September 3 2015

I Love Steno: The Student Edition- Great Practice For Theory Students!

A great way for theory and low-speed students to practice is to write to “Learn to Speak English” audio recordings and videos. This is such a great way to practice because the speakers are usually speaking at a fairly slow and steady pace due to the fact that they are trying to teach someone to speak a new language (just like us learning steno). Also, the speakers are usually using vocabulary that is on the basic or intermediate level- just what you need as a newcomer to steno.

There are also great “Learn English” videos that contain conversations between people. This is a great resource for students who are just becoming acquainted with Q & A.

You Tube is my favorite place to access “Learn English” videos. Here are some channel names and links you can visit:

Learn English Conversation:

Learn English Fast 1:

BBC Learning English:

Pod English:

Speak English With Mister Duncan:

Simple English Videos:

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August 13 2015

I Love Steno: The Student Edition: The Earlier You Figure Out How To Write “And,” The Better

The sooner you figure out how you will write the word “and” on your machine, the better. Like most high frequency words, it is beneficial to be able to phrase, “and.” [NOTE: An Oxford study has "and" listed as the 5th most frequently used word.]

When I was taught theory, I was taught to write the word “and” on the machine as AND. In countless hours of practice, I wrote AND without being able to phrase it, due to its being comprised of the final -D stroke. It wasn’t until I finished 8 months of theory and a number of months in low-level speed classes that I discovered writing “and,” SKP-. This method allows for phrasing of the oft-heard word.

It was difficult for me to change the way I wrote “and” after being accustomed to stroking the word out as a lone word. As it is said, “practice makes permanent.” However, I saw a great benefit in amending the way I wrote the word. Phrasing would allow me to eliminate a stroke and quicken my writing.

Due to the immense effort that it takes to amend a mentally solidified stroke, the sooner you figure out how to write your words, particulary high-frequency words, the better off you will be in terms of speed advancement.

Check back tomorrow for Friday Phrases, part 1 of “and phrases.” I currently have over 500 “and phrases” in my dictionary I would like to share. Also, please note that you should use phrasing as you see fit.

Love, Speed and Accuracy,


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July 17 2015

I Love Steno The Student Edition: The Importance Of Practicing The Right Way

Here’s a quote from Michael Jordan regarding basketball; however, this quote can also easily be applied to stenography too:

“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.” -Michael Jordan

Love, Speed & Accuracy,

Elsie Villega

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July 7 2015

I Love Steno The Student Edition: Practice Your Read Back From A Tablet, Smart Phone, etc.

With computer-aided transcription, gone are the days when court reporters have to read back from paper notes. When I first started court reporting school, I used an Stentura Protégé. In transit, I would read back from my paper notes for practice. More than a couple of times I dropped my accordion-like arrangements of notes. I won’t even get into the horrors of seeing my notes flying in the wind. LOL.

I still incorporate steno read back into my daily practice routine. However, I’ve found an easier way to carry my notes with me for my quick, in-transit study sessions.

I now save my steno notes as PDF files on my tablet for easier transport and manageability. If you save your files as PDFs you can drop them into any one of your devices that contain an PDF file reader.

Below are instructions for converting your steno files into PDFs.

Happy practicing.

How To Convert Steno Notes To PDF:
1. From the Manage Notes function, press Ctrl + p (or, the Print icon). The Print dialog box displays.

2. In the Printer Name field, select Stenograph PDF Printer.

3. Check the box Print to file. NOTE: If you don’t check this box, an error message will appear when you attempt to print the file.

4. Press Enter. The Print to File dialog box will display.

5. Select the location to where you want to save the PDF file. Then type a file name.

6. Press Enter (Save).

Love, Speed & Accuracy,

Elsie Villega

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December 24 2014

I Love Steno The Student Edition: Things To Know Before You Enroll In A For-Profit School

New York City’s website offers advice for citizens who are considering enrolling in for-profit schools. (Note: This advice is great for students who reside in any locality.) The site states: “As the number of enrollees continues to grow, there is concern about these schools’ high cost and aggressive marketing, especially when few students are graduating and few graduates are finding jobs. For-profit schools widely market their services on subways and buses, TV and radio, and in community and ethnic newspapers, but many students are unaware of the potential implications of enrolling in a for-profit school or of the free and low-cost education and training programs that are available.” also offers the following 10 tips to consider before enrolling in a for-profit school:

“(1) Free and low-cost education and training options are available.
There are many free and low-cost options for adult education and training.

(2) If a school or training program sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

(3) Research, research, research.
Consider multiple schools before deciding which one is right for you. Ask for information on graduation and completion rates, student loan debt, and whether or not the credits you get will transfer to other schools. Sit in on a class, ask to speak to former students who have completed the program, and read reviews from real students in the NYC Training Guide. Ask to see a list of employers that hire graduates, and call those businesses to ask their opinion of the school. You should also research the general field you’re interested in to make sure it’s the right fit and there’s potential for job availability and growth.

(4) Avoid unlicensed schools.
Some schools are operating illegally. Remember, even if a school has a license, it might not be well-run, so research the school before you sign up.

(5) Don’t sign up the day you visit a school.
Before you sign up, you need to understand how much the program will cost and how you will pay for it. Do not make such an important decision on the spot! Take your time, and research the school. Use our online resources below to learn more about specific schools and programs.

(6) Never sign anything you don’t understand.
If a school pressures you to sign a contract or agreement on the spot, walk away. You have the right to bring home important forms so you can read them more carefully and review them with people you trust.

(7) Ask for the school’s tuition cancellation policy in writing.
The policy should describe how you can get a refund if you need to cancel or withdraw. However, once you have signed up, it can be tough to get your money back.

(8) Be careful of taking on a lot of debt.
Some schools charge tens of thousands of dollars. Often, the “financial aid” that is available isn’t free money, but rather loans you have to pay back – with interest. School loans last a long time, and there’s a limit on how much money you can borrow. Loans can also lower your credit score if you don’t pay them back on time. Make sure you understand the terms and will be able to make the payments.

(9) Avoid schools that “guarantee employment” after you graduate.
A school can’t guarantee that you’ll get a job when you graduate. Many times, the schools that make these types of promises don’t actually place you in a job.

(10) You have the right to file a complaint.
Did you enroll in a school or training program but didn’t get what you were promised? You can file a complaint…In New York City, call 311, or contact 311 online.” In other jurisdictions, research your complaint options.

This is awesome advice!

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August 22 2014

I Love Steno: The Student Edition: Helpful Anxiety vs. Harmful Anxiety

As a student, the cycle of peaks, plateaus, and valleys can cause an emergence of nervousness and anxiety. This can be beneficial, or it could be detrimental. According to studies, there is “helpful anxiety” and “harmful anxiety.”

In “How The Brain Learns,” the author David A. Sousa states the following: “[The] level of concern refers to how much the student cares about the learning. We used to think that if students had anxiety about learning, then little or no learning occurred. But there is helpful anxiety (desire to do well) and there is harmful anxiety (feeling threatened). Having anxiety about your job performance will usually get you to put forth more effort to obtain positive results. When you are concerned about being more effective (helpful anxiety), you are likely to learn and try new strategies. This is an example of how emotions can increase learning…

As the level of concern increases, so does the degree of learning. If the stress level gets too high, our focus shifts to the emotions and the consequences generated by the stress, and learning fades. Students need a certain level of concern to stimulate their efforts to learn. When there is no concern, there is little or no learning. But if there is too much concern, anxiety shuts down the learning process and adverse emotions take over.”

Remember, keep an appropriate level of concern but RELAX and HAVE FUN!

Love, Speed & Accuracy,

Elsie Villega

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July 31 2014

I Love Steno: The Student Edition: Things To Do Before Working: Read & Edit Your Dictionary

When attempting to master any language, the most basic and wisest course of action is reading the dictionary for that language. I would argue that the same can be said for steno.

You should periodically read and edit your dictionary. I would especially advise reading and editing your dictionary at the point when you notice a drastic change in your writing style. Studying your dictionary at this pivotal period will reinforce the modifications that you have made to your writing, as well as encourage you to make mental notes of what you have chosen to “throw away” and what you have chosen to “keep.”

Personally, I have read and edited my dictionary in its entirety twice thus far. The first time was when I reached 180 WPM writing speed and realized that it would greatly benefit me to implement phrasing into my writing. The second time was after earning my AOD degree in court reporting. I want to bridge the gap between being a student and a working reporter.

As a student, your focus is often on gaining speed so that you can complete your school’s course of study within their allotted time parameters. Therefore, sometimes, there is neglect to methods of study that don’t focus on speedbuilding. I felt that in order to be a proficient working reporter, reading and editing my dictionary (among other things) was something I should concentrate on. Therefore, I dedicated a chunk of my time to this exhaustive endeavor.

At first, I was concerned that using a large percentage of my daily study time to once again become well acquainted with my dictionary would negatively affect my speed. However, I found that just the opposite occurred.

After completely reading and editing my dictionary, I had markedly less hesitation. I also felt a lot closer to being realtime ready. I felt very pleased and accomplished for building a strong realtime foundation (although I’m not totally doing realtime yet). I even got extremely nice compliments from reporters I sat in with who observed my screen while I was writing. (SIDEBAR: I have a small theater size laptop screen. They couldn’t miss it. Lol.)

Be sure in your quest for speed you don’t neglect your dictionary. You may not have the time to read your dictionary from beginning to end, but you can pace yourself. Even perusing a page full of definitions every few days can help your writing immensely.

Remember, dictionary study doesn’t solely include adding words to it. It also means having a working knowledge of what words, briefs, and phrases your dictionary contains; eliminating conflicts; coming up with a consistent writing pattern; and “taking out the junk.”

Love, Speed & Accuracy,

Elsie Villega

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July 23 2014

I Love Steno: The Student Edition- Working On Speed & Accuracy? Get Your Emotions In Check

Going through court reporting school can evoke a cornucopia of feelings and emotions. It’s important to enjoy the ride and put anything that may be causing you stress into a perspective that makes it manageable for you. Remember, everyday is progress! Everyday you commit to bettering your skill is a step forward, no matter what the present results may be.

There is a direct correlation between how you “feel” about being in school and about learning your new skill, and how effectively you learn. There have been many studies on this topic. According to, “How The Brain Learns,” “How a person ‘feels’ about a learning situation determines the amount of attention devoted to it. Emotions interact with reason to support or inhibit learning.” Scientists have also proven that stress can affect your ability to retain information and learn. “How The Brain Learns” also states, “The hippocampus is susceptible to stress hormones that can inhibit cognitive functioning and long-term memory.”

Trying to pass that speed test or master your theory? Relax!!!! Go enjoy your favorite activity. Exhale!!!! Don’t look at the learning process as a burden. Don’t look at it as something you can’t wait to be done with. Enjoy it, and revel in all of its twists and turns! Practice, practice, practice; then, treat yourself to a fun activity or outing.

Love, Speed & Accuracy,

Elsie Villega

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July 18 2014

I Love Steno: The Student Edition- Students, Know Your Rights

The starting point for any skill or career is learning the fundamentals. It is important that the enthusiasm of a novice drawn to learn a skill is complemented with a warm, proficient, and welcoming educational environment. This is especially true when it comes to a skill like stenography, which requires an immense amount of concentration and time to achieve mastery.

It is an unfortunate reality of society that there exists “educational institutions” that do not have the educational advancement of their students as their foremost goal. Some schools are primarily profit-seeking entities that expend a minimum amount of resources catering to the basic learning needs of their students.

A student should always be aware of their rights and various options of recourse should their rights be violated and their educational standards be left unmet.

Be sure to request that your school provides you with a written/published copy of their grievance policies. Also, be certain to get all other important school guidelines in writing. If a school is refusing to cooperate with your request to get their policies in writing, get their refusal in writing.

It is beneficial to communicate with school administrators in a manner that will document any promises or declarations that are made to you. For this reason, favor written communications over verbal communications.

Schools that are certified by the National Court Reporting Association (NCRA) must adhere to the “General Requirements and Minimum Standards (GRMS)” that are set by the NCRA’s Council on Approved Student Education (CASE).

The NCRA allows for the filing of complaints against member schools. However, they require you to accompany their complaint form with the “final written decision of the institution.” You must also cite the specific GRMS rule number that the court reporting program has allegedly violated. Be aware that filing a complaint via the NCRA also requires that the student signs a form stating that they “have received a copy of the complaint procedures,” and “agree to abide by them.” The complaint form also asks the student to agree to “disclose the contents of [the] complaint to the approved court reporting program complained against, the members of the Council on Approved Student Education Association directors, officers, and appropriate staff.” It should be noted that, “The NCRA Council on Approved Student Education will not consider and monetary disputes.”

The aforementioned courses of action are not your only options. If necessary, you may want to reach out to an education attorney. There are great legal sites, such as, that will list attorneys in your geographical area. This site also provides information for pro bono attorneys.

Also, be mindful that, according to, “The United States Department of Education monitors the distribution of federal financial aid for education, focuses national attention on key educational issues and ensures that students are given equal access to school programs.

Love, Speed & Accuracy,

Elsie Villega

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