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Steno Theory

Star Tran Realtime Theory

General Overview

Think of court reporting as your house. Theory is the foundation upon which your house is built. If it's built properly, your house will be something to admire. If's a house of cards, destined to collapse. StarTran Realtime Theory offers the most solid, logical and structured theory available.

StarTran Realtime Theory takes the long view towards your success. It starts by projecting realistic, attainable goals. Next, it shows students how to attain those goals in simple, efficient and encouraging ways. Written with 100% realtime in mind, StarTran teaches methodically through 40 Lessons, with students reaching speeds of 60-80 words-per-minute upon completion.

StarTran Realtime Theory is taught in the unique online platform call StarTran Online. It is a convenient, comprehensive, and affordable way to begin a court reporting career at home on your own time. The Lessons are presented by way of video, audio, and text. Help and feedback are provided at any time through email or telephone by instructor Marlene Struss, author of StarTran Realtime Theory.

Briefs - StarTran is considered a very "short" theory with many brief forms. Special emphasis is given to writing derivatives of basic briefs, especially if they are unusual in their form or pronunciation, as it is the variations of root words that often cause confusion. Each of the 40 StarTran Lessons contains brief forms which are reinforced in later lessons. StarTran briefs are easier to remember because they are consistent – they conform to the theory principles and are introduced in "families" of similar words.

While some students have an affinity for briefing, some do better writing things out. StarTran gives both types of students a chance to succeed. Starting with Lesson 12, students are encouraged to choose an acceptable alternate outline from the Reference Volume for any briefs they prefer not to use.

Multi-Stroke Words - A selection of multi-stroke words are practiced in every lesson starting with Lesson 12. Outline choices, from shortest to longest, are presented for consideration. Students will be able to write dense literary material by Lesson 32.

Punctuation - If punctuation is not inserted at slow, controlled speeds, it won’t find its way in at higher speeds. Starting with basic end punctuation, StarTran students learn to write all punctuation marks as they go through the lessons, including strokes for capping and compounding, writing time, money, and other number forms, quotes and dashes. Punctuation rules and proper use in court and deposition transcripts are explained with many examples. Use of punctuation is reinforced on the StarTran Audio Tracks through a unique method that trains learners to automatically insert correct punctuation.

Phrasing - One-stroke phrasing is the secret weapon for writing fast. However, if a student has to stop and wonder if a phrase is being used, the purpose of phrasing is defeated. In StarTran, a selective and limited number of "Phrase Elements" that are always okay to use are combined to ensure that students are adept at writing one-stroke phrases.

Conflict Resolution - In StarTran there is a “Conflict Resolution” section at the end of every lesson which presents nonconforming outlines for conflict words according to context and meaning. These words are reinforced in the practice material throughout the lessons and audios. In this manner, students have the double benefit of learning the meanings of words that often cause transcription errors and how to automatically resolve conflicts in their writing by the time they are finished with theory.

Transcript Writing – It’s important for theory students to understand the parts of a trial or deposition, to learn the process of identifying speakers, inserting blurbs, setting up witnesses, etc., in a controlled atmosphere. StarTran Advanced Theory is devoted to the writing of court and deposition proceedings. Every example in the text is appropriately formatted like a real transcript.

The Seven Steps to Success – It’s important to approach learning on several levels in order to create the strongest impression on the mind. At the start, StarTran students are given seven specific steps to follow throughout every lesson. These steps are based on the proven method of previewing, reading, memorizing, stroking from paper, stroking from audio, testing and reviewing.

Practice Habits – Court reporting students need inspiration and guidance. A short essay at the beginning of each lesson shares practical tips and information on stroking technique, organization of practice, studentship, testing, transcription, attitude, and much more.

Audio Lessons - A droning word-for-word reading from a textbook makes court reporting practice boring! StarTran offers high-quality entertaining audio material that reinforces/adds to the textbook material. Steno and English keys accompany all audio takes for convenient self-correction and feedback.

Testing - Success breeds success. StarTran students are "over prepared" for the tests at the end of each lesson. We push students beyond their comfort zone, giving them the extra skills they need to pass tests on the first try, not the twentieth. Once students have mastered the practice audios, they can expect to pass the slightly slower tests. This builds confidence and builds momentum for the next lesson.

CAT Dictionary – Every StarTran students has free access to a 90,000-entry CAT dictionary. There’s no reason students should have to start at square one when it comes to realtime translation. A highly functional realtime dictionary can take years to develop. With our free 90,000-entry CAT dictionary, students can walk right into any realtime job directly out of school knowing that their writing will translate at nearly 100%.

Support Materials for Students

StarTran Realtime Theory Set – Basic Theory, Advanced Theory, Reference Volume. Each of the 40 Lessons in Basic and Advanced Theory is thoroughly previewed in a video by the author as students advance through the StarTran Online program.

Basic Theory - 504 pages. Units I, II, III (Lessons 1-32). Suggested learning time is 13-26 weeks. Each lesson requires 10-15 hours total practice, including class time.

Advanced Theory - 194 pages. Unit IV (Lessons 33-40). This continues directly from Basic Theory. Suggested learning time is 4-8 weeks, with each lesson requiring 10-15 hours.

Reference Volume - 240 pages. Lists and cross-references all material from StarTran Realtime Theory, and more, in an easy-to-find format.

StarTran Lesson Audios - 40 90-minute recordings. UNITS I, II, III, IV, corresponding to Lessons 2-40, StarTran Realtime Basic and Advanced Theory. The practice portion of each audio contains the lesson material as well as unpracticed material that reinforces past and present lessons. This is followed by a Lesson Test, followed by an optional Speed Challenge section. In StarTran Online each Lesson's audio is presented in short takes of three to five minutes.

Class Dictation - Each Lesson is preceded by a "Class" section containing short takes of review and reinforcement material based on previous Lessons. At the end of the Class section, there is a "Class Test."

StarTran CAT Dictionary - 90,000 conflict-free entries. This is a fully mature, computerized realtime dictionary, formatted and/or convertible to all brands of CAT software. Free to official StarTran students and teachers.

MedCAT Dictionary - 7,500 conflict-free entries. This covers medical terms, prefixes, suffixes and roots for heavy medical jobs. It contains "sounds like" entries for better medical translation. This is to be used in conjunction with the StarTran CAT dictionary. Free to official StarTran students and teachers.


"I LOVE STARTRAN!! I love it, I love it, I love it! I would not be a court reporter today if it weren't for StarTran! I just cannot say enough wonderful things about it! I just think it is the best, the best, best theory ...out there!"
Ann Gunther, StarTran Graduate .

"Thank you so much! The whole StarTran theory was perfect for me. I'm now working as a court reporter in California!"
Trudi O'Brien, CSR

"Overall, I think your theory is the best, especially the organization and teaching part of it. The order in which you teach the keys and the thoroughness that you have covered prefixes, suffixes and compound elements is superb...Thanks again for all the help and encouragement."
Rhonda Zacharias, CSR, CRR

"Looking at the way that the different theories were taught, I was happy with the way that StarTran gave me what I needed to know up front. For example, when you learn theory, even from the first lesson in StarTran, you learn briefs and phrases of words, which other theories don't teach you at all. They teach you to write everything out and learn briefs and phrases after you have finished theory. In my experience, I found that I went through the speeds at a much faster rate because I wasn't having to look up specific briefs and phrases; most of them I had memorized already and came automatic to me. Also, the content of the material that you study is more relevant. StarTran teaches relevant vocabulary. And the book is kind of fun. At the beginning of each lesson, there's a little note of encouragement, which is very reassuring." 
Christina Rianda, CSR

"As a new theory teacher, I'm very pleased to be teaching StarTran court reporting theory. Everything is pretty much set up for you, and in my opinion it is a state-of-the-art realtime theory that I know will enable my students to compete with the best in the field."
Monica Hicks, CSR

"StarTran Theory is a remarkable piece of work. I am especially impressed with the Practice Habits at the beginning of each lesson. Those are brilliant."
Thomas Holub, CRI

"I am really happy with what I've learned. StarTran worked for me. It was not difficult at all learning the theory. It makes sense as you learn it and the chapters flow gradually."

Leigh S., StarTran Student

"I wanted to tell you I really like your study tips in your book. In fact, I went through the entire book and read through them all, and they are just great. And more importantly, they make sense to a beginning student."
Sue Hessen, StarTran Student

"I'm very glad I ordered StarTran. All of the materials are so well thought out, structured, and presented. The combination of the theory, reference, and instructor's manuals and your taped drills and instructions help me to feel confident that I'm learning the theory thoroughly and well and am reinforcing what I'm learning as I go along. For the student who's learning theory on their own, this seems about as close as you can get to being in a classroom with an experienced and skilled teacher. I really appreciate all of the thought, work, care, and skill you put into the StarTran materials. As I mentioned, I ordered a home-study court reporting course, and in terms of quality, your materials are just head and shoulders above that course. I've also ordered other theory and practice materials from various sources, and yours are just first-rate. I'm glad I found them."
Robert Abrams, StarTran Student

"I love StarTran Theory! It was very clear and made a lot of sense so I didn't need much help. The tapes were a challenge, but that's how you learn. I practiced about one to two hours a day and finished Basic and Advanced in about six months."
Leigh Ann Wade, StarTran Student

"Now that I'm in the field I see the conflicts and problems other reporters have and I'm more thankful than ever that I learned StarTran, a truly conflict-free realtime theory."

Sally Davis, CSR, RPR

"I'd like to offer my compliments and congratulation. I do particularly like the way your theory is presented, with sample exercises after each principle. Congratulations on a great idea!"
Grant Morrison, StenoType Tutor

"I love teaching this theory. It is very different from the one I learned years ago, but the way the material is presented makes it very easy to teach and easy for the students to learn. The backup lessons on the tapes and the lab gives them ample opportunity to practice and learn without having to spend hours in a classroom setting... All in all it is a wonderful program with fabulous tools to help me, as the teacher, help my students. Thanks for your help."
Melita Hiddle, StarTran Theory Instructor

"I was astonished at what they (my students) were able to do after three weeks. The theory is making perfect sense to them. They're reading back wonderfully. We are just about to wind up the semester. The course went well. One student has passed 50 wpm Q&A and will probably pass 60 wpm next week; another student has passed 80 wpm at 96+% and will probably be writing close to 120 by next semester (she has also passed a 50 wpm at 100%). They are all good phonetic writers and the theory seems to be working well for them. Yeah!!!!"
Debi Reinhart, CSR, Theory Instructor

"I find the briefs excellent and plan to use as many of the briefs and phrases as I can. The Reference Volume is very helpful and haven't required support from the author as yet. The materials are organized in an easy to understand manner. Reading ahead, especially the Practice Habits at the beginning of each lesson really helps. Just a note about the vowels -- they're excellent! It's great that you do lots of drills with them at the beginning. I don't know if this is standard in teaching stenotype theories, but your approach is very easy to understand."
Billy Sutherland, StarTran Student.

"I love my theory. I knew I had a good foundation, but didn't know how good until I transferred to a new school. At my new school they were surprised at how clean my notes were. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?"
Natalie Davies, CSR

"I am very impressed with the teaching technique of your lessons. It is quite obvious that you have many years of teaching experience, as quite a bit of what I read in your texts reflects exactly my thoughts. In many ways your theory is superior to the one I have been teaching."
Mona Cross, Program Director, Wilson College.

"I found a lot to like in StarTran. [Practice Habits] really point the students in the right direction and help keep them focused on the goal of achieving mastery of the steno machine. It is nice to find affirmation from an expert in the field. [Your theory] was very educational and actually enjoyable."
Ron Way, Theory Instructor, Houston Community College

"I have previously attended online realtime classes...where I studied Phoenix Theory. The comments on your website are absolutely true. StarTran is much better and easier to learn."
Val Jansen, StarTran Student

"I think your theory is superb, so superior that there wouldn't be any question about which to choose. I'm even incorporating some of it into my own writing!"
Judith Spriggs, Owner - Farr/Spriggs Reporting USA, Inc.

"StarTran is really conflict-free and thorough. I can see that students learning this theory will really have an advantage. You've really got an effective program."
Nina Rollins, CR Department Head, Central California School of Continuing Education

"I am impressed with how very thorough your theory is and how well it is presented."
Candace Bellamy, CSR, Instructor, Oklahoma City, OK

"I'm starting Lesson 10, and I absolutely love StarTran so far!! It makes much more sense to me than Phoenix."
Penny Beaver, StarTran Student

"I have found StarTran Realtime Theory to be a very well-designed, streamlined system of writing . It was easy to learn, and the Practice Habits give valuable advice and support that really helps."
Dawn Fisher, StarTran Student

"I am so happy that I found StarTran! I was looking for an online program after the school I was attending did not offer the program anymore. I looked at all the different options and chose StarTran, and it has turned out to be Awesome. Mrs. Marlene is Amazing! She is very easy to talk to and very encouraging. I am still in the beginning stages, but I am learning so much and having fun with it."
Sandra Sparks, StarTran Student

Please visit our website for more testimonials and information about StarTran Realtime Theory.

Contact Information:

StarTran Realtime Theory – Marlene Struss
Santa Barbara Court Reporting Clinic
4025 State St. #13
Santa Barbara, CA 93110