I remember my first shorthand lesson with Helen Bibbo as a young cadet. I never thought I would be able to achieve 120 words a minute using this strange language, but, with Helen as my mentor and teacher, I was able to achieve my goal. Since then, shorthand has become an invaluable tool for me a journalist and I use it on a daily basis. Helen is a kind educator who is dedicated to watching her students achieve, making sure none of them are left behind and supporting them during times of self-doubt. Her teaching style is thorough and is backed by her encouraging and caring nature. It can be time consuming to listen to recordings of long interviews for just a few lines, so using shorthand can be an absolute lifesaver to get the comments you need for your next great story.
I undertook Helen’s Teeline shorthand training course during my cadetship in 2005. With her help I was able to write at 120 words per minute within six months. It is now a skill I use daily and couldn’t report the news without.
All those years ago Helen provided us with audiotapes of her methodical voice reading out passages from Hansard, the transcript of Parliament which is incidentally now second nature to me in political reporting. I remember sitting by an actual tape player at home practising my outlines! Students of today will be lucky to use a more interactive and modern website built on Helen’s same knowledge and teaching approach.
This accessible resource will also make it easier to practice. Learning Teeline can be a frustrating process – no matter how good the teacher – but practice is the key to mastering it.
Even as journalism becomes increasingly digital, it is unwise to rely on audio recordings of interviews alone. It can be time consuming to trawl through a recording for just one quote, there are circumstances where recording is not allowed and technology can fail. Shorthand is an invaluable tool which will always have a place a journalist’s skill set. I’m grateful to have learned it from Helen.
Shorthand is, quite simply, one of the most vital journalism skills I have and my job as a senior reporter would be so much harder without it. I learnt shorthand from Helen Bibbo when I was a young cadet more than 16 years ago. It was a difficult skill to learn but she was a kind, thoughtful and experienced teacher, who cared deeply about her students and their successes (myself included). I would have no hesitation in recommending Helen to anyone interested in learning shorthand and would implore any aspiring journalist wanting to crack a job to learn it.
Helen Bibbo is an incredibly gifted teacher. She is one of those warm, amazing educators that you admire and respect your entire life. Even 23 years after learning shorthand with her, I still use it regularly as a professional journalist. Her approach is simple, methodical and precise. I have even copied her approach to teach primary school students how to write shorthand after just 30 minutes. In my opinion, there’s none better than Helen.
Helen Bibbo was an exceptional teacher in shorthand while I was completing my journalism degree at the University of South Australia. Her patience, understanding and support was extended not only to me, but all of my peers. The tools I learnt from Helen on how to master shorthand have been invaluable to my career as a journalist. Shorthand is a skill that may take a while to master, but with the encouragement and advice from Helen, it can be achieved. Since leaving university I have gone on to work in a major metropolitan newspaper and still to this day use shorthand. I credit Helen’s teaching skills for my ability to still use the writing method in a technology focused world.
Learning shorthand is, at times, like learning a foreign language – and Helen is the native speaker you want as a teacher. Her methodical, interesting, information and fun method of teaching took me from a rudimentary knowledge of the technique to 120 words a minute, with 99 per cent accuracy, in just six weeks. That was 19 years ago – every day since, through to today, I’ve used what she taught me to chronicle everything from serial killings to tax-evading ninja clans, from a victim’s heartbreaking story to a doomsday cultist’s crazed proclamation, from political intrigue to one-on-ones with my personal heroes. Helen’s lessons gave me the ability to be flexible, to take shorthand while listening to anyone – regardless of their role, position or manner of speaking – without hesitation or self-doubt. Her teachings are at the very foundation of the career I continue to enjoy.
In 1995, as a mature-age cadet journalist at Adelaide’s The Advertiser, one of the stiffest challenges I faced was mastering the requisite speed of 120 words-per-minute in shorthand. I was fortunate enough to be taught by Helen Bibbo, whose teaching style was simple and intuitive. It took about six months to go from never having seen this strange language to mastering the 120 wpm that we had to attain before being graded.
Helen’s technique was not only first class, but her manner was kind but just firm enough.It is testament to her abilities that over a quarter of a century later, in this age of automatic transcripts and digital recordings, I still fall back on my shorthand which has endured throughout.
You know those teachers who have such an influence on your life that you always remember them? Helen Bibbo is one of those teachers.
I met Helen when I was a 20-year-old cadet journalist at The Advertiser newspaper in Adelaide. Helen had the unenviable task of delivering Teeline lessons to eight ambitious cadets, who just wanted to get out the door and write their first front page stories. But she did it with the good humour – and success – that only a truly gifted educator can muster.
I hated shorthand. The goal of achieving a speed of 120 words per minute seemed impossible. The frustration of getting to two minutes and forty-five seconds in a three-minute test and then losing pace was maddening. Not being able to read and transcribe your own squiggles to pass the test was even worse.
But Helen’s genuine interest in those hieroglyphic-like outlines made it difficult not to appreciate this strange language.
Also, I figured that if I worked hard to pass shorthand quickly, I wouldn’t ever have to sit the dreaded three-minute test again. I was right – sort of. Starting from scratch, I achieved 120 words per minute in ten weeks. I pressed on a bit further to get 130 words per minute for good measure, before stopping shorthand classes – except for the occasional speed-check – and an excuse to chat to Helen.
Because like any great teacher, Helen is a tremendous support.
I used Teeline as a journalist for everything from press conferences to court cases, to interviewing cricketers and politicians. I’ve used shorthand in Antarctica and Athens, Canberra and Coober Pedy. I’ve scrawled it in notebooks, on beer coasters and on the back of ATM receipts. I’ve used Teeline in my later careers in government, consultancy and marketing. Now I’ve come full circle to study at University again, and I still use shorthand (albeit a little rusty) in lectures.
Sure, I’ve got a voice-recorder on my phone like everyone else and there are electronic transcription services at my fingertips. But there are many times that I still rely on Teeline. It makes me laugh that I can still remember the correct outlines for words like `accident’, `order’, `interjecting’, `Parliament’ and `Commonwealth’. That’s a pretty good indicator that I had a great teacher, who made this skill stick.
If you have the chance to be taught by Helen, take it. She’s one of the best.