There is a change in the venerable Scripps National Spelling Bee, which will take place May 28 to 30 in Oxon Hill, Maryland. No longer will a champion of spelling be able to get away with just, you know, spelling words. A multiple-choice vocabulary portion has been added to the competition, according to Scripps National Spelling Bee organizers. Gah! As a person who was kicked out of her school spelling bee disconcertingly early for spelling confident as confidant (I meant it the French way, I did!), this might have actually been beneficial—or entirely the opposite. But anyway, what about the hordes of children who've been toiling away day after day learning the letters that go into words who will now be tasked with meaning, too?
The AP reports that this is sort of the point: Scripps "Executive Director Paige Kimble said the changes help reinforce the competition's purpose—to encourage students to improve their spelling and broaden their knowledge of the language." Kimble thinks that championship-level spellers, who care about both things, will be thrilled to demonstrate not only their spelling knowledge, but also their vocab skills. "These spellers will be excited at the opportunity to show off their vocabulary knowledge through competition," she said. And, of course, spellers have long been able to ask for definitions as they attempt to spell words, which I easily could have done with confidant, had I thought of that.