on National Harbor, Maryland for the first fully personal Bee since 2019.

Bee 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic and last year’s event was mostly virtual.

Vocabulary questions and a blitz round tiebreaker return for this year’s competition to ensure a single champion can be identified. That’s because the Bee had co-champions from 2014-16, and the 2019 Bee ended in an eight-eights draw after organizers ran out of words difficult enough to challenge the top spellers, whose preparation came with personal Trainers and comprehensive study guides were no match for the vaunted Scripps word list.

Actor and literacy advocate LeVar Burton will host the contest and interview spellers and their families backstage. Last year’s winner, Zaila Avantgarde, returns as an analyst for the show.

About a dozen spellers will move into Thursday night’s primetime finale. The winner will receive more than $50,000 in cash and prizes.

Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s Spelling Bee:

Why is it called a spelling bee?

While the origin of the word “bee” is still a matter of debate, according to Merriam-Webster – who has been involved with the competition since 1957 – the word is bee is an adaptation of a word meaning “voluntary help from neighbors to accomplish a specific task” and comes from the Middle English word good.

The word has historically been used to describe group activities or occasions where farmers or neighbors helped each other, such as

Before it was commonly referred to as “spelling bees,” Webster’s says it was about trials in spelling, spelling school, spelling match, spelling-fight, and spelling combat.

The National Spelling Bee was first created in 1925 when nine newspapers banded together to host a spelling bee. Only nine competed in the championship that year and had the honor of meeting President Calvin Coolidge before they competed. In 1941 the Scripps Howard News Service took over the event and has operated it ever since with the help of local sponsors, most of whom are daily and weekly newspapers.

How do you compete in the Spelling Bee?

Students from schools participating in the Scripps program are eligible to participate. Spellers usually compete at the classroom level to determine who will attend the school bee. School bee winners often determine who advances to a district or county competition, which is then fed into a regional or state bee for a chance at entering the National Spelling Bee competition.

The 2018 and 2019 bees had a wildcard program designed as an alternative path to bee for spellers in difficult regions. But in 2019, more than half of the 562 spellers in the bee were wildcards, many of them younger children who weren’t competitive at the national level. Scripps had planned to scale back the program in 2020, but it was scrapped altogether ahead of the 2021 competition.

This leaves this year’s bee with 234 spellers, all of whom have qualified on the basis of their merits.

The preliminary rounds at Nationals consist of three oral competition rounds: two spelling rounds and a multiple-choice word meaning round. The quarterfinals and semifinals continue rounds of oral spelling and multiple choice word meaning until officials declare the end of these events. A wrong answer in one of these rounds automatically leads to elimination.

The finals also consist of oral competition rounds, but the officials can activate the blitz round when the bee reaches the end of its allotted time and cannot achieve a single winner in the traditional way, eliminating misspellings due to misunderstanding a word.

The spellers would have 90 seconds to spell as many words correctly as possible. In the rapid-fire tiebreaker, the spellers in the blitz round would get the same words and be isolated from each other.

How to prepare for a spell check

Scripps annually publishes a list of hundreds of words divided into three levels of difficulty: One Bee, Two Bee, and Three Bee. Once a speller has mastered the words on the School Spelling Bee Study List, they can tackle the Words of the Champions list to prepare for regional and national spelling bees.

Who are this year’s wizards?

This year’s field of participants comes from all 50 states, several territories, DoD schools in Europe and other countries including the Bahamas, Canada, Germany and Ghana.

The book writers are between 7 and 15 years old, 45 of them have previously participated in the competition, including three who took fourth place in 2021.

For a full list of spellings click here.

What do Spelling Bee winners get?

In addition to boasting rights and a trophy, the winner of the Scripps competition will win $52,500 in cash prizes and $400 in Encyclopedia Britannica works.

The other finalists will receive:

  • Second place: $25,000
  • Third place: $15,000
  • Fourth place: $10,000
  • Fifth place: $5,000
  • Sixth place: $2,500

If more than two spellers share places two through six, the cash prize is determined by the sum of the prize divided by the number of winners. For example, if three spellers share fourth place, the cash prize for each would be the sum of the fourth, fifth, and sixth place prize amounts divided by three; Therefore, each writer who finishes fourth would receive $5,833.33 (($2,500 + $5,000 + $10,000)/3).

All participants will receive an annual subscription to Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online and Britannica Online Premium, as well as a 2022 US Mint Proof Set.

Here’s how to watch the 2022 National Spelling Bee

Scripps announced last fall that it was ending its 27-year partnership with ESPN, which brought the bee to millions of viewers and promoted it like a major sporting event.

The Bee of the Year will air on Scripps-owned networks ION and Bounce and stream online.

According to Cincinnati-based Scripps, these networks are each available in nearly 120 million US homes. To find an ION TV station near you, click here.

The semifinals will air on Wednesday, June 1st at 8:00pm ET and the finals will air on Thursday, June 2nd, also at 8:00pm ET. Both competitions will make their primetime debut on ION.

Would you like to follow every lap live? Switch to the free streaming platforms IONPlus and Bounce XL to watch the Prelims on Tuesday, May 31 at 9:00 a.m. ET and the Quarterfinals starting at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 1.

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