Learning Code

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by N4QFY, Apr 11, 2016.

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  1. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    So any kind of counting is bad? Really? I don't think it matters. At all!

    I can clearly remember learning CW in the RN. No fancy method there. Here's the letters, heres the CW, learn it by monday.

    It really doesn't make any difference whether you 'count' or not, because within a very short time you'll learn to recognise the sound regardless. I think telling people to not count, may indeed slow up their initial progress because in their attempt to not count they'll simply miss loads of letters or make wild and incorrect guesses.

    We generally didn't discuss how we learned, we just sort of got on with it, I can't recall anyone having real problems and certainly in all the time I was learning CW I can't recall anyone at all failing to learn. I don't mind admitting that for the 1st few weeks of training I was consistently behind the others in class but after several weeks I caught up with the others and eventually out did many of my class mates.

    I can certainly remember counting U's & V's and B's & D's when I started just to make sure I'd got the right number of dits before writing the appropriate letter down. S & H coming last to perfect.

    Once you have been doing it for a short while, the sound differences between the letters just becomes automatic, whether you like it or not. It must be a bit like riding a bike. At first you really, really think about balancing (consciously competent) but it becomes automatic and once learned you never think about balance (unconsciously competent)

    I not sure telling learners to avoid a natural and automatic stage in their learning actually helps at all. Image telling someone not to think about balance when they start learning a bike for example?
  2. KM9R

    KM9R Ham Member QRZ Page

    Counting results in a two step transposition. Audio to symbol to character. Direct association of audio to character is better. It omits the middle man who just slows the process. He has no added value.
  3. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've never ever met anyone who was taught by the military or the mercantile marine who ever learned CW by any other method than simply starting off learning the characters and then gradually increasing the speed until the desired speed was achieved. This included those who later went on to read Russian, Chinese &/or Arabic CW at speeds of around 36wpm. (I too was one of those).

    Although I can distinctly remembering the cards we were given ("Learn this by monday lads"), being teenagers we didn't learn the lot and that the instructor started us off on a handful of characters at a time.

    But without exception no one I've ever met who was in the military or civilian and taught cw ever started off learning the sound a letter makes rather than leaning the characters first. Koch/farnsworthy methods have been around for many years before I joined up and I'd be very surprised that the military or civilian companies such as Marconi would have ignored better/faster methods of teaching.

    I am not saying that other methods don't work for some people, just that the majority of people seem to be taught by the traditional method.

    I can certainly recall that when I went up to 36wpm having to rerun some of the characters such as s,h & 5 through my head again and count the dots to make sure I was accurate when I first started until confident and then the sound difference was good enough for me to simple write s,h or 5. through the 'rhythm' or sound. Ultimately there is no short cut to increasing speed other than what every says. Practice, practice and a bit more. And of course you soon learn to recognise the sound of each character rather than count dits/dashes anyway.

    Cutting out the middle man? As I said in my previous post, once you have learned the characters then after a short while you don't anyway. So once you've learned the characters you end up cutting out the middle man anyway. Thats why you can go faster!!! You recognise the sounds! Personally I can remember being rather alarmed when the instructor played CW at 20wpm on our 1st day. I couldn't even tell the dits from the dahs. I'd have never have passed without learning the characters that way.
  4. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is no easy way except to make yourself do it... It does not happen overnight.
    WB5YUZ and AB8MA like this.
  5. AB8MA

    AB8MA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Making yourself do it is the hard part. Doing it is easy.

    Don't cram.
  6. KW6LA

    KW6LA Ham Member QRZ Page

  7. KM9R

    KM9R Ham Member QRZ Page

    When I self taught myself code in the late 70's, I counted and it was a waste of time/poor operating technique as I progressed. My friend who did not count and learned via direct sound association became proficient in code much quicker than I. Just one example w/o doubt but common sense should even tell you why there was such a difference in results.

    I might meet you half way if you agree that -… = dah dit dit dit and not one dash plus three dots which was the traditional way of teaching which was utter gibberish. In other words, the symbol also represents a sound, but why even go there when the middle man is not required.
    Last edited: May 26, 2016
  8. M6GYU

    M6GYU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well Michael,now you've put it like that+ Dah dit dit dit as apposed to -... (one dash and three dots) then perhaps we're talking about the same thing. We certainly did not talk or learn using the latter. Just Dah, dit dit dit is B. We certainly did not have anyone tell us B or C was one dash, one dot dash and another dot sort of thing. And as I hope I made clear even if you were tempted to count, then after a short while you soon learned B was, as you said, Dah, dit dit dit.


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