Shorthand classes.

Happy Friday to all:
I am toying with the idea of giving shorthand classes at the local Recreation Dept. facilities.  I was thinking of 2-3 days per week, 60-minute classes, beginners, refresher, and dictation.  My question is this:  If I’m able to get some interest going and people want to enroll – how much should I charge them?  I live in a country town with many schools and one college.  I was thinking maybe the high school kids and college kids might be interested in learning Gregg for college notes, etc.  Besides none of them know what it is, and they just might think it’s “cool”. 
Would appreciate all thoughts.
Thanks, all.

(by mountainmaningerogia
for everyone)

29 comments Add yours
  1. What are other classes charging that this Recreation Dept has?  Maybe you can get an idea from that… Will the supplies (textbook at least) be included in the cost?  if so add that and mention it.  If not, you need to consider that for the students (and mention additional books needed, in the class listing). What would people there be willing to pay?  Would they go for a higher price class or not?   Sorry not much help, but classes can very.  Debbi

  2. Thanks for the thoughts.  I'll call the rec dept and ask what other instructors are charging.  You're right about the texts.  If I do this, I think I'll get the texts and include that in the price.  That would be easier than leaving it up to them to get the books.  The trick is, how to present it.  I want it to be relaxed, not the stringent training most of us went through years ago.  That was real stenographic training.  I think I'll present it as more of a personal tool than a high-speed skill.  In any case, thanks for your input.  It is much appreciated.  

  3. There's a series of "individual" study books — for DJ and S90 — and I think also for Anny. Don't know for Simplified, thought. The Anny book series was published by US military and sometimes appears on e-bay.   The book covers the principles much faster than the college and high school texts do.   Also, has some "instructors" manuals for DJ and S90, which might give you ideas on how to present concepts.   sidhe 

  4. Thanks guys for the input.  I think I'll teach Simplified with a few Ann'y bits thrown in.  I believe the only text (new and unused) that I can get is Gregg Shorthand Manual Simplified from Amazon.  If I go ahead with this, I really don't want to give the students "used" texts.  I have a good text I got some time ago called METHODS OF TEACHING SHORTHAND AND TRANSCRIPTION (Gregg), and I can use it as a rough guideline.  I hope I get some people interested in this.  I'm going to place an ad in the local newspaper.  If I get at least 5-10 people interested, then I'll go ahead with it.  I'll just have to wait and see. Thanks again for the input.  

  5. I believe you made the right choice. Only the Simplified Manual is available pristine and off the press. The theory is clearly presented and Radar's written shorthand is excellent.

    Should any of your students desire to attain faster speeds, most of the Simplified series is available (used) from Amazon, still at reasonable prices.

    And if they've learned Simplified (as I did in high school), they will have no problems using the Anniversary Manual and 3rd Edition Speed Studies to adapt their writing to the version I consider the best of all the Gregg variants … (however I have added quite a few 1902 and 1916 shortcuts which caught my fancy – I really enjoy the extended phrasing and the disjoined supplementary word-beginning and word-endings)

    Please keep us informed of how it's going with your classes … I'm also considering doing the same thing but if I do I want to start while the Simplified Manual is readily available.

  6. Don't be discouraged if it takes a while to get any interest. It strikes me as something that takes a while to get from "Interesting, I might take it some day" to "Now is the day". I'm the contact for the local storytelling guild. Half the calls are from people who have seen our ads for *years*, and just want to come listen.

    Do demonstrations, formal and informal. It will get people talking. Give out business cards and flyers. Emphasize all its uses. Here it has the image of low-income old-fashioned, pre-women's lib secretary.

    Think of each age group. Seniors and young seniors. High school students in both streams. Re-employment (although they usually want to learn computers). Arts and crafts groups. Stay-home Moms. Libraries. Any networking group. Toastmasters.

    High school students usually think they have enough to learn just with schoolwork. Same for the college kids. (Hah! Wait till they join the real world and see what learning really means!) Still, well-worth advertising there anyways — start them thinking about it.

    Does the Rec Dept have a catalog? What about the school board and college's continuing education program?

    You might have more luck with one lesson a week. It's easier to fit in the students' schedule. It might make a neat March Break or summer course.

    Could students bring in samples of what they'd like to be able to write? That would keep their interest more than 1940's business letters, and get them used to winging it. You won't have the time to get them good enough that they won't need to wing it. It would also tell you what that group wants to learn.

    (Gregg Simplified 2nd Edition Chapter 6 says "If you had to, you could construct a satisfactory outline for any word in the English language after completing Lesson 31". That's about half the book, and makes a natural break between basic and advanced, although in yesteryear that would be half a course.

    (Anni claims that after the first chapter (of 12) you can write 42% of the running words in non-technical English.)

    Summarizing on the fly might be a good addition to the course. It cuts down on the words that need to be written, and I think it's more useful than dictation.


    I just got The Story of Gregg Shorthand, edited by Leslie, compiled from notes and speeches by Gregg. A great book! (And for $4 to ship with another book, a great deal!) The first part is filled with short anecdotes from all eras of the history of shorthand, including a quote from Dickens about transcribing an important speech during a frantic overnight ride to the printer, and some of the competition between systems. It emphasizes that these anecdotes can make the class much more interesting, although I can see that working both ways. It also has Basic Principles of Gregg Shorthand (minus the anti-Pittman bits, since the editor decided they were no longer useful) and a lot of advice on teaching. The pre-women's lib, low-income, low-education female stenographer is actually very recent.

  7. Hey guys – what great ideas and input – VERY much appreciated!!  I really like the idea of asking them to bring in samples of what they would like to be able to write.  It definitely would give them more of an interest base than, as you mentioned, the usual letters, etc.  I have some literary speed tapes of varying speeds from one of the court reporting schools.  The content is very interesting – ALOT of wonderful vocabulary that the traditional texts never touched upon.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I really want to make this more relaxed than we were trained — again, not gearing it towards the traditional stenographic career, but more as a personal tool that's "cool".  Which I might use in the ad "a cool tool".  Might work – you never know.  If this all pans out – what do you all think about speeds.  Should I shot for 100, or do you think that's too much speed for a "personal tool" approach?  I also thought to make it more interesting I'd research some famour actors and actresses that have used shorthand as a means to an end.  I'm also a movie buff, so I know a bunch of movies where shorthand is depicted – of course, they're older films, but it'll add an interesting slant to the learning process.  Well, that's it for now.  Again, thanks so much for all the great suggestions and encouragement.  I usually check this site at least once a day, so anymore thoughts will certainly not go un-read.  

  8. Many issues of The Gregg Writer had feature articles of Hollywood and Broadway stars as well as professional and political men who got their jump start from stenography. Did you know that in the '40's Battista paid a personal visit to Dr. Gregg and was interviewed for the magazine … he attributed some of his military rise to his shorthand ability! Hmm, do you think Fidel ever learned shorthand? I know that he was an extra in one of the Red Skelton/Esther Williams technicolor spectaculars in the '40's.

  9. Another thought.  Awards.  If you're shooting for speeds, you could do what they did way back when.  They gave pins for specific speeds.  You could just print up a paper certificate (easy to find a template on the web).  Maybe in 10 wpm incriments.  Start with 40 or even go down to 20 so they see some progress and have something to shoot for.   Practice your shorthand in public.  This gains interest too, then you can hand them a business card or flyer for the class.   And I like the idea of making it less of a low-income female type skill. Maybe you could say something like   Shorthand–not just for secretaries Although secretaires can use it. Great for students to take notes in class Secret diaries you can keep hidden. Write your novel in shorthand while on the train and then type up at home. Write down your preacher's serman in church.   Or whatever other reason you can think of… Those are some reasons I've read on this board.  Debbi PS: Ify ou need an idea for business card, check out gregg group cards.pdf, this is for this group and is in the documents section.

  10. When Isaac Asimov went to the draft office they needed typists, so he never left the country. I don't think he did shorthand, though.

    Based on the following, I think 50wpm would be useful. I'm at 50 for practised passages, and find it's past the "draw vs writing" stage.

    20wpm Average neat handwriting (This would be fun to confirm in the first class)
    20wpm Basic Typing high school credit in 1981 (we took 8 1-credit courses spread over a year. I almost failed.)
    40wpm Average fast handwriting (Again, fun to confirm)
    40wpm Entry typing job
    85wpm First high school shorthand course (I've seen it quoted, but I don't remember if that's 4 or 8 months, and how many hours a week that would be.)
    100wpm Very rough estimate for storytelling or school speech. Most people try to squeeze too many words into a set time, and then get nervous and go even faster, so I give this as a guideline.
    100wpm Required for UK journalist program.
    120wpm I vaguely remember this as entry level stenographer
    225??? Certified court reporter

    Typing and shorthand contest winners would also be interesting.

    I'd be curious how fast newscasters talk. I suspect different shows would be different.

    Again, with proper use of summarizing and outlining, you can make it even more useful. It's faster to read back, too, since half of what people say is filler or repetition.



  11. Oh  you could do a contest… maybe who finishes a certain wpm by the end of the first class…   Maybe keep a chart and put it up every class and add to it at the end (instead of the certifcates maybe?)    20pm 40wpm  60wpm   Debbi        Cricket                       Maybe even add up the wpm for the class… ?  So it would be 100 wpm or maybe not… Debbi

  12. Gahhh, I hate charts like that. (And I'm only at 50wpm.)

    I know they're motivating for some kids, but for the rest?

    The ones out front don't need a lot of motivations.

    The ones behind either don't care, or it's just rubbing their nose in the fact that they're not as good, and telling all their classmates at the same time.

    My son's class math drill results are graphed. The entire class knows that 5 questions in one minute is average — even though the teacher says they should do 10.

    I did see one I liked, but only as a parent. I always checked the grade 1 (age 6) "books read" chart when I went in, so my kid stayed "average". Meanwhile, everyone felt sorry for A, who read none (recently immigrated and no one in the family speaks the language), and knows that B will be the A+++ student winning all the awards.

    Just my five cents.

  13. Mountainman, you may also consider offering the beginner's class in two parts. If you look at the Simplified book, out of the 70 lessons, the theory is covered in 45 lessons, and given that you want to keep it relaxed, it would be a little heavy for one course. The second course could be a combination course: start with a refresher and finish with the additional principles not taught in the first course. In that way, if there are any DJS or S90 students that would register for a refresher, they would not only get refreshed, but would learn Simplified in the process.

    The dictation course can be a speed building class, and you can add additional principles here as well from Anniversary, or expert shortcuts. Hopefully, the people that register for this class should know theory really well so that you can concentrate on speed practice, and no harm is done by learning new brief forms or shortcuts.

    Just my 2 cents.

  14. Thank you all for all your generous responses and suggestions.  I appreciate the time you all took to response and offer help.  I still have my doubts that this will really work.  But, then again, it just might.  Remember, this is a fairly small country town, although growing all the time.  The most important thing is that if there are actually beginners who want to learn, I will be presenting this as a personal tool, rather than the stenographic emphasis that was placed on us older people when we were originally trained.  In any case, this will definitely be an interesting endeavor.  If there are any North Georgia people on this site who are interested, let me know.  I'm up near Helen. Again, thank you all for such great ideas.

  15. I've been asking around town very informally about the interest in shorthand classes.  No surprise – not much.  One of the store clerks I'm fairly friendly with said that with all the "stuff" online that is available, why bother doing a class.  If someone really wants to learn, they can just go online and do it in the privacy of their own home and at their convenience.  She has a definite point, but I'm still going to keep the informal canvasing going before placing the ad. Thanks again, everyone, for your input.  

  16. Well a few points in having a class motivation to work on your shorthand, at your own pace you can take years, in a class you can learn quicker and have a goal and deadline to learn something support from an experienced, knowledgable teacher no guessing at outlines, help available at the class in person seeing the shorthand written by the teacher (this was emphasized teachers to do in teaching manuals) live dictation and probably others. Debbi

  17. Wow, Mountain Man.  That is so cool that you're thinking of teaching shorthand!  Our Recreation Dept. in my medium-sized town sets its own prices.  A month of once-per-week bellydance classes, for example, is $45.  You definitely will not get rich, but I'd bet at least some of the highschoolers, young college students, and returning students (my age!) would be interested in learning shorthand for note-taking.   When I learned shorthand in the early 1980's, I took 2 evening classes per week at Briarcliffe Secretarial School.  I think each class was 1-1/2 or 2 hours long.  The Catharine Gibbs school also offered shorthand at that time, but it was more intensive (3 nights per week) and more expensive.  People are so busy today, I'm not sure they'd be interested in 3 classes a week.   Back in the 1970's, one of my high-school pals took DJS specifically so she'd be able to take notes efficiently in college.  Maybe today's students would be interested in shorthand as an alternative to trying to bring a laptop to class.    I still use my DJS at work and it to write down bellydance homework.  Yes, we actually have homework!  I'm also the official "writer-down of choreography", which I then post on our group site for everyone.  :o) Alison   Bravo to you for thinking of teaching, I think it's great!  –Alison

  18. Everything Debbi said. It took me 25 years to reach 50wpm through self-study.

    Do the ads anyways. The class will be small, so you won't need to book a big room in advance.

    What about a 1-day taster? I know it's not ideal for learning shorthand, but it may be easier for your students to fit into their lives. You'd have to choose a very basic subset, but it's doable, even if less common sounds are left out. Give them your number, so next year they can call about the next course.


  19. How about a free demonstration course?  You show them some outlines on a board, you take dictation from a recording to show them your speed… maybe ask them what outlines they would like to see in Gregg and write them, just one per student, you can do more in the class… inbetween explain the usefulness of Gregg.

  20. Hey guys, thanks so much for all your suggestions and thoughts.  I like the idea of the free demonstration.  I have a lot to take into consideration with all your great ideas.  It's true that learning in a class is a good thing – there's that component of competition which is also a good thing, and live dictation is another factor I didn't think of.   I just took it for granted that I would be doing the dictations.  In all my stenography classes, the teachers ALWAYS dictated, we never had pre-recorded stuff.  Anyway, I'll keep you all up-to-date with what's going on. Thanks again all.  

  21. Take dictation from a recording at a demo? Give them a novel or ask them to bring one of their own, and ask them to read one line per so many seconds from a random page. It will be a lot more impressive.

    Grabs random paperback. Average 10 words / line. Publishers probably vary. Depending on your carrying ability, you might make it 1/2 line per time unit so they don't do all 10 words in 1 sec, then pause for 9. Yeah, an extreme example. Us engineers always check the boundary conditions first; it can safe a lot of hairy math. Would asking for a list of proper names be cheating?

    You've started us thinking. Beware, the avalanche probably isn't over. As Mom used to tell me, you don't have to take any of the advice I give you.


  22. I like the idea of them dictating to you. The recorded dictation ides is so you can have the WPM before it so they can see how fast you can go and accurately read it back.   Recorded dictation would work for homework.  That's what we did in my speedwriting shorthand class.  We had tapes that we took home to practice with.  With our class being only 2 hours for 2 nights a week, that's not a lot of time to practice.  And we did have some live dictation from our teacher.  Usually we were on our own schedule, because the class just continued on, say Fall semester someone started, continued into Winter semester and someone else started Winter semester.  She just keep the same class together since it was so small.  This way if 15 were in her class in the fall, 5 dropped, and 5 enrolled in winter, she still had 15 (I think the minimum was 10 students to even have a class).  So we only did a little bit of live dictation but mostly worked on our own.  Then she would help us as needed and dictate to us once in a while.  But having a class helped because then we would go with our "homework" done to turn in and work on the next lesson.  Plus we were in a typewriter room (yes they still had a few of those then) and we could transribe there if we needed to.  She did dictate live mostly to the advanced or students finished with the book. Debbi  

  23. For a mixed class like Debbie had, they can do what they did in one-room schoolhouses. The students helped each other. They still do that here. The older "reading buddy" gets practises reading out loud. The younger kid gets read to, and someone to practise with. Win-win.

    With adults, any level can dictate to any level. Reading anyone's work is good practice. Anyone who has finished the theory can review another's work. Reviewing a beginner's work gives a good review of the theory. Reviewing an advanced student's work gives ideas for shortcuts. By "marking", I mean reading critically and pointing out problems, not marking for the report card.


  24. Love the idea of others helping others!  I don't think we did that in our class, we just sort of worked on our own.  And I've always been in a big class otherwise, so I don't know much about one room school houses…   Oh, that reminds me, from a TV show, the kids would read out loud in front of the other kids and you could have the students read their shorthand outloud and the rest follow along in their books.  As Cricket said, the beginners can learn quicker and the advanced can review (I often review my Book One for Anniversary).  This also gives you a chance to see where they are at and if the entire class needs help with something.  Although now I'm thinking about it, maybe just reading to each other unless some want to, I'm not much for reading in front of people. Debbi

  25. It's a balance for the teacher. That's why younger reading buddies are so great. The little kid doesn't know that every other grade 6 can read the book perfectly.

    If done right, it can be equalizing. If everyone else stumbles, then you don't feel like an idiot.

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