I’ve been enjoying this forum so much because of the diversity of languages, methods and resources regarding shorthand. I’m 28 years old and I’ve started studying shorthand on April 22nd, 2019, when I finally decided to become a legislative reporter in the Brazilian National Congress. As you might expect, very few people qualify for teaching shorthand nowadays. I’m lucky enough to live in Brasília, where it was easier to find a teacher who could assist me.
The first step, for me specifically, was to find a teacher. Some people study the Maron method, available for free here, or even look material up online and try their luck on Leite Alves method. After reading some books on performance and improvement, specially Peak from Anders Ericsson, I was convinced (and still am) that a teacher guiding you is the best approach to quickly grasp anything. I’ve found Mr. José Oliveira Anunciação and I have been studying with him ever since.
The method for studying shorthand follows:
During 1 week, I studied the basics of Leite Alves method, through reading shorthand and writing shorthand. He made the material himself, but the lesson structure is exactly the same used in Dr. Leite Alves’ book, from 1937. Some people take a month, some people take some days, it depends on how quickly you go through the exercises.
- Speedbuilding + Transcriptions.
After glancing over the theory, I started the dictations and transcriptions. Before doing any dictation, though, I had to write and correct 15 transcription exercises like this one¹. Afterwards, I was allegedly ready to start taking dictations like this one¹. And so I did.We’ve been having two 4-hour meetings per week, on Mondays and Thursdays. Of course, during the pandemic it has changed. I study at home and send him my transcriptions and dictations via Google Drive. My teacher provides me 12 dictations and 6 transcriptions per week, which is a lot considering that I do them, check them, do them again and train defective/problematic signs.
My evolution in speedbuilding follows:
- We started with dictations of 20 wpm, with a 20 words failure threshold. I got it first time.
- I took around 1 week to achieve 30 wpm, 30 words failure threshold.
- 2 weeks to achieve 40 wpm, 40 words failure threshold.
- 2 weeks to achieve 50 wpm, 50 words failure threshold. From this point on, all dictations have 50 words failure threshold.
- 3.5 weeks to achieve 60 wpm.
- It took me more than a month to reach 70 wpm. In this moment, I wanted to give up. Instead, I read about performance and high-end athletes to see what could I do to reach better results. If the reading went beyond the placebo effect, it’s beyond me to answer.
- It took more 1.5 month to achieve 80 wpm. At this point, I was vaccinated to feeling stagnated. I just kept practicing almost every day, 2~3 hours.
It took 2.5 months to achieve 90 wpm.
- I didn’t take a break, but I should have. I achieved 90 wpm around January and I had my first shorthand exam for a public service job in March. I wanted it so badly that I didn’t allow myself to rest. The exam was a 5 minute dictation in 80 wpm. I actually managed not to fail completely, but I was terrified during the exam, my hands shook and my signs were borderline illegible. I’ve got 3rd place, so unless the other two quit, I don’t get the job. It was not the one I intended, but it was a test that showed how emotions take an important role in shorthand exams.
- I returned practicing on April. Yesterday, I reached 100 wpm. The National Congress exam still doesn’t have a date, and probably won’t until all the Corona virus situation is stabilized. I intend to reach 130 wpm by then, even if the exam asks only for 90 wpm.
That has been my journey. It lacks in detail because I don’t want to get caught on specifics. If you have any questions, I would be glad to answer.
¹ Mr. José Oliveira Anunciação authorized me to share this material with this forum.