How to Learn Teeline?
March 16, 2006 6:45 AM   Subscribe

What do you know about Teeline shorthand and about training in the U.S.? It seems to be more popular in the U.K. I would like to use it for taking notes and doing interviews.
posted by sholdens12 to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How spooky is that? I've just been trawling for courses in London. I'm not sure of where it's taught in the states, but I'd be more than happy to share book titles, study guides and general angst once I do my first course this weekend.
posted by katiecat at 7:25 AM on March 16, 2006

As a matter of interest, I was taught Pittman in j-school last year. The school decided to switch from Teeline because apparently Pittman is more versatile. It also demands a lot of practice.

I'm sure you could teach yourself Teeline, provided you have the discipline. I might have had a class every week, but I pretty much learned Pittman on my own straight from the book. (I haven't used it in some time, though.)
posted by macdara at 8:00 AM on March 16, 2006

Really, macdara? I've found Pittman requires loads of practice. I've been told by a Teeline advocate that it's more current than the earlier Pittman and more like handwriting. I'm an editor, so have escaped having to know either until recently.

I think either way you cut it, you need about 80 hours to get good at it...
posted by katiecat at 8:10 AM on March 16, 2006

When I learned T-line, took be about 6 months of 1 hour lessons each day to get up to 110 words per minute. It requires a TON of good, competitive practice and an excellent teacher to get up to speed and stay there.

I've since settled at about 80 wpm, which is fine for my needs. I can take down long stretches of speech verbatim with very few mistakes.

T-line is supposedly easier and faster to learn than Pittman, which requires using a pencil to create lines of various thickness to distinguish between letters of sounds.

Don't know about instruction in the US - it's a dying but powerful art.
posted by nyterrant at 10:47 AM on March 16, 2006

I learned Teeline at journalism college in the UK. We were told that Pitmans took longer to learn but could achieve faster speeds. Teeline was quicker to pick up but didn't achieve such high speeds.

We studied fast for 2 hours a day, 4 days a week for 5 months (plus practice at home in the evenings) and most of us just scraped through our 100wpm exams at the end of that time. I would never have been able to push myself to learn as hard and fast as I did without classes, but YMMV as I'm not very good at home study.

Seriously, we were exhausted after 2 hours. We saw shorthand in our sleep... without knowing it we drew outlines in mid air with our fingers when people were talking to us, and over lunch we would discuss the best outlines in orange juice on the canteen tables.

That said, I now love writing shorthand, it's very satisfying (and noone knows what you're writing!)

Once you've learned the outlines the most important thing is to get hold of some practice tapes (even if you take a class with someone reading to you, use these in between times and to get used to different voices). These have recordings of people reading at steady speeds and are often tailored to particular vocabulary - ours were full of local government meetings, some are more secretarial. By the time you've learned the outlines you'll be at around 30 or 40wpm, and you needs tapes that go a little faster than you can write - if you can keep up it's not fast enough. From time to time practice with one that's waaay faster than you can manage. You'll find it frustrating but when you go back to a slower speed you'll notice how easy it is and how you've improved.

Everytime you take down shorthand, sit and write it back up into longhand - being able to read it back is just as much a component of learning shorthand as writing it in the first place.

As you'll see if you ever try and take down a TV programme, it's very difficult to write for a long time at the speed people generally speak - for reporters it's often more of a sprinting discipline for getting down short bursts of the really juicy stuff. People speak much faster than 100 wpm and after about 30 seconds at your top speed your hand will start to hurt. For longer interviews, features etc., most people will take along a dictaphone and then take shorthand notes as a guide (even news reporters, who wear their shorthand with pride).

And don't be afraid to make up your own symbols!

Feel free to email me if you need any more info or moral support...

(Sorry no info about studying in the US, but I would definitely go for a class over self-study unless you're extremely motivated).
posted by penguin pie at 11:21 AM on March 16, 2006

Really, macdara? I've found Pittman requires loads of practice.

That it does, and if you don't keep up with it (like I haven't, which is why it's not on my CV) it'll leave your head very easily. But it is incredibly versatile, and you can use your own outlines for familiar words or terms to speed it up, too.

And also, contrary to popular opinion, you don't have to use a pencil for it or do heavy or light strokes (if you're writing at speed you hardly have time to differentiate, anyway).

You know, all this talk of shorthand makes me want to get my book out again and practice some more.
posted by macdara at 11:51 AM on March 18, 2006

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