Tech Tools for Teeline Shorthand

February 25, 2023

There are many ways to incorporate technology into your study of Teeline. Here is a tip that may be useful if you are working on a prepared dictation and are stuck on a certain sentence, group of words or even a full paragraph, that, despite your best efforts, remains stubbornly beyond reach.

This technique falls under the category of a facility drill, whereby, you isolate the word, sentence, phrase or paragraph that's giving you difficulty and devote your full attention to getting it "in hand."

Let's assume you are working on a piece and are struggling with this sentence: "Many members of the club have listened to the arguments against the use of cars." 

There are a few options that might help. Before we employ the use of technology, though, grab a pen and your steno pad.  

Option 1: 

Perhaps the easiest approach might be to simply write the longhand sentence at the top of your steno pad and then write the Teeline below that on every line down the full length of the page. For the first several lines, you will want to ensure your writing is as neat as possible. There is no sense in starting off with anything less than your best handwriting. Then, as you become accustomed to the rhythm of writing this sentence over and over, you should (carefully) increase the pace, moving your hand slightly faster each time.

Option 2:

Another option might be to use your phone to record a Voice Memo. On the iPhone, the "Voice Memos" app, located in the Utilities folder, is more than suitable for the job. Simply record what you wish to practise, keeping in mind it is best to record what you wish to drill numerous times in a row as the app does not have repeat functionality. Note: While the Voice Memos app does have a playback speed selector (Tortoise to Hare), it has limited usefulness as it tends to be either too slow or too fast.

Option 3:

Yet another option would be to utilise one of the many "text to speech" applications on the market. There are many free (as well as paid) versions. Most bill themselves as the #1 text to speech application. For our purposes, we're going to look at Natural Reader, which, as the company states, "converts text, PDF, and 20+ formats into spoken audio so you can listen to your documents, ebooks, and school materials anytime, anywhere."

They, too, have free and paid plans. We have only used the free version and have no other vested interest in this product. Our goal here is to simply alert you to study alternatives that may help you.

The voices used to read your text are quite good. Free users can sample the Premium Voices for 20 minutes per day and the Plus Voices for 5 minutes per day. Or use any available Free Voices unlimitedly.

You can use this on your desktop or a mobile device. Below is a screenshot from the iPhone app.

Natural Reader does not have a repeat function, so, in our example below, the sentence in question is copied/pasted five times. You could choose to do more or less as your specific situation warrants.

Note you can adjust the speed at which it is read and, that it is indicated in WPM. We would consider this to be a rough approximation only. Different text to speech applications treat text (and the resulting space between a punctuation mark and the next word) differently. While a tool like this could be useful for longer dictation-style exercises, keep in mind an experienced reader would very likely read it differently, so do not be lulled into thinking you are writing at a certain speed based on an app.

That said, there is no sense throwing the baby out with the bathwater as tools such as these have their place in your dictation practise.

After you have decided on a chosen speed to start with, all that remains is to have your pen and pad at the ready and hit play.

In our opinion, there are perhaps two benefits to using a text to speech app for your facility drills.

Firstly, by creating your own study materials, you are taking charge of your own improvement. By taking the time to generate a personalised drill for that word, sentence or paragraph, you will be surprised at how quickly something becomes easier after you have broken it down.

Secondly, you don't have to listen to the sound of your own voice when doing so!

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