How many of these Great Australian Spelling Bee words can you spell?

Pre-teens can spell these scarily difficult words. Can you?

Imperturbable. Oscilloscope. Soliloquy.

They’re words that will intimidate the most accomplished of writers. But these eight-year-olds can spell them out without hesitation.

The Great Australian Spelling Bee premieres tonight, and its 52 teeny participants are so eye-wideningly good, they put most adults to shame.

Some of the talented spellers are just eight years old. (Image Channel 10.)

Grant Denyer, who co-hosts the show with radio and TV personality Chrissie Swan, is no exception.

“I knew that I’d be made to look a dummy from start to finish,” the self-confessed dodgy speller tells Mamamia.

“I knew they’d run rings around me. I think the only way that I could feel good while making it is to put my hand up at the start and say ‘this ain’t my strength, making TV is my strength’,” he says.

Great Australian Spelling Bee
Grant Denyer says the kids were such incredible spellers, he was “made to look a dummy from start to finish”. (Image: Channel 10)

You’re not alone, Grant. Of all the editorial staffers in Mamamia‘s Melbourne office, not a single one of us could spell this sample list of generic words, despite being paid writers.

Can you?



[ˌkwɒdrɪˈlat(ə)r(ə)l/] A four-sided figure.


[ɪmpəˈtəːbəb(ə)l]  unable to be upset or excited; calm.


[‘bʌdʒərɨɡɑr] A small Australian parrot.


[əˈsɪləskəʊp/] A device for viewing oscillations by a display on the screen of a cathode ray tube.


[‘ɡlɒk(ə)nspiːl,-ʃpiːl] A musical percussion instrument with a set of tuned metal pieces.


[/səˈlɪləkwi/] An act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud, especially by a character in a play.


[ˌambɪˈdɛkstrəs/] Able to use the right and left hands equally well.

If that list left you doubting your academic abilities, you can take comfort in the fact that the super spellers on The Great Australian Spelling Bee are not exactly your regular pre-teens.

They beat 3000 other kids to be on the show, so they really are “wizards and complete geniuses, the doctors and surgeons and astronauts and politicians of tomorrow,” as Denyer explains.

“You don’t have to be born with that academic gene”: Grant Denyer says practice makes perfect when it comes to instilling reading confidence in kids.

So what can regular Australian parents take from the show? Patience and persistence when teaching kids to enjoy literacy, apparently.

Denyer says he’s been inspired to spend more time helping his daughter Sailor, three, to love reading since he signed onto the show.

Related: The Chrissie Swan advice all parents need.

“Me and my wife [Cheryl] just wrote ourselves off as just not being academic, we just thought ‘we’re creatives, we’re not smart’,” he tells Mamamia. “But the one thing I learned about the show is, as long as you put just that little bit of time in and guide your child to develop a love of reading, great things can happen.”

“You don’t have to be born with that academic gene. If you just put that little bit of love in, the sky’s the limit.”

Host Grant Denyer with his daughter Sailor, who he’s been teaching to read. (Photo: instagram)

Denyer has also learned kids didn’t need to be “reading an encyclopedia from front to back” to become confident spellers.

“I kind of expected that a lot of the mums backstage would be the academic version of soccer mums, but that wasn’t the case at all,” he says.

The only common denominator was that… they all seemed to come from really loving homes, just wonderful supportive environments. They didn’t seem to need to come from parents that were academics.”

the great australian spelling bee
Hosts Grant Denyer and Chrissie Swan. (Image: Channel 10)

Alright then. Here’s hoping this’ll be the show to make learning cool again.

Watch a trailer here:

Video via Channel 10

The Great Australian Spelling Bee premieres tonight on Channel 10 at 7:30pm AEST.

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