More Dictation Qs

We have discussed this before over several threads but i would like some clarification.  In one of my posts asking about dictation, the advice was to use audio dictation from the beginning – to record and replay at a slow pace and writing with the book open. In another thread here, Carlos, you gave some great advice about beginning with shorter takes. I like both of these ideas but i am trying to reconcile them with the instruction in the beginning of the functional method books  which is to “read a convenient group of words from the printed shorthand: then write the group, reading aloud as you write.” This is from the functional method manual which includes the key in the back. So it seems that Leslie is not even considering  the concept of “self dictation” in the beginning.

A problem i have had with writing from the printed shorthand is that though i begin by reading a few words or a sentence and then write them from memory, i then begin to just look at an outline and then write it with no need for recall.  So there seems to be three levels: 1) copying from the shorthand plates, 2) looking at the keys and writing without looking at the shorthand (unless there is a question) and 3) to record and write from a dictation file.  Is the best plan to do some form of all three?  Maybe to copy the entire lesson once, then do a portion of it from the back working on recall and finally to follow Carlos’s advice and do a minute or so from recorded material building up the amount of time and the speed as i go?

(by Ryan for
group greggshorthand)


14 comments Add yours
  1. Leslie's advice applies when you are first learning shorthand, so that you get used to writing it and also to practice penmanship (as a matter of fact, copying from the plates is a great way of improving penmanship). That is a general study procedure for the book. But since shorthand is only useful when used on dictation, you will need to take dictation as soon as you are capable. Once you are familiar with the theory, your time should be spent more on building vocabulary and dictation speed, by doing more of #3 and less of #1. Option #2 is the one of last resort if you don't have access to audio, as it would be an artificial situation. Your final plan looks good to me.

    Does this make sense?

  2. Yes this makes sense, thank you. After I posted i went back to the functional method teacher's handbook and read the instructions for writing and that helped as well. I think i have misunderstood the advice of doing dictation from the beginning. I have always read that to mean "only" do dictation but i now see that i am to do dictation after i copy from the written shorthand – at least in the beginning. I also can see what you mean about option #2. I think it might be a good way in the beginning to check my own recall. I know the original and the anniversary manuals have sections where you write from typed text but that this is not as optimal as using audio.

    Because of my misunderstanding, i have done all of my writing from audio files and this has caused me to stop and start the recording via foot pedal which is also an unnatural process. I think going back and doing the first two while biulding up the the actual dictation in the manner you prescribed will be a good way to gain recall, penmanship and hopefully some initial speed. Thanks again!

  3. Carlos, I wanted to ask this here so others could get the benefit of your answer. Of course i welcome input from everyone as well.

    Beginning in lesson 21 of the FM, according to the teacher's manual, the teacher would only use the current lesson for dictation. I am moving into lesson 70 and up to now I have been doing all of my dictation from the FM lesson and the teacher's manual recommends beginning new matter dictation at lesson 70. I am also using the pyramid plan from the Simplified dictation teacher's handbook which focuses on roughly 400 words and takes at least 30 minutes. It seems that the author suggests that beginning in lesson 70 and continuing into the dictation book dictation was to be from the new matter and not from the daily assignment (the assignment has been copied at home). Am I understanding this correctly? If not, how would you suggest mixing the two? I have several of the books listed in the FM teacher’s handbook section on dictation and it is appealing to start from the beginning and move up from there.

  4. Great thanks. Do you have a preference of the books mentioned on page 67? I have the first five in that list. By grade is it meant content up to that point in the manual? If so, once the first weeks are past what un-graded text should be used? I am assuming that during the FM Dictation book i am also to be using new matter. Would this be a good place for Bowman?

  5. That makes sense. I read from the teacher's handbook to the FMD book and they say to avoid ungraded for the first few weeks there as well.

    When you say to finish all the lessons in Speed Studies and FDs do you mean as dictations? If so could i use some of this material as the graded dictation of new matter during the first lessons of the FMD book?

    I have just begun going through the Fundamental Drills and find it more challenging than i thought to write fast. I assume it is very good penmanship drilling. Is this normal?

  6. Fundamental Drills seems to be good writing practice and a very good vocabulary builder. The extra practice is especially nice when you get to the analogical word beginnings and endings in the manual. They are a giant lump to digest all at once.

  7. No preference, really. Any of those books is fine. Graded means that the material is correlated with lessons in the manual. For the ungraded material, they are recommending using "Short Business Letters for Dictation." However, I wouldn't do any ungraded material dictation at this point. That is because they are recommending going with 2 weeks of graded new matter. Since you are starting to take graded new matter dictation on Assignment 70 of the FM manual, this means that by the end of Assignment 80, you are in theory ready for ungraded easy material. However, the FM book has 83 assignments. I would just finish the last remaining 3 lessons, and jump to the FMD book, supplementing with Bowman as I have described before. The extra 3 lessons of ungraded material is not worth it, IMO.

    However, before jumping to the FMD book, you would need to finish all the lessons of Gregg Speed Studies and Fundamental Drills. There is a lot of vocabulary practice at the end of those books that will help expand your shorthand lexicon.

  8. Not necessarily dictated, but studied as if it were the FM manual. You can always dictate it if you want the extra practice.

    With respect to the writing, if you're just copying the lesson, the writing should be steady, crisp, and comfortable. If you're practicing for penmanship, the writing should be a tad slower, but not too slow. During dictation is when you start forcing the speed.

  9. I found the analogical word endings and beginnings one of the easier things to learn of the system, because they are very distinct. Some of the omission rules in Anniversary are harder to memorize. But I agree, the fact that they present them all at once is a little hard to swallow.

  10. No argument there. After reading about some of the changes in presentation made in the Simplified manual, I wondered why I had never noticed the shortcomings in the early units of the Anni one. Of course, since I was already familiar with the basics when I first found the Anni manual, I probably did not go over those units as thoroughly as later ones.

    The backwards presentation of the omission rules might explain why they seem to give so many of us grief. Your idea makes sense; I'll try that the next time I review those particular principles.

    When I set out to review the entire manual last fall, I noticed many details that I am sure I missed the first time around. Most of them were things that were not spelled out in the manual. I have to wonder whether a good teacher may have pointed such things out to students. They certainly must have had to come up with additional practice material. And earlier series seem to have been even skimpier in that department!

    There was mention somewhere, though not in the manual, that some things included in the brief form list were there not because they are brief forms themselves, but because they are written the same as other words that really are brief forms. In the case of Mr. and Mrs., that would be 'market(s)'. I'm not sure if including homographs was really necessary or helpful, but at least I can understand the rationale.

  11. And my theory on the difficulty of some of the omission rules is that the presentation in the manual is awful from a pedagogical sense, let alone that the material to practice the rule is practically nonexistent. For example, the omission of t in -dent vs keeping the t on -tent. That would be an easy thing to contrast, but the manual doesn't make it obvious. Worse yet, they present the rule to omit the t, but then right away tell you to write the t in another group of words! Learn something to then unlearn it? They should have just introduced the words that you write fully way in advance, so that when you're faced with the new rule of omission, you will know which words the rule will and will not be applied (because you have written half of those words beforehand!). It's odd that you have to wait to Unit 22 to write "lost", "east", "fast", etc., all words that are written fully, when you could be writing those words after the first few lessons of Gregg!

    The same thing happens with the Abbreviating Principle. Really, it is a straightforward rule, but the manual doesn't tell you from the very beginning that the essence of shorthand is to write only what is absolutely necessary to reconstruct the word, and that by doing that is one way to impart speed to your writing. They talk about brief forms, but they don't make the overall point that abbreviation is key in shorthand. This concept is completely missed. Further, why the heck Mrs. and Mr. are classified as brief forms? Mr. and Mrs. are just abbreviations, just like in longhand abbreviations for Mister and "missus"! Maybe I'm looking too much into how shorthand systems work, but after writing for many years, some of these concepts are now obvious but seldom brought up in the learning process.

    Just my 2 cents.

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