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Five Tips for Learning Shorthand

Earlier, as I was browsing through my Twitter feed in an attempt to do anything but revision for my Essential Media Law exam on Wednesday, I caught sight of a tweet from a fellow journalist asking for advice to help with learning shorthand. Never one to pass up an opportunity to procrastinate, I decided to write a whole list of tips. In my defence, my first shorthand exam is also fast approaching, so this exercise has helped to remind me of what I need to do to pass.

1) Start early. The best piece of advice that I was given when I came for my Kingston interview was to start learning shorthand during the summer. If you haven’t started shorthand yet, but know that you will have to soon, get a head start. Even if you just learn the alphabet, it will make a difference in class.

2) Practice makes perfect. Any shorthand book which you buy will tell you that you should be practising for at least half an hour per day. This is an understatement. Often an hour or even more will be necessary if you have been learning difficult outlines in class. If you struggle to find a large block of time in which to practise, keep your notebook with you and do some outlines whenever you have a spare five minutes. I use my twenty minute wait on Twickenham station – excellent use of dead time!

3) Keep a pen in your hand at all times. During shorthand lessons, we’re told that if we aren’t reading shorthand then we should be writing it. Every single outline which you write improves your speed and accuracy, so even if you don’t have as much time outside of class to devote to practising, you can use every minute of your shorthand lessons.

4) Read shorthand as well as writing it. When you’ve written out a passage of shorthand, make sure to read it back. This serves a dual purpose: you can see if you’ve made any mistakes, and by improving your reading speed you will also become more familiar with the outlines and thus improve your writing speed.

5) Learn to associate outlines with sound. As you practise a new outline, say it to yourself under your breath (this may not be advisable if you practise on the bus – people will think that you’re crazy). When learning sentences or passages, try to get someone to read to you, or use a disc if your book comes with one. This will make the response to sound automatic.

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A Brief Introduction

Hello and welcome to Destination Fleet Street, a blog following my journey though MA Journalism and into the big wide journalistic world. I am aware that Fleet Street is no longer the journalistic hub that it once was, but as the name is still a metonym for the industry I hope that the reference still makes sense.

Let me give you a brief summary of my journey so far:

In April, I visited Kingston for the first time, fell in love with both the campus and the course, and sent off my application.

In May, I received an invitation to interview, which clashed with one of my final exams. I begged them to reschedule and twiddled my thumbs nervously, waiting for a reply.

In June, I got the reply that I was hoping for, offering me a new interview date.

On July 3rd, I attended my interview. I also flew to America. It was a rather stressful day.

On July 4th, I received an unconditional offer. I then proceeded to party like an American on Independence Day (the setting at least was appropriate).

In August, I read through my reading list and wept as I placed the most expensive Amazon order of my life.

Which brings us to September, in which I started this blog. Keep reading to find out how the rest of the year pans out, as well as anything else useful and journalism-related that I happen to find along the way.