How-to: Shorthand Speedbuilding

When learning to write in shorthand, often the theory (while extremely important) will not be adequate to build proper speed. The solution for most is to get some dictation recordings and practice by listening and writing down what the speaker says as quickly and as accurately as possible. Here’s the second problem: How do you get dictation recordings if you’re: a) a kid (like me); b) living somewhere where they are not readily available (e.g. Nepal, Botswana, or the Falklands); or c) cheap (sort of like me)?

What I first did was to get a book, choose a nicely sized paragraph, and with a timer and a calculator, see how fast I could write the paragraph. It works, but it wastes time while you count words and type numbers in, and it’s a little boring. It also doesn’t really count as dictation.

What I did next was to go to this YouTube channel, which I’ve already mentioned in a previous post. It’s great because it has speeds down to 20 wpm and can therefore be used by an almost complete beginner. The downside is that many of the recordings have really long, scientific, medical words which – while they may be useful to journalists and such – are not really useful to people like me who just want to take down notes in class.

The last thing I want to talk about is a truly awesome website called Shorthand Shorthand Shorthand. It has loads of info on shorthand types, tips for learning shorthand, and tips for speedbuilding. The thing I find the most useful is something the author calls Self Dictation. It’s not exactly an extremely creative idea (it’s a series paragraphs on which you write each shorthand outline on it’s corresponding word) but it follows a strict structure of 50 exercises on a whopping 71 pages, so you’ll find yourself improving with every exercise. To obtain the Word Document, you’ll have to write an email to him, but he is really quick with replying with the file (I got mine after only one hour). He also updates his site with new dictations every month, so you can do the traditional method of speedbuilding on his site too.

None of these sites have the best way to build speed, but I think that with a mixture of different exercises and methods, we should all be zooming along at our desired speed before the world ends in December.

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