Welcome. In the Spring of 1974, when I was a struggling teacher of English in a North London comprehensive school, a boy "bunked off" my lesson. I found that he couldn't read at all, and that no-one was doing anything about it. The rest of this site follows from that. The techniques and ideas are free for anyone to use, and I'm happy to help anyone who gets in touch, with no charge. Some parents who would otherwise be happy to pay contribute to A Book of My Own, a small charity that provides books for children in care, and for those who otherwise would not have their own books.
Conference presentations, 2015. (click on title for details)
The biggest change is that we feel we can do it. That we are capable of understanding. It's like a whole world is being decoded for us... we are light years ahead of where we previously were... and it's nice to be made to feel intelligent, to be praised. I'm starting to believe... Two pupils from Falkirk, Scotland, aged 11 and 12, after three lessons in French, English and basic arithmetic. See The Falkirk Lessons, side menu. Featured at Sunday Times Wellington College Festival of Education, 2015.
These lessons are free, worldwide, via skype and webex. If you have a child who needs help with English, languages or maths, or are a teacher looking for support, please check out the postings on this site and get in touch by email. A parent, grandparent, teacher or foster carer must sit in on each lesson. I have the usual UK safeguarding certificate for teachers.
Comments from course members...
I have tried out a couple of your ideas so far this week and have been really impressed by the results. I got a year 6 French class to check their own work and then a friend's before handing it in to me and it was amazing the difference that bit of time made to what I then received. I have also stopped writing things on the board for them to copy, rather looking at words if in French or discussing English words with a very bright Y6 RE class before them writing the things down, already the standard of their writing has gone up!
Lots of interesting information that has stimulated a lot of thought about teaching children with dyslexia.
It couldn’t have been more useful – I feel inspired, empowered and have follow up support!
following demonstration lessons...
A master at work... Secondary teacher, Harlow.
Brilliant - I've never seen a response like that to French before. Primary deputy head, Hackney.
They*re really learning it! Primary headteacher, Hackney.
Fabulous. Primary teacher, Basildon.
...we will have some intellect. The late Tricia Okoruwa, Director of Education, Hackney.
You are a great teacher. The late Michel Thomas, following a demonstration of sentence building using Clicker.
We've noticed an increase in attainment in German and French, particularly in writing. Head of department, Bedfordshire.
I never cease to marvel at the miracles John Bald regularly performs at the centre, and how the children run from school to see him. Val Hedge, Tiptree Family Centre Annual Report, 1993
Gifted teacher - that's the category I'd place you in. Voluntary Dyslexia Organiser, Basildon.
Perhaps you don't fully comprehend the effect that you have on everyone that comes to you for help and the respect you command. KM.
from parents and pupils...
My daughter G. has always had trouble with her English and particular her spelling. We were put in touch with John Bald by a mutual friend and he coached my daughter in spelling remotely. His teaching methods and techniques were amazing and we could not believe the improvement in such a short period of time. My daughter achieved an A* in her English Language and English Literature which was quite an unbelievable achievement. LH
...a life-changing breakthrough for both of my daughters..KF
...the children (after third lesson) were ecstatic...the intellect is developed quite naturally without being forced. It feels like very important work we are doing here...KF More here.
...the improvement seems to me to be miraculous Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood and many other books, Times Educational Supplement.
You're just a naturally gifted teacher...her linguistic education will be thanks to you. Dr BW
Really great to see how you make all this work. Just amazing. Her face lit up when she heard we were coming to see you (after lessons over the internet). CR, Mallorca.
Amazing...you have opened a door. She's really pleased with herself after a lesson. PH, Greece.
...like turning a key. JR
M. is doing better. We were just talking about you last week. She enjoyed your lessons and it really made a difference... CR, Mallorca, parent of 9 year-old assessed as severely dyslexic, after six sessions over the internet.
I would like to offer both my extreme gratitude and appreciation for the work that you have recently been doing with a 7 year old pupil from my Key Stage 2 class. Accepting that this work is really in its very early stages, a wide range of people (teachers, TAs and parents) have all commented upon a marked improvement already. The young man is beginning to read far more fluently, he now reads words rather than battling with letters and sounds in each and every word encountered. This in itself is enabling him to start reading for meaning. Above all, I am stunned by the effectiveness, relevance and sheer simplicity of your approach. It requires no specialist resources - simply an appropriate book, a mini white board and/or set of magnetic letters. (after lesson 1) Jodi Storey, Kettlewell School, following a lesson via skype.
Thanks for today - as ever - X. (student teacher) was bowled over...YOU CERTAINLY DO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND DO IT WELL! (Jodi Storey, after lesson 4)
She's loving it (German). It means a lot to M. and me. GF
Thank you for teaching me German over the past year. I'm very grateful. LF
When we went home, he read a whole book, including the difficult words...amazing...amazing. IAB, parent of eight year old, initially a non-reader, after second lesson.
It's given us hope...This pupil's father, after six months.
You make it fun... JG
Thank you for a wonderful lesson today. We all love the way you teach French. I am learning things that my French (French) teacher didn't tell me when I was at school!
You teach French the way it is actually used versus some antiquated, formal version that doesn't pass muster when one actually comes to spend time there (I found this out through painful experience!). The children are noticing a natural, easy understanding that is developing in a logical way. Building blocks are given from which they can construct and build sentences and express their thoughts. I notice parallels here with the great Michel Thomas. It is also very motivating for them to notice the roots of words and just how many and how often French words are shared with English. There are now starting to 'have a go' in conversations with me whereas before they would've lacked the confidence. Also, you have very cleverly brought in the reflexive, the negative and some key useful phrases which makes them feel more competent. I left school never truly understanding the reflexive! KF
His teacher came round today and told me he'd got Level 4a in Maths, and Level 4 in English. (pupil had not known 2x table at age of 10) SB Update 5/5/15 - Level 5c in Maths, 4a English. Update after SAT results, 23/08/15. Pupil achieved L4 in maths, a good result from his starting point, and L3 in English, which seems accurate and an indication of the work that is still to be done. We've made a start.
and from Sir James Rose, educational adviser to the Blair and Brown governments, quoted with his permission:
Well done, John. More of these success stories, with such a strong endorsement from parents, should be made available.
and after second comment from KF
What can I say - hardly possible to get a better testimony than that!
Note: While the LH case seems too good to be true, it really happened as the parent describes. The student is one of the highest-attaining young people in the country, and every other aspect of her work was already at A*. Previous attempts by the school to tackle the problem involved the usual error of going right back to the beginning, which G found useless and mildly insulting. She told me during the lessons - there were just two of them, by telephone - that she enjoyed being taught using my approach. Explaining spelling in the terms set out below appears to have removed a block and so boosted confidence in other areas of the subject.
At a recent training course, a teacher who had been assessed as dyslexic described her frustration at having been given, as a teenager, the task of arranging the alphabet in a circle and learning it, even though she already knew it. I fully understand and sympathise. Most teaching techniques used by the semi-official bodies concerned with dyslexia reflect a blinkered and ignorant approach to teaching that has no basis in research, and in particular no basis in either brain research or a modern understanding of English. This ignorance is too often backed by authority.
Across the English-speaking countries of the world, children are failing in school in such huge numbers that people have come to expect it. No-one wants this situation, and governments spend billions of pounds trying to tackle it, to very little effect.
Educational failure is unnecessary. Current brain research, including the work of the British Medical Research Centre's Applied Psychology Unit and Nobel Prizewinner Eric Kandel's In Search of Memory, is showing us what happens as we learn, and giving us the knowledge and understanding we need to promote effective learning for everyone. Put simply, our brains consist of billions of cells that make contact with each other, building networks and connections that are the basis of memory, thought and mind. What builds these networks, builds success. Whatever we do that does not do so, impedes it.
The teaching outlined on this site is based on building neural networks and is highly effective. It is free to individuals, and a parent (or grandparent), sits in on every lesson with children, so that they can follow up the work between lessons. For older children and adults, lessons can sometimes be given via skype, or telephone.
Books and reviews
I've written two books, Using Phonics to Teach Reading and Spelling (Sage) and The Literacy File (available from me). The Teaching Assistant's Edufax publication may be downloaded free, here. Reviews on this site represent my honest opinion. I have no financial connection with any publisher, and there is no paid content. The site has received over 135,000 visits.
I have extensive and highly successful experience of training teachers and assistants in literacy (including dyslexia), languages and basic mathematics. All training is closely matched to your needs. I offer specialist advice on staff appointments, contracting and legal matters, where my experience includes work with the late George Carman QC. From 2010-15, I was a member of the English Department for Education's Expert/Reference group on teacher training, and of its ministerial steering group for languages . I was technical adviser on languages to the Hackney Learning Trust during the same period, andof an advisory training group, based at the French Embassy. My notes on small-scale research have been circulated by the National College for Teaching and Leadership. I am an invited member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for languages, the Teaching Schools review of language teaching techniques, and the steering group for the Extending Mandarin project.
My work was featured at the Sunday Times/Wellington College Festival of Education in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
2012 Presentation Download Eliminating-failure-in-language-learning-2
2013 Presentation: Download Helping your child with spelling.
This conference was sold out. Course members asked for notes on assessing languages without using NC levels. These are here.