I have a question about self-dictation with the Simplified manual. How should I go about doing this? Should I be recording dictation of letters from five lessons ago or so? I tried recording dictation (at a grulingly-slow 40wpm) at my current lesson (26) and I ended up getting so far behind that I couldn’t remember what was said (2 or 3 sentences) because I’d get stuck on trying to figure out how to apply what I just learned, which is the tif/tiv/etc and jent/jend/pent/etc blends.

Thanks for any help 🙂

(by niftyboy1 for everyone)

18 comments Add yours
  1. Do not do dictation on any material you have not yet really mastered. Once you are comfortable with those blends you will never forget them. If thet throw you for a loop,  you might want to look at later series (Diamond Jubilee, Series 90, or Centennial) which omit those blends. You might also want to be on the lookout for dictaion tapes and record sets on Ebay, Amazon and

  2. I was apparently mistaken as to what self-dictation is. I thought it was you record yourself speaking a text at a certain speed and then attempt to write it as it plays back. But then on the 3x Shorthand site, there were examples of self-dictation sheets, which were printed lines of words well-spaced that you read and write as you go. How do I do this myself? I don't quite understand the process.

    As for these new blends, they don't give me difficulty. I can read them fine, but when writing them myself I have to stop and think for a second since they aren't internalised yet like other blends are.

  3. The thought at McGraw-Hill was that dictation should NEVER be below 40 words per minute and that, if properly learned, the current lesson could be written at that speed. The thinking was that one could write longhand at that speed so it was a good starting point.

    As for my own opinion, I believe that it is difficult for the beginner to shift from writing longhand to writing shorthand. I'm also a firm believer that repetition is essentail to learning a skill such as shorthand, both with repetitive reading and with repetitive writing. If you record the material, even at a "painfully slow 40" and then can't get it, it may help to go back and read (the old word was "drill") the material five or more times, then try to take the dictation again.

    Yes, self-dictation is an old-fashioned concept, Chuck! I'll agree! But it can still be useful. It takes time to count material and time to dictate it. If you've already got something in your word processor and can just change the line spacing, it's much easier.

    For the record, does anyone use those self-dictation pieces I put out there every month? ANYONE?

    (the guy from ^3)

  4. You simply write into shorthand what is printed on the page — that's what self-dictation used to mean.

    But now with recording devices, you don't need to do that. In fact, what you are doing in terms of taking the stuff that you have studied and recording it, is the way to go. That's how you start getting used to dictation and increasing speed little by little. Start with single sentences at slow speed. Dictate the complete sentence, and write it down, anyway you can. Don't correct mistakes while taking down dictation. Read the sentence back from your shorthand notes. Correct any mistakes, and practice those outlines that you missed. Once you can do sentences, do one minute takes. Repeat the same procedure: taking down as much as you can, anyway you can, and correcting any mistakes after you have completed the dictation. Once you are comfortable at that speed, increase the length — try to do 90 seconds. Go a little longer if you can — see if you can get to 5 minutes. Also, if you are confortable at 40 wpm, try to increase to 50 wpm for a short burst, then come back to 40 wpm.

    Don't get frustrated if you get lost. A sense of the panic comes because the outline is not at hand — is not automatic — so you freeze. You start asking yourself questions — at the wrong time, so your brain wanders! Dictation is not the time when you ask yourself whether the outline is a brief form, if it's written with a blend or not, if it's a joined or disjoined past tense, if it doesn't look that pretty, or whatever. Dictation is the time when you need to take down everything that is said, anyway you can. After dictation is when you correct your mistakes. Go back to the lessons and find out why you are getting stuck. Practice those outlines that don't come easily.

    There is a method, called the pyramid plan, that discusses a way to increase speed. It applies even when you are starting. It is in the documents section.

    I hope this helps.

  5. Chuck did a great job in explaining when you're taking dictation.  I had to learn that too but don't think I could put it as well.   One other tip is that as you're writing an outline and you can't remember the rest during dictation, just write what you can.  I read somewhere, not sure if it's true or not because it does't always help, is to write down anything for everything you hear.  So an  M for mail if you can't remember the rest is suppose to be better then nothing because you may figure out it's 'mail' from the content of the sentence.  Then you can go back and correct those and practice writing those.   Another idea is maybe to copy the lesson twice.  This is how I learned in an actual shorthand class with a teacher (okay it was Speedwriting, but it's still good idea).  Write down the entire lesson down one column of the steno book.  Then go back and copy what you wrote on the next column.  This way you've really learned the lesson.  Another thing I think we did and I still do is write down the word in long hand, then 3-7 times in shorthand (more if you need to, less if you don't).  Leave a space below that.  After writing down all the words in the lesson this way, go back and fill in the space with just the shorthand.  Not only do these ways help reinforce the shorthand outline but it helps you read your own shorthand notes.  Oh we also had to transcribe all that we wrote (the letters part not the individual words).  So yes it was a lot of work.   Debbi

  6. I just discovered today that my local libary has shorthand dictation tape box sets for 40, 60, 80, 100, 120, 140 and 160 wpm! Six tapes in each set, so plenty of practice when I decide I'm ready.   Kevin   P.S. The Dewey Decimal Classification number is 653.424, if you want to check your library.

  7. Lucky!  I have my grandmother's old dictation records, but i don't have a record player to play them with.   Wait a second…come to think of it, I don't have a tape player either.  So who's this Dewey guy, anyway?   ___________________________ Praise the Lord, I saw the light line!

  8. Mr S: it might be fun to buy a turntable — they sell them as novelty items in smart house decorating stores — Restoration Hardware has very retro ones that we used to use in the 60's.   I think it would be great to hear some of the very outdated language, like in some of the shorthand books we are using.   I use (tho not recently) your self-dictation files, Marc. And I've referred people to your site — when they see me writing shorthand they usually want to know more.   I also download short bits from newspapers and make them into self-dictation printouts like Marc does on his website. It can really help you remember trickier outlines if you do them two or three times and check to see you've written everything correctly.

  9. Ah that's the trick, then! Great advice. Thanks Chuck. I'd never attempted to take dictation before, so it was a new experience! I'm a bit better at it now that I'm used to it. Before the problem was that I constantly analyse my outlines and am very, very picky and them being as pretty as possible. I like to think this means my shorthand's not so terrible to look at as if I weren't so prudent, but it did hamper dictation.

    I'm trying to keep that habit only when I'm working on penmanship!

  10. Sidhetaba,

    Thanks for the compliment. I was starting to wonder if anyone even looked at the site (aside from me)!

    At one point, I did want to add recorded dictation, but the price of the software to enable it was ridiculously high. If there's really a demand for the dictation tapes, I'll do them, but the demand has been so UNDERwhelming–maybe 10 inquiries since I brought up the site–I didn't think it was worth it.


  11. I recall being most dissapointed when I saw that the dictation tapes were listed, but not available for sale.  A suggestion if anyone decides to make dicta-records: can they be in CD format please??   __________________________ Go, Speedwriter!  Go, Speedwriter!  Go, Speedwriter, go!

  12. You got it, Nifty. When you practice penmanship is when you can be as picky as you want. But when you take dictation, the name of the game is take everything down, no matter how. Analyze your writing all you want after dictation, not during! Practice good penmanship and review your lessons so that when you take dictation, your notes will still be legible and the outlines will come out right away.

  13. Dictation mp3 files are available at and they are excellent. You get 12 five minute takes for USD 12, which I think is a bargain. This is not an advert, it is telling about my experiences. I will deny any affiliation to the company with my dying breath.   I've recently downloaded a free sound file converter which does a really good job of changing .wav files to mp3 files — which can go in your mp3 player, and take up less space on your hard drive.   To make dictation takes, all you need to do is dictate it into a .wav file (you can use the Sound Recorder from Windows Accessories), and then convert it to .mp3 to condense it.   I find it works really well.   Mr S: Don't you want to listen to the records?  What for do you have them?

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