Special Character Shortcuts
I know nothing about this, so sorry for asking an ignorant question, but I was wondering about shortcuts to special characters. Hopefully this doesn't involve some setting rearrangement of keyboard layout. I was thinking since eventually we will have to use the language we've learned to write emails, reports, research, chat..... and will then learn special character shortcuts like circumflex and such, then why not just learn them now, instead of using the mouse every time to click on the special characters below the text box, in the lessons?
Well you can do two things:
Learn the appropriate alt-commands: http://www.tedmontgomery.com/tutorial/altchrc.html . So if you want an 'é' you should hold down the alt key while typing 130 on your numpad (remember to enable the numlock). Similarly, you can get 'î' with alt + 140.
Actually change your keyboard layout. If you have an ANSI keyboard ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ANSI_Keyboard_Layout_Diagram_with_Form_Factor.svg ) and use Windows, go to: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306560 and follow the instructions there. Now if you want an 'é', press " ' " followed by 'e' you will get 'é'. Please note that you will have to type " ' " + space to get an actual " ' ". Similarly, type '^' (ie shift + 6) + 'i' to get 'î'. I don't know how to do this for other keyboard layouts and other operating systems.
I prefer the second method, since it is more intuitive. However, it only works with diacritic characters, so to get the German 'ß' you are stuck with method 1, alt + 225.
I've seen several solutions for this since I've been on DL but this was by far the easiest for me. I've been using it for a few months now and LOVE how easy it is to use.
I change my keyboard to the layout of the keyboard for the language. For Spanish I use a Spanish keyboard, for German I use a German keboard, for Russian I use a Russian keyboard ... it takes a little getting used to, but once you've learned it it's very easy and you can type emails, reports, etc. quickly and naturally, without stopping to press shortcut buttons. (If you are using it for duolingo, it might be annoying to have to switch back and forth between the English keyboard and your target language keyboard for the translation exercises, though.)
If you're using Windows (I don't know about other operating systems, sorry), you can go to the control panel, under Clock, Language, and Region, click "change keyboards or other input methods". Select "change keyboards", then choose "add" and pick the keyboard you want. You can set shortcuts up so you can switch from an English keyboard to a different language keyboard quickly.