Senin, 25 November 2013

Raw Beginners

The text is addressed to those with no knowledge of shorthand, the JPGs are there to keep everyone else gainfully occupied ...

Raw Beginners - Part 1 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot
Road Narrows sign
Narrow your focus
If you are a raw beginner about to learn shorthand, I think it is very likely that you will be learning at home from a book, without the luxury of having a shorthand teacher to direct your studies. I did learn in a classroom situation, over the course of one college year, and so I would like to pass on to you what I learned from my excellent teacher. When you have mastered something and have many years of it behind you, it is easy to think that all the methods are obvious, but learning shorthand is not at all like normal academic school subjects. It is more like learning a language, a musical instrument, sports or dancing, where theory and rules introduce you to the general scheme of things, but after that you must actually do it as much as possible in order to be able to perform it with increasing ease, speed and confidence, and without thought or hesitation. There are three items of kit that you will need to make a start. You must have an instruction book, a notepad and a pen or pencil and I give* the links to my website if you wish to read further on each of these.

* "I go" would need a vowel inserted

Raw Beginners - Part 2 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

4 different instruction books
Take your pick,
same shorthand within
BOOK – Each chapter or unit of the instruction book introduces a point of theory, broken into several single steps with example outlines, and the chapter ends with example sentences and, later on, passages all in shorthand. Sometimes a key book is available, giving transcriptions of the shorthand passages. While not essential, this could be helpful if you wish to easily record your own dictations or get someone to read them to you. Drill books and workbooks are like notepads, printed with lines of shorthand, each followed by three blank lines for you to copy onto. These I feel are not necessary to buy, as it is the easiest thing in the world to copy lines from the instruction book into a blank notepad. If you buy a drill book, the cost is a disincentive to use it up quickly, and the serious student should be filling piles of them as quickly as possible.

Raw Beginners - Part 3 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

3 x notepads
Good pads for dictation, work
& exams, cheap brick-sized
for practice and drilling
NOTEPAD – This should ideally be top spiral bound, so that you can flick the page over rapidly. If you must use lined A4* paper through necessity at times, then rule or cut it vertically in half, so the line lengths are similar to the average notepad. Narrow vertical spacing of the printed lines is not helpful, as your shorthand will get cramped. You will do yourself a favour if you can be choosy about the quality of the paper and you should test it with your chosen pen or pencil before buying in quantity – for ease of writing, and also for bleed-through if you are using ink. Bleeding doubles the cost as you can only use one side, and sometimes marks also go through to the next page, something definitely to be avoided. Please see my Print Your Own Notepad, where you can produce exactly the right size and spacing of lines on printer paper of a quality of your own choosing, and this may work out cheaper for practising purposes. For real life shorthand work and exams, though, you will need a proper* top spiral notepad.

*A4 in longhand would probably be just as quick to write

* "Insert vowel in "proper" and the diphone in "appropriate" to help distinguish between these two

Raw Beginners - Part 4 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Noodlers Flex Pen and pencil
Pen is best for speed, pencil is
more convenient for practising in public
(This is Noodler's Konrad Flex)
PEN OR PENCIL - An HB or B pencil will serve well, and if any harder than these it will not produce the thick strokes without serious digging of the paper which slows you down. Softer leads will wear down far too quickly. The best implement is a fountain pen with a flexible nib, and using ink will make a big difference to speed of writing and ease of reading your notes. There is no time during dictation to sharpen a pencil, advance a worn-down or snapped lead, or change a cartridge. However, a manually filled fountain pen can see you  through many hours of continuous writing.

Raw Beginners - Part 5 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Large and pocket dictionariesDICTIONARY - Although the three items above will get you started, you are at some point going to need a shorthand dictionary. You could finish the instruction book just using all the outlines they give, but even before that you might want to remind yourself of an outline already met with, without having to flip through the chapter pages to find where it occurred. The largest dictionary will accompany you through an entire lifetime of shorthand writing, but the small pocket dictionary may serve you better to begin* with, as it is more portable and quicker to consult. There is the temptation to want to use new words not specifically given in the instruction book before all the theory has been covered, and having a dictionary will avoid incorrect guesses. I would say that this is an inefficient way of going about learning. Giving priority to completing theory, using only the outlines given, is more important and a better use of your time until the book is finished.

* "to begin" written through the line, based on the phrase "to be"

Raw Beginners - Part 6 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Take A Break sign
Little and often
gives best results
There are also three other things that are needed as well to ensure success – invisible inside your mind, but necessary – and these are Decision, Determination and Timetable. The decision is a dividing line between thinking about it and actually committing yourself. Determination will provide the energy to carry out the decision. A timetable keeps you on track, with the satisfaction of getting you ever nearer to your desired goal at an even rate. It can be as flexible as you like, but without it you might drift off and let other things crowd out your good intentions. Short study or practise sessions at frequent intervals are best, as they keep the momentum going and prevent you from having to spend too much time recapping when you should be moving forward. Lengthy sessions with long periods of nothing in between can be rather daunting and can attract excuses why you should not start it just yet – a bit like clearing out the garage!

Raw Beginners - Part 7 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Man Digging road sign
Get stuck in
You are now sitting at your desk with the book, a pad and a pen. Each chapter consists of several related pieces of theory. Read the first piece and then write the outlines presented, at least three times each, saying them out loud to yourself as you write. You need to hear and associate all the spoken sounds with their outlines. Keep the pressure light and do not stop at the angles between strokes – you are writing, not drawing. Read the practise sentences several times until you have gained familiarity with the outlines. Then write them out, and read back from your own notes. As soon as you can, write the matter from the spoken word. An alternative* is to remember one sentence, look away from the book page, and then say it out loud as you write the shorthand.

* "alternative" can also be written as an intersection, using T + V Hook

Raw Beginners - Part 8 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

New Lines Added shop signYou do not have to perfect your knowledge of each chapter before moving on to the next. The theory and vocabulary in the next section will automatically include what you have just learned, and I can assure you that whilst you are working on the next chunk, the previous one will start to seem rather obvious and get more so as you progress. A few lessons down the line, the first chapter will seem really simple and basic, yet at the beginning you were working hard to master it. Every time you sit down to a session, it is helpful to first skim over the previous section and write out a few of the outlines and read some of the sentences, as your warm-up exercise.

Raw Beginners - Part 9 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Drill pad pages
Prepare in advance: single outlines in margin,
or sentences with blank lines underneath
At the end of each session, you might find it useful to create a few pages of drills, so that you have something to work on in odd moments before your next session. Write some sentences copied from the book neatly down the page, leaving three blank lines underneath each one. To drill you just copy the sentences onto the blank lines. It might be helpful to use a different colour pencil or ink or run a highlighter marker over the sample lines, so that your eye can pick them out easily. The drills are best kept in a separate notepad, firstly so that you can carry it around with you throughout the day and secondly so that you can reuse the sentences for further practice and revision. If you start this habit early on, you will certainly speed up your arrival at the ultimate goal of writing as fast as people speak.

Raw Beginners - Part 10 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Slow road sign
The longhand route
At college we learned all the theory in the first term, and this is a good pace to set yourself. We were expected to read our notes fully at home, as well as do plenty of practise each evening. The rate at which you progress is determined by the time and effort you put into it. It is worth pressing through in the early stages, so that familiarity comes quickly and you can have the satisfaction of using it for real things as soon as possible. As soon as theory knowledge permits you might consider using my Perpetual Calendar which has been created to encourage learners to use their shorthand every day for telephone calls, memos, engagements and diary entries.

Raw Beginners - Part 11 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Crawler Lane road sign
Never again
Everything you achieve in shorthand is a reflection of how much you enjoy the subject, as well as the amount of time spent applying yourself to its study. Shorthand theory can sometimes seem to go on forever, even though you know perfectly well that the book has a finite number of pages! But when you finish that, there is a great sense of freedom that you can now write anything without worrying whether there is some yet-to-be-discovered piece of theory that affects it. Your next task is to increase your vocabulary of outlines and that is done by reading as much correct shorthand as possible - the very purpose of these blogs. Reading is the most efficient way of increasing your skill, as you can assimilate new outlines in large quantities, avoiding the slow process of dictionary leafing and the risky habit of making wild guesses that will have to be corrected later on. Once the theory is all covered, you will want to avail yourself of any other shorthand books that you can get, such as those covering review and phrasing. As usual Ebay UK is the place where these abound.

Raw Beginners - Part 12 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Don't Sit On It, Use It sign
Your smarts, good
sense, nimble fingers and
unwavering determination
Obviously this particular blog is addressed to those who cannot yet read a single word of the shorthand JPGs above. I want to assure you that you can certainly be reading them with ease in three months, if you apply yourself consistently and purposefully. You will be able to take your student or reporter notes with ease, missing nothing, or write that report or book as fast as you can think of the ideas and compose the sentences. You will be able to record speech totally free of reliance on expensive technology and finger-cramping longhand, and yet still have access to these, but at your choice and discretion, and not through necessity. Once you learn something useful, it is almost impossible to imagine not knowing it, and I am confident that your shorthand will be the same, and that writing it will become an easy, pleasant, useful and normal part of your daily life. (1867 words)

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