Finding a class or teacher, or the next best thing

I’m having another go at learning Anniversary. I began by mostly reading using the two “Functional Method” books by Leslie. But I didn’t keep at it.

Now as well as me doing it, I may have my assistant learn too. (I wish this stuff was still widely taught such that executive assistants came pre-trained in it!). So that may help in sticking with it. But my ideal would be to find a local teacher or at least someone who is experienced, who could meet with us once or twice a week to push forward our practice. Second best would be some kind of well-designed course, split into clear lessons, that the two of us could pursue ourselves.

So, anyone know of actual classes, or a teacher, or experienced person willing to teach (we’ll pay obviously) in Austin, TX?

And/or is there a good step-by-step course we could work through?

Again, it’s Anniversary edition I’m interested in.


(by thomsk for group greggshorthand)

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14 comments Add yours
  1. Primarily a motivational thing I think. I want to learn shorthand to use it — i.e. write it. The Functional approach is all reading for a long time and while I know that is arguably the best way overall to attain writing capability, still you do have to tolerate a long up front period where you only get to read.

    It reminds me of an episode of Friends where Phoebe is teaching Joey to play guitar and at one point she yells at him, "If you want to learn to play then DON'T TOUCH THE GUITAR!" 🙂

  2. Thanks. If it is motivation, then I'm going to break the bad news (or the good news) — it is entirely up to you how you progress.

    My experience is that to really get going, you need to spend a minimum of one hour a day, at least 5 days a week, when you're beginning. It is the only way that the outlines get cemented in the brain: by constantly seeing and reading. Shorthand is like reading, or like learning a new language. I don't know of any beginning language classes in which you only do twice-a-week sessions. And I don't particularly recommend doing 5 hours in one session, or two sessions of 2.5 hours. I don't think it is as effective, since by the end of the last hour, you would have forgotten what was studied at the beginning. Moreover, you would go through a relatively long period of time without studying shorthand, increasing the risk of forgetting what you have already learned.

    I like your idea of having a coach or a teacher pushing you. Unfortunately, I don't live in the Austin area — if I did, I would offer my services, :-). But what worries me is what you do in the off days. If you don't pick up the book and review, you would be going back to square one, no matter how good of a teacher you have. Progress in shorthand comes from constancy and persistence, and most importantly, from the motivation of the student.

    Joel kindly posted the Teacher's Handbook of the Functional Method Manual. You can get it here. Like you said, you won't be writing anything until Assignment 21. This apparent long time that the student doesn't touch a pen is done by design. First, Leslie eliminated the actual formulation and memorization of rules, and as such the student will learn shorthand by imitating well-written passages. Further, it allows the student to write shorthand naturally and well, because the student would've been exposed to written shorthand for at least a month. At the end of that month, you will not question which way the circle is joined to the curve, whether it goes outside or inside the angle, etc., because if you do it some other way, it would look wrong to you. You would just be writing, and that's the final purpose.

    I hope this information helps.

  3. To echo mcbud's advice, it's the best you will receive. And the READING of shorthand is very important. With consistent practice you should be able to pick up an issue of The Gregg Writer or skip to portions of Gregg Speed Building you have not seen and read an article as if it were in a regular English language magazine or book. You'll learn to recognize unfamiliar shorthand outlines the same way you learned unfamiliar English words in school — from the content of what you're reading. Best of luck with your efforts. 🙂

  4. It wasn't my intention to make sessions with a teacher be our only sessions. My plan was to practice daily – or at least five days a week. Then in addition I'd hoped for two teacher sessions where to act as regular checks on progress, motivation, etc.

    However, I simply can't give an hour a day at the moment. I thought half an hour would have been useful (albeit slower than if I could give it more). Sounds like you're saying I'd be wasting my time.

  5. My intention was not to discourage you, but to make you aware of what you can expect. Since you already have been exposed to Anniversary, it may be that half-hour may work out for you personally, but from what I understood, you will be working with your assistant who doesn't know shorthand, so the time spent may be longer. Suggested timings are listed in the Teacher's Handbook, and to this timing you need to add the time you spend reading the previous lesson, which is usually done before you start a new lesson. Also, remember that these timings assume that you have a teacher: the time may be longer if no teacher is available to keep you on track. Lastly, there is also the Gregg Speed Studies Third Edition, which should be studied along the Functional Method manual. and reading from it adds time as well.

    Perhaps the best thing for you would be to tailor your goals and keep a schedule/syllabus to keep you motivated. Construct a calendar and assume you will be spending at least two days per lesson. I estimate that your reading phase will last about two months.

    Are your lunch breaks half hour?

  6. Excellent! I work on my own too, so it is great that you can make your own schedule!

    Like I said, give the half-hour a try and let me know how it goes. I learned shorthand on my own (only had guidance from my aunt who was a legal secretary who learned Anniversary), but since I was highly motivated, I progressed very quickly and stuck to it. The persistence is really the important thing.

  7. How long did it take you until you found yourself using it for real? I'd like to get to the stage where it becomes my default way of taking notes at meetings or even when scribbling down my own thoughts.

  8. Even though slow-and-steady is best, there's still hope. I manage 30 minutes (bring one passage up to target speed) most nights for a month or two, then life gets busy for a while, then I have time again. On holidays I often do two passages in one sitting, and two sittings a day. On average.

    Once you've done several lessons of writing, start using words you already know in your regular notes. The common words are taught early, and you'll be encouraged at your progress.

    It's recommended that you finish the theory before shifting from longhand with bits of shorthand to shorthand with bits of stumbling, but it's okay to try early, especially if, like me, you read ahead.

    If you're in shorthand mode, avoid the temptation to shift to longhand for new words. It's a bad habit. Write it as best you can, then wait for a break and clarify it in the margin if necessary. Then check it with a dictionary and reinforce the correct form as soon as possible.

    There's a difference between reading ahead and skipping writing practice. You should work through each passage at speed so your muscles and nerves learn. However, reading ahead can keep up your interest. Some word families are spread over several chapters. I liked seeing the entire family at once.

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