A Better Way ?
OK - Here's the Plan
Remember back when you were about two years old. You wanted a cookie, really badly, so you learned to say to your mom "COOKIE" You didn't say "Mom, I'd really like to have a cookie, please." And you didn't spell out the word "COOKIE" as "C--O--O--K--I--E". You just blurted out the word "COOKIE!" And, since you got your cookie, you thought that was very neat indeed, and learned more words - many thousands of them in fact. You started learning some grammar a bit later. And you started learning to read, write and spell much later.
This worked so very well that we will use the same plan to learn code.
We are NOT going to learn the code for the individual letters, numbers, punctuation, etc.
What we ARE going to do is learn to recognize entire words by sound.
We are not interested in dots, dashes, dits or dahs. We are, at this time, only interested in those entire words.
Obviously, some words are single characters, such as the words "A" and "I." So we will be learning some individual letters as we move along, but keep in mind that that is not the real thrust of what we are doing here.
We have here a word frequency list of the 41,284 words most commonly used English words, with words appearing in the order of their frequency. Each word is recorded at 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80 WPM. Since this is a sound only course, you will hear each word in code twice, and, in between, the word pronounced in my best Texas accent, and with a 250 millisecond pause between code, voice, code.
Why only a quarter second pause? To make very sure you don't have time to think between hearing code and the voice and the code. And the lowest speed of 40 WPM is for the exact same reason. To make sure you can't count dits and dahs. Even so, some very few people can still count at that speed. Maybe we should have started at 60 WPM !
To disambiguate certain words, they will be pronounced, followed by a clarification. E.g., the word "TO" will be pronounced as "TO, the preposition." The word "TOO" will be pronounced as "TOO, the adverb." The word "TWO" will be pronounced as "TWO, the numeral." Etc. . . .
Arbitrarily, words such as "QTH" will NOT be pronounced as "Q-T-H," but rather as "LOCATION." Others, such as "QRM" and "QRN" will be pronounced as is to distinguish between man-made and natural interference. This is quite natural when you think about it, just as when you come across an abbreviation while reading text, you mentally substitute the whole word.
If it sounds OK up till now, let's get on with how best to proceed ---
1. Download some or all of the wordlists.
2. Learn the words in order, but taking them 10 or so at a time.
3. Practice those ten words until you have them ABSOLUTELY memorized with no hesitation and no doubts. You MUST be able to say the word aloud at the same time as, or even slightly before, the recorded voice.
4. Practice the words at all five speeds, 40 through 80 WPM.
5. Then, and only then, starting working on the next ten words.
6. Frequently review ALL words learned to date.
7. As an exercise in masochism, you might try remembering each word and mentally hearing its code at all speeds.
Afterwards, some Afterwords
Read all the books and articles listed in the Code URLs section again.
Do a lot of listening on the bands at ALL speeds, until you are comfortable with every speed.
If for some strange reason you don't plan to used keyboard keying, AND if you don't already do some manual keying, do wait to start practicing manual keying until after you've learned at least the top thousand words or so, as this will facilitate learning to send well.
If you have access to one of the robots such as the MFJ-461 ($90), use that as a check on your sending quality. If the machine can copy your sending, you can't be too bad. Also, CWGet v2.25 (30 day free trial - $35 to register) can check your sending.
Drop me a line when you've learned all 41K+ words (or at least as many as you'd like to learn). I'd like to hear about your experiences.
Please send your complaints not to /dev/null, but rather to me - I need to know what you don't like so that it can possibly be remedied.
Thanks for trying it out.