Transcription is the process of converting spoken or recorded speech into text, usually in digital form on a computer for easy editing, manipulation, and redistribution. One can get transcription practice from a variety of different sources, though few offer any actual certification to indicate the development of transcription skills. The simplest way to get transcription practice is to play a recording of a speech and try to transcribe it as well as possible while listening to it once, all the way through. Afterward, one can repeat various sections in order to check his transcription work. For more complicated practice, one can also transcribe movies and television shows — this is more advanced work because it requires the transcriber to keep track of several speakers.
There are several factors that contribute to effective transcription practice. The piece that one is attempting to transcribe must be challenging but still understandable enough to allow for transcription. One will seldom be professionally called upon to transcribe slow, clear speech, so practicing on slow, clear recordings is only useful if one needs to develop rudimentary transcription skills. Recordings that demonstrate more realistic speech speeds and patterns provide much more useful and realistic practice. Transcription practice involving multiple speakers can also be beneficial, as professional transcribers are often called upon to transcribe dialogues such as debates and official meetings.
When choosing what material to use for transcription practice, it is also important to consider how easy it will be for one to check his work. This is very easy when a transcript of a given recording already exists, but this is seldom the case. At the very least, one must be able to rewind and replay sections of a recording in order to ensure that he has made an accurate transcript. Without the ability to check one's work, it is impossible to verify the accuracy of the transcript. This is not an issue if one's transcription practice is directed at increasing speed rather than accuracy.
Some colleges, businesses, and other organizations offer transcription practice in formal classroom settings. Such classes generally cost money, but they do offer personalized training and tend to result in some form of official certification. Such certification can be useful for individuals looking for transcription work. Classes also tend to offer a variety of practice recordings, and teachers or assistants often correct student transcripts and provide suggestions for improvement. Official certification that one can show to employers tends to be the most tangible benefit of such formal transcription practice programs.