Can we please get 45 seconds in timed practice, at least for languages with non-Latin keyboards? I have lost so many practice rounds to typing the correct answer in the wrong language and either wasting time deleting my answer or getting marked wrong because I didn't catch myself. Even if I become a fluent touch typist in my target language, switching keyboards will be a problem.
Also, Russian has really long words, like удовольствием, which I simply can't type in 30 seconds while I'm still learning the keyboard layout (yes, I'm still learning the keyboard layout after almost 2 years or Russian practice).
psionpete is right--until you can touch-type well on whichever keyboard layout you are using, do the non-timed practice. For those who do know the keyboard, 45 seconds would not really amount to timed practice very often.
If you've been struggling for two years, try working on learning to touch-type in Cyrillic as a skill all by itself. Once you've mastered it, Duo will be so much easier in Russian! It does not take very long, and it's a real ego boost when you have mastered it, besides. Try sites/apps like these:
- vse10--look in the upper lefthand corner for ratatype, an English equivalent
- keybr.com--this is really great for practice
- klavaro--a download to learn and practice offline
- keyboard racer
- a cool typing game
- free "games"
And/or ask for advice if you grind to a halt. FWIW, I learned to type on the standard Cyrillic keyboard just using a text editor, which you could also do, if you like, but some of the above look fun for learning and are great for practice.
For the website (any OS) and handhelds, switching keyboards generally can be setup so as to require no more than a keystroke or two and is not a problem.
Which keyboard layout are you using, by the way--standard or "phonetic"? See shady_arc's explanation.
I'm a big fan of timed practice. I, frankly, don't think untimed practice is a viable replacement. Obviously others aren't necessarily going to agree with me on that. Whatever; what works for them works for them.
Since probably about the only people actively learning Russian on Duolingo who have anything like their normal typing speed on the Cyrillic keyboard are speakers of Bulgarian, Macedonian, and Serbian, I do think it would be more than appropriate for the time increments to be larger to reflect that. I doubt a uniform 45 seconds is the right amount; it should vary just like it does not in keeping with the length of the sentence, but just vary over a higher range.
I probably know at least 98% of the content of the Russian tree by now, and I still struggle with timed practice using the authentic keyboard configuration. I can do it, but not reliably, and I frequently end up just skipping a couple of the questions that would involve Russian typing just b/c I know I don't have enough time.
I'll venture another opinion guaranteed not to get universal plaudits: I would encourage those starting out to put off worrying about the authentic keyboard layout. The value I personally have gotten from timed practice and just being able to type in a way that feels normal makes the substantial time I spent with the phonetic keyboard look like the right choice to me. At the margin I probably stayed with it too long, but I had quite the number of false starts trying to learn the normal layout. When I finally found what worked for me (i.e. actually plunking down the $20 for a dual-labeled keyboard and then hanging out in a reverse tree typing only Russian), I was up and running - albeit haltingly - in just a couple hours. However, I'm still, completely unsurprisingly, at nowhere my Latin-keyboard typing speed in Russian. (Note: I don't presume to advise you to forsake the authentic keyboard layout; I do think it's easier to handle with a firmer knowledge of Russian, but you would undoubtedly lose some of the progress you have made learning the normal layout. I have noticed that returning to the phonetic layout when I'd like a bit of very fast typing really isn't an option; it's not really fast anymore.)
But I don't think Duolingo should be having such a heavy thumb on the scales in that direction. I commiserate.