Learning shorthand

It feels quite strange to be writing a blog about shorthand.

It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in a shorthand class for the first time, wondering what I’d let myself in for.

Just a few months ago, though, I managed to pass 110 words a minute with 100 per cent accuracy, after earlier achieving the same percentage at 70, 90 and 100 at the first time of asking.

So how did I do it? To be honest, I have no idea. I feel like if I can do that, anyone can.

At first, learning shorthand is like learning a foreign language.

The early days are the hardest. It’s difficult to get your head around those annoying little symbols as you try to learn the shorthand alphabet, but if you stick with it, you will get your rewards.

Shorthand seems like the most difficult thing in the world to learn at first, but by the end, it should become second nature.

The key is repetition. If you look at something and copy it enough times, eventually it will stick.

Suddenly, something clicks and the whole thing gets much easier.

I was lucky in many respects, as I had two experienced and understanding tutors teaching me and had two years to learn shorthand.

I realise not all people learning shorthand will have those luxuries, but with enough practice, I’m sure anyone could master it. As they say, practice makes perfect.

I can’t tell you any single tip to master shorthand, though. Everyone is different and there wasn’t anything particularly special I did while learning it.

Full concentration in classes is crucial, as if you miss one thing it could cost you dear in the long run, when you are desperately trying to think of an outline in an exam.

Make sure you attend every class you can and take every opportunity you get to do dictation practice after you have learnt all the outlines. Without this dictation practice, you will never be able to improve your speed.

Although it seems impossible at first, you can enjoy learning shorthand.

Initially, it seems a little bit like going back to school and learning how to write, but shorthand lessons can become something you look forward to rather than dread if you put the work in.

But is it all worth it? Tutors and lecturers all constantly drum it in to students exactly how important shorthand is for anyone wanting to become a journalist, and are sometimes doubted.

After all, why learn shorthand when a dictaphone will render it unnecessary?

My experiences this summer left me in no doubt how important shorthand is, though.

On a four week internship as a news reporter at my local newspaper, the majority of interviews I undertook took place over the phone. Shorthand is invaluable then.

It made my life a whole lot easier and helped ensure my time at the paper was a success.

I have no doubts whatsoever that shorthand will continue to stand me in good stead throughout my career, and I’m now extremely glad I concentrated in those classes.

The key to passing shorthand is perseverance.

There will be days when you doubt your ability and even doubt why you are learning it, but at the end, it will all be worth it.

Stick with it and don’t get disheartened. If I can do it, anyone can. Good luck!

Daniel Prince