Learning by listening + adaptive drills

Bookmarks are inserted in all the books you access, so don’t hesitate to switch to a different book. You can always come back to where you left off and continue from there or start from the beginning.

Try to spend about an hour a day listening to your novel(s) and practicing with CheX. If you don’t have that much time, half an hour could be sufficient. If you need to learn code before a deadline (a test?) increase your total session time to two hours per day.tutor

Make use of CheX after every listening session. Active use of CheX complements passive listening and is a vital component of the MorseFusion method. This code tutor will drill you relentlessly on your selected Morse characters. In fact, it will recognize the ones you’re having trouble with and provide extra practice with them until you get them right every time.

CheX was designed to increase your brain’s retentive ability. To that end, you can’t enter characters via your PC’s keyboard — you have to use your mouse to click on the characters you hear. The “hunting and pecking” forces you to associate Morse code sounds with their visual representation of the symbol. The sole purpose of MorseFusion is to train your brain to depend entirely on its natural ability, not on paper and pencil . . . or your typing skills!

Remember that several short sessions spread over the course of a day are far more effective than one or two long sessions. Your brain needs time to absorb and consolidate what it has learned. You will also benefit by taking a day off once a week.

The day will soon come when you will be listening to the book with all characters sent in Morse code at 15 wpm, 100% of the time.

But you will not be done just yet…

You see, there is a bit of an issue in knowing Morse code at only one speed: It is very unlikely that any code you will run across will be sent at exactly 15 wpm. So odds are that what you will hear will seem somewhat foreign.

Arguably, about 80-90% of the conversational QSO (ragchew) code heard on the amateur radio bands without hardware/software assistance falls in the range of 15 to 30 wpm. There is code sent at less than 10 wpm, which is tantamount to counting individual dots and dashes, and code sent at 50 or 60 wpm but usually with keyboards and decoding software.

So you need to move up from 15 wpm and tackle 20 wpm, the next higher speed. That is easy to do when compared to what you’ve already accomplished. Simply throttle down the percent of code from 100% to, say, 20% and continue reading your book at the higher speed. You will find to your amazement that you’re not missing very much, if any at all! So gradually increase your percentage to 100%. But keep going back to 15 wpm for about a third of the time so you don’t get rusty at the lower speed. Very quickly you will be equally comfortable at both speeds. And your brain will accommodate any speed in between.

Repeat the process all the way to 30 wpm. Don’t be afraid! 30 wpm is only twice as fast as 15 wpm. But always practice at all the lower speeds. The goal is to be fluent over a 1:2 range. Once you can do this, you will be more proficient than 99.9% of people who know code!

The icing on the cake is that you will have read a good book. Or several books, depending on how fast you learn.

Two important items need mention:

The first is that the frequency of occurrence of letters in the English language is not uniform. For example: e, t, a, o, i, n, s, h, and r occur more than 5% of the time and that’s just a wonderful thing. But the occurrence of k, j, x, q, and z is less than 1%. In fact, q and z show up less than 0.1% of the time. So you would find it difficult to learn these from listening to books because they simply don’t appear often enough.

Use CheX to remedy the situation by specifically selecting these letters. In addition, a selection appears towards the bottom of the book list entitled “Letters Seldom Heard.” Each word is an actual real word and contains one or more of the low-probability letters. Be sure to devote some time to these words even though they won’t entertain you with a story. But they will help you win a game of Scrabble® because they contain the highest-value letters!

A different issue arises with numbers. The problem with them is that any one digit (or sequence of digits) is normally devoid of contextual meaning.Napoleon on horseback

For example, unless you are a serious history buff, you would not be aware that descriptions of the Battle of Waterloo would invariably mention June 18, 1815. Or that you have indeed correctly decoded the date. Again, use CheX to get your daily dose of numbers training.

At the bottom of the book selections you will find “Call Signs and Email.” It is designed to give you ample practice with numbers and the “/” and “@” symbols. The slash is used frequently in amateur radio and “@” brings Morse code into the twenty-first century — with its penchant for exchanging email addresses.

A special format was developed to learn to read call signs and email addresses within at least some minimal context:

Each character sequence consists of a common word with a random digit inserted somewhere within the word, followed by  ”/” or  ”@” and suffixed with the embedded digit spelled in letters. This provides immediate feedback on whether or not you have read the number correctly.  This combination effectively simulates call signs and email addresses but within the framework of ordinary words. (Typical call signs carry about as much contextual meaning as automobile license plates!)

Contrary to earlier admonitions, you should consider increasing the spacing between words to 4x and writing down the sequence of characters. After all, this is what you would normally do in the course of a QSO (or a phone conversation).

Make sure you include this ancillary material and CheX in your study regimen — numbers are usually important and you simply have to get them 100% right!

Once you know Morse code, you can maintain and enhance your well earned skill by continuing to read the novels at various speeds at 100% code.

All you need to do is pick a novel, check all the boxes and set the percentage to 100%.