Watch 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee Preliminaries Live Stream Online For Free

By Melissa Siegel, Posted: 05/29/13 11:32AM EDT

The 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee takes place this week in Washington, D.C. You can watch a live stream of the preliminary round here via ESPN3. The first preliminary round of live spelling takes place at 8:00 a.m. EDT, while the second takes place starting at 1:15 p.m. EDT.

Before you watch a free live online stream of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee, here is a preview of the preliminary round.

According to the Spelling Bee website, there are 281 young spellers in this year's bee, from all 50 states along with several countries. They range from eight to 14 years old, though nearly 90 percent are 12, 13 or 14 years of age. Females slightly outnumber males at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, with girls making up 52 percent of the competitors.

As usual, the proceedings will begin with a written test, followed by two rounds of live spelling. Those who misspell a word in either of these rounds will be eliminated, and after the third round the crop of spellers will be cut to a maximum of 50. Competitors receive three points for each word they spell right in rounds two and three, and this score is added to the written test score to determine the semifinalists.

As Associated Press notes, a controversial new rule this year will incorporate vocabulary into the Scripps National Spelling Bee. While the on-stage portions of the competition will proceed as normal, the written tests will now add sections asking contestants to define the meanings of words.

"The reason for the change is all about extending the bee's commitment to its purpose, which long has been not only to help students improve their spelling, but also to increase the vocabulary, learn concepts and develop correct English usage," Spelling Bee director Paige Kimble told CNN.

However, some competitors are worried about this new aspect of the contest, especially considering it was announced less than two months before the D.C. competition.

"When I first heard about it, I was thinking, 'It's going to be a lot harder now,'" contestant Alicia Gonzalez told the Washington Times. "Instead of just spelling the word, we have to know what it means."

Others, like first-timer Richard Moraga, noted that the change makes the competition fairer, taking away some of the advantage the returning contestants have.

"The repeat [competitors] don't really matter anymore," he told the Chicago Tribune.

One competitor to watch in the Scripps National Spelling Bee is Arvind Mahankali from New York. Per the Bee website, he is the only person from last year's finals to return to the competition in 2013. The New York native finished in third place in both 2011 and 2012.

Another potential favorite is Vanya Shivashankar from Kansas, whose sister, Kavya, won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2009. The 11-year-old Vanya tied for 10th place last year.

Did you watch a free live online stream of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee? Post your thoughts on the preliminaries in our comments section below.

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