As my MA in journalism is a double-accredited course, there are certain things we need to achieve under the requirements of the NCTJ and BJTC. One of these, for the NCTJ, is to be able to use Teeline shorthand.
When I first learned we had to develop this skill, I was pretty excited. It seemed like a cool challenge, and would bring a bit of a break in my timetable from law and media ethics. I started practicing my alphabet over the summer holidays, and when we received our timetables, I did kind of wonder why we had five hours in total a week planned just for shorthand classes – but I was still eager to get learning.
And then I started. And my god… I don’t want to start talking all negatively about it, because the whole point in this post is to offer a kind of introduction to total newbies to the concept. Plus, in all fairness, it isn’t all that bad. I can totally see its importance – a lot of people told me beforehand that it was “outdated” and that I would never actually use it. It’s also quite fun to learn. I’m just REALLY bad when it comes to learning things like a new language – I can’t replace what I already know with a whole new word!
That’s essentially what shorthand is; to the untrained eye, it just looks like a load of squiggles and swirls, and still kind of does to someone like me who gets it… but doesn’t 100% get it at this stage. One thing I must say about it is that you really need to dedicate time to practicing if you’re serious about learning. We’ve been told to set aside at least 45 minutes a night to drill words. And as much as it pains me to say it, I do really see a difference when I sit down and abide by those 45 minutes. But sometimes life (naps) gets in the way, and I really struggle if I turn up to class without practicing at home too.
Anyway, if I haven’t scared you off at this point, here’s the Teeline shorthand alphabet!
You do come to find later on that building words isn’t as simple as just combining these letters – the whole point is to save time, after all, so you do start dropping unnecessary letters and shortening your words. But learning that alphabet is a really important starting point, as it’s kind of the basics and even the simplified words will follow these shapes to some extent. But that’s something we might reach if I write up a follow-up to this introduction!
So, ya. Please do let me know if you’re feeling inspired (and not scared at all) to try out a bit of Teeline shorthand. As I say, it gets much easier the more time you put in. So even if you just want to learn a little skill on the side, go for it!
Feel free also to comment any questions you have – as I say, I’m just learning too, but I’m sure I could try to clear up any queries or confusion!