My journey on speedbuilding – Leite Alves method (Brazilian Portuguese)

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:

  1. Theory.
    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.
  2. 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.

Previous post:
Next post:
13 comments Add yours
  1. Welcome,

    I started shorthand a few months before you and I’m nowhere near your current level, so congratulations! I’m amazed that you only needed one week to cover the theory and went straight to dictations after that. Is this the Portuguese equivalent of Gregg shorthand?


    1. No. There is a Portuguese edition of Gregg Shorthand: Estenografia Gregg by Eugênio Harter. Leite Alves is a completely different method.

    2. As Carlos said, Leite Alves is a different method. The theory, to be honest, is quite simple, but abbreviations and actually getting used to suffixes take months of training. 

  2. Oh and I too definitely agree that a teachers makes all the difference. There are so many details that are just hinted at or even implied in shorthand manuals that I only understood thanks to Carlos and the others here…

  3. Thank you so much for this detailed post! You have reached 100 wpm in Portuguese which is remarkable in one year of study. It's awesome that you have a teacher so that he can train you to pass the exam.

  4. Thank you!

    I have colleagues there that got to 110 wpm in 5 months, more than one actually. My desperation, by this mark, was to not being as fast or as efficient as them. "Hell is other people", comparisons are not healthy for self-improvement.

    1. Does "40 words failure threshold" mean that you do a dictation of 5 minutes, and if you get 40 words wrong, that is classed as a fail?

      1. Precisely. Every dictation is considered as a test for going 10 wpm above. Of course, framing it as a fail can be disheartening, but it only means that I will try again later.

        If my dictation gets 51 words wrong or more, I keep in the same speed. Otherwise, I advance to the next speed.

        He also gives me lower speed dictations that I must do in order to consistently keep the number of mistakes low.

  5. Each dictation is 5 min long. It's the exam standard here, so it makes sense to test ourselves accordingly. However, sometimes he records 10 min dictations for fatigue training, mainly when we're close to important exams.

    The definition of correct and wrong word varies among the examiners, but they tend to consider:

    • Correct word: No discount;

    • Different word but similar meaning and sound: 1/2 Wrong (e.g. Mom/Mommy, Folk/Folks);

    • Different word but similar meaning or sound: Wrong (e.g. can't/Kent, chic/chick, people/persons) ;

    • Completely different word: Wrong;

    • Mispelled word: Wrong;

    • Mispunctuation: Wrong;

    My teacher is really strict on correction and won't use "half wrong". It's more punishing but it guarantees that we stay below the maximum number of mistakes in the exam. This maximum also varies among examiners, but they normally create a punctuation system (like shown above) and consider eliminated the candidate that goes beyond 50 mistakes.

    The exam I did in March was just like that, and I got exactly 50 mistakes, but the other 2 candidates that made it did 15 and 10 mistakes, respectively, so they've got 1st and 2nd place.

Leave a Reply