Teeline Shorthand, a baptism of fire.

Day one of training to be a journalist has just come to a close… or rather it came to a close nearer 4:00pm today and I have been both worrying away at my exercise book plus stuffing my face in response to it.

Week one is solely Shorthand based – shorthand in this particular industry these days comes by the name of Teeline. Now Teeline, for those of you who don’t know it a journalist’s shorthand script loosely based around older scripts and compiled in such a way that you are supposed to learn it in accordance to how the brain registers and remembers terms in an easy and logical but overall speedy way.

Learning shorthand is like learning Japanese. It is not simply the case of memorising a new alphabet – each letter or “outline” one learns is connected to many other words and can symbolise so many different things and these are then learned by way of “drilling” – the embittered maiden aunt of “doing lines”. However some are fairly simple, the Teeline outline for the word Electric is the bottom-most corner of a letter E which is how the letter E is symbolised in Teeline generally. Electric is easy to learn because the letter itself represents E and the shape it gives looks like an L and so the word Electric flows off it quite easily (to me anyway). 

Things get tricky though when you go round the class transcribing the Teeline dictation you have just painstakingly scribbled down only to find that you can’t remember what you wanted the rhune to symbolise initially.

Its hard slog and I can’t see any shortcuts however I do think that daily practise will keep me ahead of the game (including having a gander at the next chapter so my classmates think I am better than them thus creating the persona of being brilliant and threatening). I do like my classmates however already you can see how the groups are beginning to form within the fold and it is always important to stay within groups you will feel encouraged to learn within… and to compete within. Alas, my peer group at university was one of those “wing and busk” sorts of groups and sadly my degree did suffer for the sake of my continuous fighting for my right to party and or skive when it was a nice day.

Still, we soldier on. I have initiated a good rapport with the class teacher which also helps I find. If, for no other reason than that I know she knows me now and will pick me up on things more often or ask me questions more often seeing as I am one of the 15 who to her has a real name. 

There has always been an element of psychology in my academic career. I remember at the age of 13 doing terribly in history until I decided to write my essays as though my history teacher was dictating them. Strange I know but if I imagined his voice and his vocabulary then I would be getting As instead of Cs. From then on I have relied equally on inter-classroom relations of the mind and academic prowess.

Prowess at this stage is a grand term, it belongs at the top of the stairs… each step being eight feet high and covered in sharp things and slimy things so as to make my clamber to the top more tricky. Except each step really is a chapter in Teeline for Journalists and each look down at the ground below is each question I am asked in front of my classmates with one wrong-footed answer leading to disastrous consequences.

For those of you out there learning Teeline along with me then I don’t look forward to the day we shall be competing for a nice cushy job at some glossy supplement magazine.


If you translate this and agree then you and I have a lot in common.

If you translate this and agree then you and I have a lot in common.


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