Teeline torture: Teeline equals shorthand for soul-destroying times.

Now I’m not picking on Teeline particularly, it’s just that it happens to be the thing that’s currently destroying my will to live. I’m equally sure that any form of shorthand, whether Teeline or otherwise would be just as much fun. Since I’m told that any journalist who wants a job these days needs shorthand, it is essential that I pass the exam.

Using Dawn Johnston’s Teeline for Journalists, I was doing reasonably well at a steady pace. The book comes with a CD full of dictated passages ranging from 40 wpm to 80 wpm. But its a different story when you have to take down shorthand at 100 wpm for the exam, and with a 90% accuracy rate to pass. Yikes! With only three weeks left it’s starting to look like an unlikely prospect. Perseverance and practice is apparently the key to success with Teeline shorthand though.

Teeline for Journalists had been my bible for the last few months, but now that I’m starting to copy down short reports from the TV news and other programmes, I’ve come across a lot of words that I’m not sure of. Teeline is based on the alphabet so you can, in theory, write any word once you know the letters. The book, while being great for learning the theory, doesn’t give you all the words so sometimes I struggle with things like “F” written up or down, or some of the word endings. Using the Teeline Gold: Word List has helped a lot, as it gives lists of many common words.

However, to get any speed in the Teeline shorthand I’ve found that practising the word groupings and blends are the best way to achieve this. Teeline Word Groupings gives a comprehensive list of the most widely used – and some of the not so common – word groupings.

Although three weeks doesn’t sound like enough time, I believe there are some people who have mastered Teeline shorthand in something like 200 hours. So if I was starting from scratch I’d need to do just under 10 hours a day for the next three weeks. But since I already have a reasonable grounding of the theory, and a speed of between 50 and 80 wpm (depending on how difficult the words are), it must be possible to reach the magic 100 wpm in 21 days.

Well, it remains to be seen when the time comes. Meantime, it’s practice practice practice. Teeline torture indeed!



Filed under journalism

8 responses to “Teeline torture: Teeline equals shorthand for soul-destroying times.

  1. Matt

    So, how did you do on the shorthand test? We don’t have that requirement here in the states, but I’ve been looking into learning some shorthand to make my life easier (since I only write a dozen articles a year, it’s pretty easy already–I just want to have the option of leaving the recorder behind).

  2. katedoherty

    Regret to say I failed miserably. Although my speed was getting much better every day, I’d left it too late to reach the required 100wpm. My classmates didn’t fare too much better, with an estimated pass rate of around 10%. Teeline is a good system but you really do have to practice consistently. Looking forward to the resit in August!

  3. Jambo

    Just doing mine now – same book. Horrible, in’it?

    I am floating around 50/60 and just don’t know how I am going to make 100 by Febuary…

  4. As a student Journalist, I used google to find ANYTHING on Teeline and your article inspired me. I’m glad I’m not the only one going or has gone through the hell that is Teeline!

    Yours aye


  5. Dan Onidi

    I too am studying Teeline as part of a journalism degree; and you’re right – it’s tough! But moreover, what bugs me is that it’s anachronistic and totally pointless in the modern world! Digital recorders and transcription software – make shorthand a quaint irrelevance! My course demands only 80 wpm for 2 mins. But think about how often a Press conference or Trial proceeding, would last a mere 2 minutes? Not to mention, have you ever heard anyone speaking at 80 wpm in real life? You’d need 120 wpm minimum and an extended Teeline vocabulary to be able to keep up.

  6. Chris Barlow

    Did you ever pass the test?

  7. Ordered that Word Groupings after reading this. I’ve thought about practising by writing songs in shorthand whilst they play. The benefit here is that many phrases are repeated and the speed varies.

    A good song is Morrissey – He Knows I’d To See Him. Songs that like which begin slow but can go fast at the chorus. I will play around with that and see how that goes.

    Well you failed the test but I’ve failed at things too. Keep going and you will do well. Enthusiasm, after technique, is a vital, and it sounds like you’ve got it in spades.

  8. katedoherty

    I ended up changing courses so never did resit the shorthand even after taking my books on holiday and sitting in the sun repeating the same stuff every minute I could get. It still annoys me to this day, but it was the right thing to do at the time.

    One thing I will say about Teeline is that it’s absolutely essential to practice, and not just a few minutes here and there but as often as possible with regular sessions.

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