Tips For Starting Lesson 21 Simplified

Hello Everyone,

I am getting close to starting Assignment 21 in the Simplified Functional Method book. Assignment 21 is where you begin the writing process and I was wondering if anyone out there can give me some “pointers” on how best to begin this new aspect in my shorthand training. It doesn’t appear to require any dictation at this point in the Functional Book, so I believe it is just reading the plates and then copying them.

I will appreciate all tips, tricks and suggestions from anyone who’s been where I find myself now.


13 comments Add yours
  1. Quality over speed. Go fast enough that you don't hesitate, but don't sacrifice penmanship.

    Read what you write, both as soon as you write it and a week later. It will catch problems. Also, you need to practise reading your own writing.

  2. I just wrote this LONG response and it vanished when I went to publish it. ACK!

    First off, congratulations on reaching Lesson 21. Too many people give up long before that milestone. You are to be congratulated!

    When starting to read and copy, be sure to go over and over and over the material before you start writing. Know that your notes are probably not going to look as perfect as the book's but that's normal. Better, more confident writing comes with practice.

    If you decide to use recorded dictation material, I believe the first dictations are in the 40-50 wpm range. [Carlos, does one use earlier lessons? Something in the back of my mind says initial dictations should always be on old, practiced material from prior lessons and then be built up to the current lesson. I can't remember.]

    You should always compare your outlines with those of the book to make sure you're writing correctly.

    When you do start to take dictation, you'll find you flub an outline. Do not panic. Just TRY to get SOMETHING written for that word, even if it's the first letter or the first syllable. Nothing is worse, in real dictation situtations, than to have NOTHING in your notes other than a big blank. Transcription becomes impossible!

    Of course, you have to compare to the book here as well and you should work on any outlines which you fail to write or write correctly. After you feel confident with a take, you can push the speed up.

    Within four or five lessons, you should be in the 50-60 (or higher) range. By the end of the text, you should be writing about 80 wpm on practiced material; faster is better but 80 is quite an accomplishment.

    Hope all that helps and wasn't too detailed.

    1. Yes. The first dictation is done with old material. In the Anniversary version, they went back to Assignment 2 for the first dictation material, but in the later series they used Assignment 18-20. The general procedure for the first introduction to writing is the following (slightly modified from the DJS Functional Method Instructor's Handbook):

      1. Student clears desk and opens notebook to prepare to write.
      2. Student turns to say Assignment 20, paragraph 172 (as an example), and reads the first sentence.
      3. Teacher says: "Watch as I write the first part of the sentence. I will dictate it to myself and write it on the board very slowly and in very large writing so that you can see just how words are put together."
      4. Teacher says: "Now you write as I dictate it to you. Keep your book open and refer to it if you are in doubt about an outline."
      5. Teacher dictates the first part of the sentence.
      6. Teacher says: "Everyone got it? Fine. Now let's do the rest of the sentence."
      7. Teacher writes the second part of the sentence very large several times, dictating to himself, then he dictates to the class.
      8. Teacher says: "How many got it? Fine. Now let's write the whole sentence."
      9. Teacher dictates whole sentence.
      10. Teacher says: "Good. Now let's try the next sentence. Read it from the book."
      11. Student reads the next sentence from the book.
      12. Steps 3-11 are repeated with the next sentence.
      13. The procedure is repeated with the two sentences dictated together. The two sentences may take about 10 minutes. This should be all the time it should be allotted to writing in the first day.

      The homework for Assignment 21 will be reading the lesson as always, with no writing of Assignment 21 whatsoever.

      When the student studies Assignment 22, the dictation will be done from Assignment 21, again with a few sentences from a paragraph, enough to cover 10 minutes. As a homework, the student will read Assignment 22 and copy one of the paragraphs of Assignment 21 in their best shorthand.

      Beginning with Assignment 22, students should make one copy of all the connected matter in each assignment after having read the assignment aloud as usual. Never copy an assignment without reading it!

      Dictation should be from practiced material, with books open. Student should read back aloud his/her notes after dictation to verify legibility. New matter dictation doesn't start until the theory has been learned well, which in most cases means not doing it until after the manual has been studied fully.

  3. That's great advice, Cricket and Marc.

    Paul, it's also probably a good idea to remind yourself what you want to do with shorthand.

    Almost all of the Gregg material is geared towards training as a stenographer who's primarily going to be taking verbatim dictation and that's something that, while it might be nice to achieve, isn't really what I'm trying to accomplish.

    I want to be able to write what I'm thinking faster and more legibly than I can with my horrible longhand. I'll mostly be taking notes while reading or summarizing points made during meetings. I really can't see myself in a situation where I'm going to need accurate verbatim recording (and I would "record" any such occasions if I really needed that).

    So I've found it a useful exercise to set my own priorities:

    1. Fluency (reading and writing)
    2. Legibility
    3. Speed (as a distant third)

    Even if I never get better than 140-150wpm, that's 5 times better than what I can do with longhand.

    So my shorthand study plan, especially between now and when I finish my part-time accounting studies in November, is to read every day. I'm on Assignment 60 of the Functional Manual and then I have all the material in Gregg Shorthand for Colleges I & II, Gregg Simplified Dictation (1st and 2nd eds), Gregg Speed Building for Colleges, and the Advanced Dictation book. Plus I have all the reading material on this site.

    If I can squeeze in some copying, I'm going to start with the For Colleges I book and work forward from the beginning, using Carlos' penmanship template to help me. I can't see myself attempting dictation until next winter, after my courses are done.

    This is going to take a bajillion years compared to the methods laid out in the official materials, but it's deliberate practice, aligned with my goals and will probably help me develop a skill that I can use for the rest of my life.

    I'll tell you an interesting thing: I have to make extensive notes daily for my job and for my studies. Even though I'm not "practicing" shorthand, I'm actually finding myself writing more and more of it and I substitute it for longhand whenever I can easily do so. This is just from daily shorthand reading and it suggests to me that once I start deliberately practicing writing the outlines then I'm probably going to make progress quickly.

    Hope that helps.

    1. If you follow what you say you're going to do, I guarantee you that you will be writing from dictation at at least 100 wpm sooner than what you think. Knowing the theory and eliminating hesitation will put you in the hundreds wpm by itself. This means knowing brief forms and phrases backwards and forwards, and thinking shorthand every time you hear someone speaking (even writing the word in the air helps!). The extra speed gains after the century mark are made mostly by increasing your carrying ability, and that is practiced with dictation. But I believe that once you past 100 wpm, you can do faster with constant study.

    2. Well that's promising. I really only want to be able to compose on paper as quickly as I can with a keyboard, and I only type ~ 90 wpm.

      But whatever results I finally accomplish, the fact that I have finished the entire Simplified system and I can now tackle material without a key is a whole hill o' fun by itself.

  4. Oh, one more suggestion that I've seen somewhere in the Gregg books, and also reiterated in this group:

    When you copy, try to copy phrases or short sentences. Try to avoid write-a-word, read-the-next-word, write-the-next word. Just like "connected reading" in primary literacy, this approach is guaranteed to build more fluency than a stop-start-stop-start approach.

  5. Oh gosh, thank you everybody for all the FANTASTIC advice. I honestly didn't think I would actually start dictation at Assignment 22 (using Assignment 21's material). For now I suppose I will use my iPhone to record and read the first half of a sentence slowly and try taking dictation from it and see how that goes – LOL. It's exciting yet intimidating all at the same time.

    I will start Assignment 20 tomorrow and the next day or so with that material. I hate when we have to change our clocks over. My internal body clock feels all out of whack now.

    Thanks again everybody for your input. Having all of you behind me will be great encouragement

  6. I will keep everyone posted. I was able to begin Assignment 21 today but only got as far as looking over the new brief forms. I'm going to figure out the best way to do my initial dictation. I thought about using Narrator built into Win7 but even at the slowest speed would be way beyond for me. Maybe at first I will need to just record a couple of words into my microphone with decent pauses in between each word and see if I can get the outline down on paper at least.

  7. One useful thing about dictation, even if you do not intend to use shorthand to record speech, is that it encourages fluency. Even at slow speeds, you do not have time to draw the separate strokes. The only way to get it down is to write the whole outline.

Leave a Reply