In the past 450 years there have been almost 500 different forms of shorthand developed in Great Britain.

Teeline shorthand was developed by James Hill in the 1960s. He was a Pitman teacher and taught evening classes. He noticed that he started the new year-long course with a large number of students but as the year progressed the number of students dwindled. Learning Pitman was difficult since the subject required a lot of dedication and study in order to perfect the new alphabet and theory before being able to put it into practice.

By the end of the year, James Hill noticed that a group of less academic students could write a shortened form of longhand as quickly as they could write the Pitman shorthand,

and so he set about developing a new system, based on the alphabet with its upper case, lower case and cursive style of writing which was popular at the time. The use of phonetics is an integral part of the system.

With his first class, he managed to teach a small group of journalists the theory in less than 36 hours and achieve dictation speeds of 70 and 90 words a minutes over a time of five minutes. There was no textbook and he used butcher paper to illustrate the theory. This new Teeline theory was revolutionary since it took a year to learn Pitman.

At first Teeline was not accepted as a “real shorthand” by schools and colleges. But over time it was accepted and studied by Pitman-trained teachers.

James Hill believed that any shorthand system should stimulate the students before they became bored with learning the theory and believed that the students should start taking down short dictation pieces while having a grasp of the learning theory.

In my 25 years of teaching Teeline, I have followed James Hill’s message and I have experienced the excitement of students in discovering how quickly they are able to adapt to this system in just three weeks of learning.