accented Swedish letters
Unlike with the other languages I've been learning through duolingo, the accented Swedish letters å, ä and ö are not presented for me to use. Is there something I should do to change this?
Just a side note: Those are not accented letters but different letters. An accented letter is e.g ô (in French), the base vowel with a diacritic mark that signals a slightly different pronunciation or something similar (in this case an omitted letter).
Ä, Ö and Å are not such variants of the base letters, they are different letters that just resemble those base letters graphically (for reasons, of course). They are treated in every way as completely independent letters; that's why the Swedes use A-Ö instead of A-Z.
Thus it is important to use the right letters. Using the wrong one is like using an A instead of an O. And "lane" and "lone" are different words.
If you want to enter the correct letters you should search the forum for "keyboard mapping", if you are coming from the US a good search term is "keyboard us international". It allows you to easily enter the letters with your standard keyboard.
And hopefully Duolingo implements the virtual keyboard soon.
What kind of computer do you have? Google for your operating system + diacritics (or "special characters") and you should get instructions for inputting those letters. For example, Windows uses alt codes and with the Mac OS you have the option of keystrokes or a menu that pops up when you hold down a key. There is a keystroke for å but it doesn't seem to work in the lessons. Instead I hold down the a key until I get a menu, and use the 7 key to select å from the list.
You can also install special keyboards for your browser, or enable international keyboard switching. (I use the international keyboard for the phone app and it is a huge help.)
If you use Windows (7 and Vista) you can change your keyboards in the Control Panel, opening "Clock, Language, and Region", then "Regional and Language Options", then "Keyboards and Languages" and then "Change keyboards", and you add the languages you want.
All the languages you select there go to a menu usually located in the task bar to select them whenever you want.
And you can see how the keyboard is by using "On-Screen Keyboard".
If you are using Windows you can use the alt codes as already suggested. You can get these from the character map. The codes are: alt+0228 = ä
alt+0229 = å
alt+0246 = ö
Alternatively you can go to Control Panel, Languages and add the Swedish keyboard layout. You can then switch to it for your lesson and switch back afterwords. If you do the keys are:
US key ; = ö
US key ' = ä
US key [ = å
Hope that helps.
Another option is to add the US International keyboard layout. With that layout:
press ", then press a: ä
press ", then press o: ö
(along with things not useful for swedish like ç and ê)
Finally, if you add a keyboard in Windows, I highly recommend going into the keyboard shortcuts and setting up easy shortcuts to choose which keyboard you're using. I'm personally using alt-shift-1 to enter International and alt-shift-0 to enter US Standard.
If you're using Windows 7 or 8, I think the easiest way to make special characters is using the English International keyboard. In Windows 8 (I've never used Win 7), it's also very easy to switch back and forth between the standard keyboard and the US International.
Here is a page with instructions for every special character you can make with the US International Keyboard:
And here is one for Mac users: