Writing hebrew questions

In the german and norwegian courses that I follow on Duolingo, whenever there is a question where you need to type in that language, there are buttons for special characters, like umlaut characters in German or the ø in Norwegian.

However, with the Hebrew course there are no such buttons to compose words in Hebrew. Since I don't know any other way to write hebrew, I am using the special characters accessories tool from Windows, but that is quite awkward and doesn't make answering such questions any more fun.

So, will there be a feature that such questions have buttons to write hebrew characters, and if not, how have you (the other ones who have done Hebrew) been answering such questions? Is there something I should know regarding typing Hebrew characters?

November 7, 2018


If you go to your computer's keyboard preferences, you can virtually add keyboards! Then you can type directly from your computer.

I suggest using the QWERTY format, wherein the letters are mostly placed according to similar sounding letters in English, so it takes less time to learn where different keys are (in that set-up, ש is 'W', א is 'A', ע is 'E', צ is 'C' but mostly it's pretty intuitive and doesn't take long to learn.)

If you need an ending letter, you hit shift + letter, e.g. מ becomes ם or כ becomes ך, etc.

You can add keyboards to your phone as well :)

I'm not past 'letters' in Hebrew yet but it definitely works, especially if you're not worrying about niqqud. אני אתה את אמא אבא יונה הוא היא ... There isn't a word from my DL vocab so far that I can't write (beyond the basic "I can't remember how to spell it.")

November 7, 2018

Thanks for the advice!

November 8, 2018

Honestly, I would recommend going ahead and learning the standard Israeli Hebrew keyboard ( When I started learning the language, I thought learning a strange keyboard would be hard and too much of a distraction, but learning it has been easier than I expected, and I'll be a fluent typist very soon.

It is tempting to pick the phonetic QWERTY-based option, but it can be a problem down the road. If you expect to visit or move to Israel, you are going to find yourself at a distinct disadvantage if you keep needing to change the keyboard layouts on the computers there.

A similar argument could be made for English learners and why they don't just learn the Dvorak keyboard layout first. The answer is cultural - that learning QWERTY helps one to fit in, and learning some amount of culture is essential to gaining mastery over a language anyway!

November 8, 2018

To be honest, what you said is what I have done as well. At first the characters may feel like being in the wrong place, but I am already getting used to the Aleph being under the 't', the Tav being under the comma and such. :)

Huh? It says I am on Level 8 with Hebrew here, while in the top bar it says I am on level 9...

November 8, 2018

Indeed, it seems to work well for me as I am able to map the different scripts to the different layouts. In other words, I recognize when I am typing Hebrew script and can identify the appropriate positions, while switching back to Roman script resets my brain to thinking QUERTY.

November 12, 2018

I'm not planning on moving to Israel, so learning the Israeli keyboard is a waste of time and doesn't actually help me on the cultural front at all (that said, since you have no choice but to add the Hebrew keyboard to a phone/tablet, I end up getting some experience with it anyway.)

If someone was planning on moving, I would recommend it (with a few precautions.)

Originally, back when I started DuoLingo, I would install the keyboards for languages. Issues I found:

  1. The virtual keyboard that is supposed to be the same as X language isn't always the same. I found this out the hard way by moving to another country and realizing my input keyboard didn't match the keyboard of the country I was in. I suppose sometimes the programming is incompatible? Anyway, if you're really concerned about learning the actual keyboard because you're moving, my suggestion would be to hop online and get an actual physical keyboard from the country you're moving to and actually be sure you're learning the same keyboard. I now live in the UK, so it's on my list to get a UK keyboard and adapt.

  2. The more you add keyboards, the more your keyboards can start glitching. When I had a French, Hebrew, US, Spanish, etc. keyboard... Keyboards would start "disappearing" on me.

Which was annoying, but tolerable.

Till it lost my Latin-alphabet languages at my login screen. Making getting into my computer a hacker's job.

So, that changed my approach to "less is more" and "we'll cross that bridge if we ever get to it" approach. No special installations for languages with Latin alphabets, keep my non-Latin alphabets as similar as possible, and if I want to move to another country, get a keyboard from that country instead of confusing my computer. Haven't had a keyboard disappear on me since.

Also, I wouldn't compare it to using QWERTY vs DVORAK at all. QWERTY made sense in a day of typewriters, so it dominated, but that same layout on a flat keyboard leads to carpal tunnel syndrome. But because QWERTY dominates now due to the history of typewriters, if you didn't learn it first, you'd be useless in an academic and working world that expects you to type 80+ WPM on a QWERTY keyboard.

English speakers refusing to move over to DVORAK is less like not using the Israeli keyboard if you're not planning on living in Israel and more like the USA refusing to adopt Celsius and the metric system. It would make total sense to do it. But no one wants to do it because it'll be hard and expensive for 2-3 generations of its initiation.

Comparatively unless you're moving to a country I'd say it can actually cause you far more problems to install its keyboard so it makes sense to stick to QWERTY, and if learning the right keyboard is that important to you it's worth getting a physical keyboard to prevent going through the work and finding the keyboards don't match.

I can use the UK as an example - I could have installed a UK keyboard before moving over here from the USA. But the keyboards over here have the old-school giant "enter" button, the tiny back-space button, and the shift key is half the length of the shift key in the USA.

So switching to the UK keyboard wouldn't have actually taught me to type accurately on a UK keyboard. The only way I'm going to learn the UK keyboard is to get a physical UK keyboard. Installing the UK keyboard would have ultimately been me learning a keyboard I was never going to use "in real life."

And again reflects why it's not my first recommendation to spend time trying to new keyboards through input source. Or even my second. It would be my third-place suggestion, under the assumption that you're moving, and you also can't afford to order the physical keyboard.

November 9, 2018
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