I always wanted to ask people who know or learn several languages: how do you type in all these languages on the same computer? Do you touch-type or do you use a screen keyboard? Do you have several keyboard layouts installed and switch them every time you need it or do you have one “combined” layout which allows you to type in several languages without switching?
I tried to make non-standard, “combined” layouts for myself at home (one for several Cyrillic-script Slavic languages) but was disappointed because when I needed to type on a computer and this computer wasn’t my own, there were only standard layouts installed, and I could not use my new skills.
And also I have some questions about touch-typing in general. When you read and then retype texts using the touch-type technique, trying not to make any mistakes, does it help you to improve your writing skills? Do you write more easily due to such exercises? I recently found that this technique helps but do not have enough experience by this moment. And what software do you use for such “retypings” or “dictations”? Is it a standard text editor or a specialized error-proofing program?
I know a computer program which is widely used by Russians and Ukrainians for mastering touch-type technique in Russian, Ukrainian, English, German and Italian. It is called Ergosolo: http://ergosolo.ru/ for offline version, and http://nabiraem.ru/ for online verison of trainer. The online version is a community website where competitors in touch-typing meet. It resembles social networks a little. Those who know Russian may find these sites interesting, because their founder, Vladimir Shahidzhanyan, is a famous Russian journalist, psychologist and university professor and he has collected many interesting articles and videos on his personal site http://1001.ru/ . Unfortunately, the very little part of this content is presented in both text and audio/video format, it is either text or multimedia, but the content itself is interesting, and the same is true about its author as a person.
Anyway, my goal is not to promote Shahidzhanyan’s sites but to find a program or a technique which can help me write better and faster in foreign languages. I tested Ergosolo and found it fit for me in some aspects, but not ideally. It does not allow a learner to make mistakes, providing various punishments, growing more severe for repeated mistakes (to retype a line, a block of lines, a whole text). Its benefits are error-proofing and its interface: a learner sees not only one line of text, as it is in most keyboard trainers, but a paragraph (4-6 lines depending on your screen size) of source text and a paragraph of text being typed by them, which also trains their visual memory (this is really so, I’ve tested it). It is useful. But the drawback of the program is that it doesn’t allow to upload custom texts into it. The original texts are a little boring, I’d like to upload my favourite stories or LingQ lessons into there, but I can’t.
Here is a screenshot of nabiraem.ru online keyboard trainer: http://img709.imageshack.us/img709/9664/ergosolo.jpg
Honestly, I’d like to know what LingQ founders think about touch-typing and LingQ combination. Isn’t it very hard to make an online keyboard trainer tool for LingQ with an interface resembling Ergosolo a little (1. Source text section; 2. Text being typed; 3. Keyboard layout for reference)? It could be linked with any LingQ lesson or its fragment, or imported text, allowing the learner to train touch-typing while listening and reading the text. I think this can be a useful addition to LingQ writing tools which can help a LingQ member improve their writing skills even faster than only using tools that are already present. Soon after starting touch-typing practice a learner would become more active on the Forums. I think there will be no need to introduce punishments for learners who do not manage or do not want to touch-type very well, but there may be little awards for those who reach a certain level. And of course, with that tool on LingQ one could save on a separate keyboard trainer subscription!
Steve, Mark and all my LingQ fellows, what do you think? I know, I know, you have very limited resourses, but maybe some of our community members who are familiar with programming may act as volunteers or for a pay a little less than standard?