SUGGESTION: Easier accent marks
Currently, to type accented characters, you have to either use your mouse to click a button on screen, copy a character to your clipboard and paste it, or switch your keyboard layout. All these are a bit inconvenient, in different ways.
I suggest making it so that when you type ` + e, it turns into è automatically, for example. I would find this particularly useful in Italian, since è and à are used fairly often.
I'd also like to point out that although there may be alt codes for these characters, these are for Windows only, and I think this should be something that works system-wide. (I happen to use Ubuntu)
EDIT: Use the Google Input Tools extension. Switch it to US international. Italian and Spanish will be good to go, French, German, and Portuguese are mostly usable.
I do not know how easily implemented this is (and now I really want to poke with it), but I do like how, for Google Translate, if you click on the keyboard, it shows you the localized keyboard for the language you are typing in, and co-opts your keyboard into matching the keyboard shown, but only in that one text box. I personally like that it also motivates you to learn how to type in the language you are looking for a translation in. I have found myself wishing that Duo had that as well, when I am using the site from a computer and not a device.
I use a Mac, so I don't know the commands for other systems but here it's very easy to type accents with no special keyboard:
option+e = ´
option+i = ˆ
option+u = ¨
All of these commands will give you the accent mark highlighted, and then you simply type the letter you want accented without any space. So to type é, do option+e, then e.
Other special characters (I don't them for other languages, maybe someone will help fill it in):
option+c = ç
option+s = ß
personally I've changed my keyboard layout on the pc as it's very easy to switch between languages and makes it more natural. On my phone it's very easy to add accents by holding down the letter you want. Can you not simply change your keyboard layout and learn to type like an Italian? :)
This is not so simple for those of us who use the Dvorak layout. I believe I would need to modify the Windows registry again. (I did it once before for Japanese.) Switching the layout is easy. Switching the keymap is a bit of a bother.
Yes, with the dvorak keyboard I can imagine it would be a tiresome task! Though I believe the vast majority of people will be using the standard qwerty keyboard, so can take advantage of a simple change. It took me a couple of days to get used to where the accent keys work etc. but has made a huge difference to my typing exercises, cutting out the frustration of clicking on the buttons provided. For anyone looking to do so on windows 7, it's simply a case of going to control panel > change keyboards or other input methods > click on "change keyboards" > then simply add the language choice you require (I have "Spanish (spain, international sort)). This will give you a language bar in your notification are of you're desktop which you can easily use to switch between languages.
I'm using a greasemonkey script that accepts ctrl+accent, which is not quite as easy but definitely better than having to click a button with the mouse. Hmm... wonder how hard it would be to modify it to not require ctrl. Maybe I'll have a look tomorrow.
You could consider installing the IME if you use Windows. If you add the US-international keyboard layout (which can be toggled in the IME at any time, switching to whatever you usually use) is useful for easily typing accents, umlauts, etc.
This is also useful if you wish to be able to type these characters, outside Duolingo. Here is a quick link to a Microsoft article on how to use/install this: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306560
Sorry, I've no idea how to handle things for those who use Windows 8 (I still use XP), but I'm sure a simple websearch could answer any questions.
Windows 8: Control Panel -> Language. If you want to add the US International keyboard, select English and click "Options", then "Add an input method", then add "United States-International", then save the change. You can also add other languages or keyboard layouts if you want.
Windows key + space will cycle through your enabled input methods (Win + Shift + space to cycle backwards). You can also click on the language bar, which is the little thing in your taskbar showing the code for the currently used language and/or layout (e.g. "ENG" or "ENG INTL"), to change input method or get back into the settings.
The person uses Ubuntu, and there is a sufficient international keyboard.
Ah, I see, right you are.
I must have missed that last sentence somehow, on first reading.
Hopefully my post might be helpful for Windows users reading, anyway.
Keyboard in top right
Keyboard layout settings
, + sign
Tell me if you have questions
Well, as a matter of fact, I use a Chrome extension that can switch keyboard layouts.The thing is, US international doesn't seem to do anything different from the English keyboard.
EDIT: Scratch that, it does work. I never noticed before somehow. I can type ` + e and it does è.
Personally I think if you want to be committed to learning a language in the long run switching your keyboard layout is a good investment, and it only takes 2 minutes to find the setting the first time (after that you can use a hotkey or have it pinned to the taskbar). I don't believe this should be Duolingo's job to implement. When I chat with my Spanish friends on Facebook I just double click the keyboard button on my taskbar to switch to the Spanish keyboard in order to continue the conversation in realtime.
TL;DR: The people who natively speak your target language don't use an English keyboard, so I don't think it's reasonable to complain about having to switch over.
Changing your keyboard layout is not the same as using an actual physical keyboard from a different country. If I'm still using a US keyboard, I need the keys to make sense. I think the US international layout is just about perfect for this. (Although I still don't know how to type a few German and Portuguese characters.)
Right Alt + s gets you ß, ^ + e gets you ê, etc.
I agree, it could be something like Google's implementation of the US International layout, which you can try out on Google Translate:
Click the little arrow next to the keyboard icon in the bottom-left of the left text area, select "US International", and when you type 'e in the text area you should get é.
Of course DL could come up with their own key combos if they don't like the US International layout ones. (It's a little awkward typing c'est in French, for example, since you have to press space after the ' to avoid getting cést.)
I'm probably part of a tiny minority, but I don't use qwerty. I switched to Dvorak on a whim and stayed with it because it doesn't cause the carpal tunnel pain I used to get. I like the idea, but I can't type in a qwerty layout anymore without looking at the keyboard, which would make me very slow.
Well, I'll be. The picture of the layout had me confused, but you're right. Thank you for setting me straight. This will make my life a bit easier. :)
This is a great suggestion! It would be most helpful for us all!
(Is there a code for the Umlaut?)
If you are using the international keyboard, the way to get an umlaut is press the single quote (shift - apostrophe), then let go and press your letter, such as u or a, and it will have an umlaut. Like this äïëöü
(Okay, it sort of worked, but now it's not showing up on my end?!)
And would I do some thing similar for 'ß'?
I would like it if I could use the arrow keys to scroll through different accented forms of a letter. For example, I type the letter E and then the up arrow and my E turns into an É. I hit the up arrow again, and it changes to È and so on. Also, I like the idea that the original poster has of typing '+e to get é. To expand on this, when typing in German, it would be helpful if :+u or "+u came out as ü.
There is also this thread, which is beginning to collect visual step by step guides made by Duolingoers for Duilingoers on how to change keyboards on various platforms. I just changed my so I could get the Spanish á í ú é ú Ñ
revdolphin posted a link from this forum over there, and i wanted to share a link from that forum here. :)
Don't what percentage of people on Duo use touchscreens, but it is very easy to add accents on, for example, my iPad Mini.
In fact any tablet has the ability to produce an accent easily, just by hovering on a key.
I use a MacBook and I have found that option + e = ´ and you can type something under it. If you want more just ask me. There is a way to make ˜ , ¿ , ¨ , ˚ , and more. I'd like to point out that I don't use Windows.
On Mac it's also quite easy to add a german keyboard. I now only have to click the little flag on my toolbar to switch to German.
I use the accents as a chance for me to learn (memorise) the various ways to use them. So for French using a US keyboard layout I do the Alt + 131 (etc) keyboard combinations... Excellent practice.
In Windows it is possible to use ALT+NUMBER, but sometimes it escapes to home page clearing your current progress. I think it is a bug.
Details about combinations are here http://kostian4ik.blogspot.ru/2013/08/windows.html
Yeah, I've now finally discovered the usefulness of the US International keyboard.
I use Linux too, and I find its built-in compose key feature to be vastly more usable than Windows' alt codes. After mapping the nearly useless "context menu" key as my compose key, I can now use intuitive combinations such as:
è = Menu + ` + e
ñ = Menu + ~ + n
ß = Menu + s + s
ç = Menu + , + c
When it comes to typing accents, Mac OS Lion has made it so easy. Holding down a key followed by the number corresponding to type of accent you'd like, is fast and intuitive. Memorizing Alt codes on the PC is insane. It could not be harder. I'd love to see an "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" commercial for this feature.
I work on a PC and all I do is enable the Spanish Keyboard layout (or german or french) from the control panel, and Bob is, as they say, my mother´s brother! Easy as pie, as I can switch keyboards right from my taskbar. Have never had to memorise an Alt code in my life :)
Do you have to memorize where the foreign characters are on your English keyboard?
I suppose they are easy enough to remember, and are quite intuitively laid out. I suppose everybody finds the solution that suits them best. :)