A SHORTHAND ONLINE COURSE IN BRAZIL THAT IS A BIG SUCCESS

A SHORTHAND ONLINE COURSE IN BRAZIL
THAT IS A BIG SUCCESS
By:  Prof. Waldir Cury
Retired parliamentary reporter and teacher of Shorthand
Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
THE BEGINNING

 In 2004, I prepared a new version of the book “Shorthand, a Swift Way of Writing – Maron System”.  This book was intended as a self-study manual. 
I visited several publishing houses, but no publisher was interested in publishing it, maybe because it would not be commercially advantageous to them.
Nevertheless, the edition of that volume would be extremely important to me as, in my view, it represented a major advance in the methodology of shorthand teaching.
To that new version many changes were made, new explanations were provided, new drills and many new brief forms were added.  For a couple of years I collected every single item that had raised doubts among the students and each received clearer explanations and examples.  Besides that, I added many pictures to the book, in order to make the learning more attractive and exciting since, in my opinion, nowadays a shorthand course must be thoroughly interesting and exciting and in no way boring or monotonous.
WHY A FREE-OF-CHARGE ONLINE SHORTHAND COURSE?
After the refusal of the publishing houses to publish my book,  I spent some days depressed and hopeless.  One day, however, I had a sudden inspiration.  A voice inside me repeated over and over again: “Why don’t you publish your book on the Internet?”  “And why not free of charge?” “If your intention is to make shorthand known, that is the way!”  “Put a shorthand course at everyone’s  disposal!”  “TheInternet is the best way!” “ Voilà!”
I faithfully followed the instructions of my internal voice and published the whole course on my website of shorthand.  A series of changes and improvements followed then, in order to make the course suitable for the new media: the Internet.
To a certain extent, the refusal of the publishing houses could not have been more opportune, because, if they had published the book, the distribution would have been limited to the bookstores and only a limited number of people could have had access to the course.  On the Internet, on the contrary, the “distribution” is unlimited and unrestricted. 
METHODOLOGY AND DIDACTICS USED
When students don’t understand an explanation, the teacher is inevitably expected to improve or change the methodology being used.
 I had that awareness in mind when I prepared the on-line course.  Each lesson, each explanation had to be crystal  clear and pay scrupulous attention to every detail.  The rules had to offer a thorough understanding at first glance! 
For that purpose, I put myself, as a teacher, in the place of the student.  So, I asked myself, during the elaboration of each rule, each exercise, each test to be put on-line: “If I were the student, would I be able to understand what I am trying to explain?  Would I be able to do that exercise or that test easily?”
Furthermore: to assure the success of the shorthand distance learning (a self-study method), I made the answers to all exercises and tests available to the students, so that they could make the corrections needed and test themselves at every stage of their learning.
To make the process of learning even easier, I added many videos with the teacher explaining each lesson and writing each symbol, each word, each sentence in shorthand on the blackboard.  So to say, with the videos, a teacher would “enter the home of the student” and teach him/her “a private lesson”!  What  computer-aided  distance learning could be more practical? 
CONTENTS OF THE COURSE
The whole course consists of two main parts:

1.      LEARNING OF THE SHORTHAND SYSTEM (Maron System)
2.      SPEEDBUILDING
The Learning of the Shorthand System consists of several modules:
Ø      19 modules for the learning of the BASIC SIGNS.
Ø       Each of the 19 modules is divided up into:

·        lesson (signs, rules – theory)
·        additional explanations with examples
·        exercises
·        answers to the exercises
·        tests
·        answers to the exercises
·        videos
Ø      41 modules for the learning of the SPECIAL SIGNS (initial and final abbreviations)
Ø      a list of brief forms
Ø      E-mail is used for communication between students and teacher.
For the Speedbuilding, many special on-line pages containing dictations are  available.  
Ø      The speedbuilding is divided up into 4 levels:
1.      Elementary (20wpm up to 55wpm)
2.      Intermediate (60wpm up to 85wpm)
3.      Advanced (90wpm up to 110wpm)
4.      Advanced Plus (115wpm up to 140wpm)
For a better assimilation and strengthening of the learning of the symbols and the rules of the method, a series of complementary aids are at the disposal of the online students, such as:
ü      A whole page with texts for copying in shorthand (with brief forms and special symbols put in relief)
ü      A “Reading Room”, with literary texts in shorthand
ü      Aesop’s Fables in shorthand
ü      Songs with the words in shorthand (the student can hear the song and read the words in shorthand at the same time)
ü      A periodical website page all in shorthand, called “Shorthand Newspaper”.
ü      Many shorthand dictation videos in different speeds
COURSE ENROLLMENT – Daily AverageTo my amazement, the course has an on-line enrollment average of about 5 to 10 new students a day.  And they come from all educational, social and economic backgrounds.  Workers, students and even people with doctorate level join the course on a daily basis.

THE REACTION OF THE STUDENTS TO THE COURSEJudging by what the on-line students are expressing through their e-mails, the course has become a great success, and I am extremely proud of it.  My mission was accomplished: I have done what I aimed to do: to make the learning of shorthand available to anyone who wants to learn it and has neither teacher nor a school nearby.
MY HOPE
I do hope that many other shorthand teachers will do the same, so that, in a very short time, several other shorthand on-line courses will be easily accessible.
I invite you to take a look AT MY ON-LINE COURSE:
(by Waldir
for group greggshorthand)

4 comments Add yours
  1. Very impressive site, Prof. Cury. I applaud you for your enormous efforts in constructing it, and for making it available to interested learners free of charge. I think you were very wise (and generous) to do so!

    I am curious to know more about the Maron System (which, I gather from a quick google search, was specifically developed for Portuguese). Could you tell us some more about the history of the system and the principles that underlie it? Is there an English language version of your course materials (or discussion of the system)?

    Thanks!

  2. Hi Librum!
    First of all, let me thank you for your kind words.
    Concerning the Maron System, last year, Mr. Hudking (Gregg System), from North Carolina, wrote an e-mail to me, asking me if there was an adaptation of the Maron System to English. I answered there was none and invited him: what about if you try to make one? To my amazement, he accepted the challenge! And we have begun the adaptation in a joint (four-handed) work. I mastered the Maron System, and he, being a native, mastered the English Phonetics.
    I guess we have reached 80% of the adaptation. Unfortunately, Mr. Hudking could not proceed with his efforts and study, because of personal problems.
    Making such an adaptation is beyond my capability – as far as English Phonetics goes. In my opinion, only a native can make an adaptation of a foreign shorthand system. In the case of the English Language, the problem is bigger, if we consider the variety of pronunciations, of sounds that English has. It’s like entering a jungle full of wild animals (laughs!). The vowels, for instance, English has 15 vowel sounds! That is too much for us, Brazilians. We should create new symbols for the new vowel sounds and see if they actually work.
    I will try to enclose herewith the rough draft of the project Mr. Hudkins and I have made.

  3. Hi Librum!
    Unfortunately, I won't be able, as a promised, to enclose the rough draft (many pages) of the project Mr. Hudkins and I have made of the Maron System to English, because I could not find out, neither by searching nor by chance (laughs), how to attach documents here at the forum. It's all very complicated! If you know any supernatural or paranormal way of doing it, tell me…(laughs).

  4. Prof. Waldir's site is excellent. I'd like to see a similar site with an adaptation of Gregg to Portuguese. In the link "Adaptación del Maron al español" we can find an adaptation to Spanish. Portuguese and Spanish have not great phonetic differences – perhaps the only great difference is when we say words with "ão", a very strange nasal sound if you're not used to Portuguese (perhaps as difficult as "th" in "three" for us, brazilians).

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