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Author Topic: Code S -P --E ---E -----D  (Read 700 times)
NL7GB
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« on: June 07, 2004, 02:49:53 PM »

"Koch method", "Farnsworth spacing" -- Terms I've learned since coming back to the hobby.  Now that I have all of these neat software tools for improving code speed, I am wondering about learning at different speeds, and would like to throw out a couple of questions.

I do about 13 wpm now, but would like to go faster.  How fast a jump should I try?  If I set the character speed at X wpm and set the inter-character spacing to lower the realized speed to Y wpm, what should I do when I am able to get solid copy?  Should I continue to practice and increase Y until it equals X before I try a new increase in X?  

My daughter is at about 2.5 wpm, knowing all the characters now, but only able to copy at dead slow.  What would be the right settings for her with this newfangled software?  I am planning on g4fon set for a 15 wpm character speed and a 6 wpm realized speed, just for her to pass her Amateur exam.  Does this seem right, or should she start higher?  If she learns at a really high character speed, say 25 wpm, will she be functional at 5 wpm?

Any warnings or advice would be welcome.

TNX DE DAVE
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N8UZE
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« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2004, 03:15:11 PM »

For your daughter, set it up to simulate the way the test will be sent.

Character speed = 15wpm
Word speed = 5wpm
Tone = 750hz

If she is copying "dead slow" as you put it, she may be counting and translating dots and dashes rather than directly associating the letter with the sound.  This makes for very slow copy.  Follow the G4FON instructions exactly.  Drill on 2 characters until the copy is 90% accurate.  Then add a 3rd character and once again drill on all three characters until the copy is 90% accurate and so on.

As for increasing your own code speed, here is what I recommend.  Set the character speed on your goal and practice at that speed, gradually increasing the word speed as you improve.  For example, if you want to contest, US contest operators run between 20 and  25wpm while the foreign ops tend to run slightly faster.  So if your goal is 25wpm so you can contest, set the character speed at 25wpm and the word speed at your current comfort level as you get used to the character speed, gradually increase the word speed.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2004, 06:49:49 PM »

I disagree.

You didn't say how old your daughter is, but if she's old enough to want to learn the code, then she's old enough to use a method that works much better than G4FON or any other teaching method: That is, set her up with a code key and oscillator, and yourself up with another one.

You send to her using standard text (not letter groups)about a subject in which she is interested; then, she sends to you.  Then, you send back to her.  Start out at any speed where she can copy maybe 10% of what you're sending, and increase it from there.

If you're really able to copy and send 13 wpm reasonably well, she should be up to your speed in less than two weeks as long as you do the send/receive practice 30 minutes a day.

I've absolutely never seen this fail, and this is the only method I ever use when teaching code to students.  Nobody drops out, everybody learns, and interactive practice is estimated to be almost sixty times more effective than passive ("listening") practice, per a study by Psychology Today magazine in 1999 where they compared study methods for learning a new language.

WB2WIK/6
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NL7GB
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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2004, 05:01:45 AM »

I am doing both computer training and practicing back and forth with my daughter.  I am setting her software for 15/6 and mine for 25/15.
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N8UZE
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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2004, 12:10:45 PM »

To WB2WIK,

Although interactive practice may be the way to go, there are very few instructors who can spend 30 minutes per day every day with their students in a practice session.  Most can only do one session per week.  Unless the student takes the initiative to study during the week, much of the material is forgotten.

The G4FON software is based on research documented in "The Art & Skill of Radiotelegraphy".  The approach avoids the pitfalls of plateaus, forgetting letters, mixing up letters etc.  Although the research was done decades ago, it wasn't practical to implement on a widespread basis until the availability of home computers.

Another all too common problem with interactive practice is that some of the people teaching are not all that consistent in their quality of code.  According to the book referenced above, students are most successful if they hear correctly sent code in the learning stages and once secure in the basics start working on copying less than perfect code.

Interactive is indeed good but the instructor needs to be aware of the many potential pitfalls such as the limnited examples mentioned above.  What I have found to work well is to "assign" the students to practice daily using the recommended software.  Then each week in class, work interactively.  In the final class session, we run a sample similar to what they will experience on the test so they exposure to what the test will be like.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2004, 03:14:30 PM »

N8UZE, I hear you, but simply don't agree.

As for "The Art & Skill" paper, you'll note I was a contributing editor to that and am quoted several times therein, providing real-life case studies by name.

For interactive study, no instructor is required.  Only two students.  And that's what usually works far better than any instructor, for valid reasons:

-As you say, an instructor is rarely available 30 minutes daily;

-Two students learning together usually begin at ground zero and thus on the same plane; if one progresses faster than the other, the spirit of competition becomes a valuable resource and incentivizes the slower student to catch up;

-Two students working together will invent other interactive mechanisms for learning; none of which will be new, but each of which will be new for them.

I learned the code by practicing with a school friend in 7th grade.  We both were mildly interested in becoming hams and thought learning the code would be cool.  We began carrying a slip of paper showing the alphabet, numbers and a few punctuation signs with the dots and dashes printed next to each, and as we walked to school in the morning, or home from school in the afternoon, we would "dit" and "dah" send auto license plates to each other.  Then, maybe street signs.  Then, maybe anything we could think of.

Without ever actually hearing any code sent or ever touching a code key, we became proficient at sending and receiving code using the mouthed "dits" and "dahs" that require zero equipment, and can be used while walking, running, driving in the car or anywhere else.  They can even be mouthed in the library, if you keep it quiet.

We both got up to probably 10 wpm or so in a couple of weeks without ever actually hearing the tone of a single code letter.  That made it exceptionally easy to progress to keys and oscillators.

I have absolutely never found any "modern" method of teaching code that works better than pure interactive study by two partners, and it doesn't really matter if the two partners are starting with no previous knowledge or experience or not.  In some ways, it's better if they don't.  However, a desire to actually learn the code surely helps!

WB2WIK/6
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NL7GB
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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2004, 12:12:38 AM »

My daughter and I are doing interactive as well as computer-assisted practice.  It is too soon to see what our progress is like just yet.

When my dad was trained in Morse during WWII, the students would not talk english to each other, but rather, spell everything out using code in an "immersion" sort of code training.

My Dad could do this "voice-keying"really fast, and would use the words "DA", "DUM", "DI", "DIT", and "DITTY".  For example, "QRZ?" might be voiced as DAHDAHDIDAH DIDAHDIT DAHDAHDIDIT DITTYDUMDUMDITTY.  He would do this with his lips barely open and his tougue flicking back and forth on the roof of his mouth.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2004, 01:10:24 PM »

NL7GB, you're surely on the right track and the method your Dad used in WW2 is the same method my "study buddy" and I used back in grammar school days -- although, of course, we thought we invented it.  That makes it much cooler, when you think you invented something.

I can still "send" about 30 wpm using only "dit-dahs" and my mouth, and probably so can anyone who learned this way.  It's extremely effective.  And so is using only code, and not actual lanuguage, to hold all conversations during study time.

If you ever took a language in high school or college, you know that's the way they do it.  From the moment you're seated in class, until the ending bell rings, no English is spoken in most really good foreign language classes.  In my case, that started on the very first day, before anyone in the class knew a single word of the language we were studying (in my case, German).  We all winged it until we could actually make sentences.

WB2WIK/6
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W4YA
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« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2004, 03:05:50 PM »

I agree with N8UZE with one exception. Let's assume that your goal is 25 WPM. Instead of creaping up on it a few WPM at a time, why not set G4FON to 25 WPM and forget about all the steps between where you are now and 25 WPM? In other words, just do it once.

G4FON is such a fantastic program, and you can set your initial learning speed anywhere. Initially learning at 5 WPM and increasing to 25 WPM in 5 WPM increments is five times more difficult than initially learning at 25 WPM!

In any event, my advice is to learn to COPY code, not SEND it!
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N8UZE
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« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2004, 05:39:14 PM »

To W4YA:

I did say to set the software at his final goal.  For example, if his goal is 25wpm, then set the character speed at that with a slower word speed to space out the characters, which will still be at 25wpm setting.  As one develops reflexes to copy charaters at this 25wpm charactersspeed, one decreases the spacing between letters until they can copy whole groups of letters or words at this speed.
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