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Jenny Lamond

The E-S method was developed by Jenny Lamond and is called the Jenny Lamond Method (JLM). But who was Jenny Lamond you may ask?

Born in China to Scottish parents, her early education was at The China Inland Mission School. As a teenager she continued her education in Scotland.
Education was never easy for Jenny, as no doubt she was dyslexic (dyslexia was not-widly know in those days). Consequently, she had to work harder than the other kids to get through school. But Jenny was no ordinary person, she had a keen mind and great determination.
Wanting to help children, she studied to become a teacher. Little did she know that her dyslexic disability would pave the way to help thousands of children and adults.

After qualifying as a teacher, she returned to China to teach. It was not so easy though, as she came to understand that 'the normal’ spelling methods taught by teachers made little sense to students whose native language was not English. In fact, in her memoir, she said she had great difficulty using these methods.

Jenny was never one to give up, and restructured the lessons so that they were:

  • more reliant on sounds (phonics) in the early lessons
  • interesting and fun
  • employing all the senses: listening to the word-sounds, looking to see if it looks correct, and feeling by using drawings and images (kinaesthetic).
  • encouraging students to use their senses for ‘detective steps’, to decode words, thereby teaching themselves, in a manner of speaking.

The methods worked. The kids had fun and looked forward to further lessons.

When Jenny’s time was over in China, she immigrated to Australia and entered the NSW Education Department as a teacher. Some years later, she was co-opted by the Department of Education in Sydney to help investigate the high I.Q. students who were failing in reading and spelling. At that time there were no answers. They may or may not have had learning disabilities. Regardless, they were being left behind, and as a result were feeling lousy about themselves. The following is what Jenny wrote about her first student: 

When I think of David, the first little boy I helped, I am just so ashamed. He came to me for reading because he was far behind. So we read. He just couldn't read. And we read – and he couldn’t read! Well, how crazy was this? I tried for a couple of appointments and then thought, 'This is mad, I'm making him feel worse instead of better; he's got to feel better!' I realised that I was at the wrong end of the whole thing by trying to teach him using the same methods that he had been given by his previous teachers.
So what is the answer? How can we take the pressure off the learner and still develop the language experiences necessary for reading competence? Perhaps by helping the student to synthesise words by listening to their sounds. This means working through spelling. Poor readers are also poor spellers. Spelling ability and reading ability are closely related. While it is true that a good reader may also be a poor speller, a poor reader is always a poor speller.


Jenny Destiny Fulfilled


It was then that Jenny took out and dusted off her fledgling methods she developed in China. There was an instant improvement. Jenny, now fascinated, further developed the methods in the hope of helping as many people as possible, both adults and children.

Wanting to devote all her time to these students, she left NSW Education and continued helping poor readers and spellers on a full-time basis. Her success was so profound, and she had helped so many, that Jenny and her methods gained widespread credibility. She was interview frequently by the media, newspapers and magazines. Jenny was in great demand and was invited to schools all over NSW. She was always delighted when she saw the light in the eye of a child after spelling and reading improvement. It was about this time that Jenny formed the first teachers’ Remedial group in Australia. From this group of dedicated teachers, a tutor training programme was developed to teach the Jenny Lamond Method. It did not take long for over 1,200 individual children and adults to be helped by this method.

Because of her growing reputation, she came to the attention of Paul Whiting (PhD), from the Faculty of Education, University of Sydney, who at the time was in charge of the Dyslexic unit. Dr Whiting wrote:

When I first came across the work of Jenny Lamond, I attended one of her training sessions in remedial reading and spelling for teachers. I went reluctantly, not wishing to reject out of hand a method which I assumed would be old fashion or eccentric. Eccentric it was: eccentric enough to fascinate the children and adults who were learning how to do it. I thought parts of it were silly. So did the children, and they were delighted. It was so different from every approach they had experienced, and yet it did all the important things.
It recognised that it was not the child’s fault that they failed. It recognised that most children and adults who fail to learn to read do so because they cannot easily manipulate the sound symbol system of the English language, with all its complexities. It recognised the importance of multi-sensory approaches in tutoring reading to these children. And it recognised that the only motivation that counts in the end is what educators call 'intrinsic motivation: the motivation that comes from success in doing the task itself.

Those are good principles. Jenny’s method is also based on painstaking analysis of the structure of words in English. This is something which children with problems in reading and spelling have found chaotic and incomprehensible. Jenny’s method is able to introduce students to the English written language as a system which can be understood. Understanding leads to confidence and, ultimately to competence.

There are those who will reject the methods because it appears to be mechanical, and to teach skills out of context. To those people, we should say that the most important context is that of the life experience of the child or adult who is seeking help. That is the context that should first be considered. And for most of these people, their experience of reading is an activity which is to be avoided at all costs. It is stressful and unrewarding in the extreme. To urge therefore that reading itself will provide the best context for remediation is nonsense. That is why Jenny’s method starts with listening and writing, not reading. Only when the student has regained some of the lost self-esteem and confidence in handwritten English is reading context introduced. That is another reason the method is so successful.

Finally, the method is flexible. It is adapted to the needs of the individual student and can be used either as a total reading and spelling program, or as an element in the broader program. It has been used successfully now for nearly thirty years in individual tutoring, small groups and even with whole classes of children. The result is children and adults who feel that they understand how the English orthographic system works. They are willing to 'have a go', are experienced in checking their own work, used to recording what they have learned, and confident about looking up anything that they are unsure about. Most teachers would be delighted to have a class of these 'process' skills.

But like every other successful method, it will be largely dependent on the teacher. Jenny Lamond believes in children. She assumes that they are capable of succeeding, and she communicates that confidence to them. She knows many learning disabilities can be overcome, and she teaches that through her approach. The effect of such an attitude on self-esteem is obvious. In the hands of a committed, enthusiastic teacher who also believes that all children can succeed, this method will work as I have seen it work over the years.

Jenny Lamond was awarded the Order of Australia, the highest civil recognition in Australia, for her service to education. In her memoir she wrote:

At school I was never commended for having top marks, always in trouble for the lack of success at anything to do with letters and words, therefore a failure! Yes, I the author of this program was that child and all I wanted was to understand, so that I could remember by knowing how to 'work it out' and become successful.

My discoveries were to come from my own experience of failure as a child, remembering where and why I failed, and from my knowledge of trends in education during training in Edinburgh. This was to influence my approach later in programming for students. Understanding from the very beginning must be paramount for some students, so success will depend on each progressive step being logical, truly from the known to the unknown all the time. Now for today: still with students experiencing English failure, they are failing to understand from the beginning of their schooling that letters must be interpreted and not just to be looked at.

The E-S website is based on the book that Jenny wrote in conjunction with Paul Whiting Ph.D. The following is from that book:

The tutoring and the book are intended for parents, teachers, and anyone else who wish to help children or adults with reading and spelling problems. It is a practical handbook, setting out in detail a method of applying theoretically sound principles of reading remediation to the needs and abilities of students. Anyone who has a love for children, a desire to help them, and a sensitivity to their responses will be able to use it.

It is a method of tutoring poor readers and spellers who do not understand about written language. Research has shown that deficiencies in comprehension can often be traced to difficulties with processing print itself. A remedial program must begin by replacing faulty habits of hearing and seeing words with reliable ones. Only then can reading be successful.

This method began as an attempt to face the problems typical of remedial situations.

It follows that, if we teach a person to spell, reading ability will almost certainly improve. At the simplest level, once the difference between alphabet names of letters and the sounds made by these letters has been made clear to students, it is possible, with some training, to write any English word that is approximately phonetically regular.

Students of average or better intelligence progress quickly using this method, but it has also been found helpful for students with more severe problems. Though developed as an individual tutoring method, it is adaptable to classroom use and has been used with success, in both infant and primary classes as part of the normal reading program, as well as in special classes as part of a remediation program with primary and secondary grades. Any remedial work is best done individually, but where necessary, can be achieved using small groups (2-5 is the best number). Work with larger groups is difficult because of the individuality of the students' reading problems and their differing stages of development.

Finally, this is a practical program and was developed through practical experience. It will only be fully appreciated as teachers and parents put it into practice, making modifications to suit their own, and their pupils' strength and limitations.

Looking back at Jenny’s material development, it started with the need to teach children English spelling when English was not the native tongue. From there it developed to helping people with learning disabilities. Yet, the methods are the same. We have had wonderful success with people with learning disabilities, and students not native to English. Yet, because of it simplicity and the reading application that we have developed, the course will help just about all students. 

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The Jenny Lamond Method

If you would like to become an accredited tutor of the Jenny Lamond Method, please write to us on the contact us page.



The Jenny Lamond Literacy Foundation (TJLLF)

The TJLLF is a non-profit foundation for the dissemination and tutoring of the ‘Jenny Lamond Method’. Like all businesses, it must remain viable, so it can pay salaries and expenses. However, profit beyond that does not go to shareholders, but goes to supporting the teaching of English spelling and reading in disadvantaged communities world-wide.

If you have a community of disadvantaged people where the learning of English spelling will help their career development and self-esteem, then please contact us to see how we can help you and your community, without charge.

Lastly, Jenny spent the best part of her teaching-life in ongoing research into spelling methods. The TJLLF is a research body where the latest in spelling literacy is developed.

We continue Jenny Lamond's work by offering:
     spelling help for children
     spelling help for adults
     reading help for children
     reading help for adults

For further information on the above, please contact us