More keyboard shortcuts
I think the thing I'd like to see implemented more than anything else is keyboard shortcuts for the special characters for use in the lessons, and particularly in the timed practice. If I didn't need to operate the mouse, that would save me precious seconds I could be using to answer more questions. ;3c
What you should do is change your keyboard layout to us-international. This allows you to type all the special characters like àãáâ¡¿ß etc, try googling how to do this for your computer.. I can tell you how to do it if you are stuck but it'd be easier for you to google. Just search for how to change my computer keyboard to us-international on mac/windows.
EDIT: Duolingo should really make a guide for its users on how to do this.
Rather than use the International keyboard, you can also install keyboards specifically for the languages you are studying; it's possible on any operating system. You can change between keyboards with just a keystroke or two.
The usual Spanish keyboard is almost transparent for people who touch-type in English, except for some of the special characters and punctuation marks. The French keyboard takes a little more getting used to, as a few keys are reversed compared to English, but it is not difficult. I don't know about German, (or Italian and Portuguese), which may or may not close to what you know. You might want to try the German and Spanish keyboards, as they make typing quicker.
(For French the only special characters that must be selected with the mouse are the ligatures [œ and æ] and capital letters w/ accents. I haven't typed in Spanish for a while, but I don't recall that there was anyting lacking w/ that keyboard.)
Sure, having a ten key pad is more convenient - but it's not required to enter the codes on a laptop. Typically there is some sort of function key you can press in order to use a ten block (and it definitely works with the codes). If you know all the codes for German - good for you! I speak Swedish, French and Spanish, too, and I don't know all the codes by heart. Plus, I'm pretty sure many people don't even know the codes exist - so providing them could be really helpful.
Many laptops can simulate a keypad by hitting something like fn+NumLk (depends on the laptop), at which point the "NumLock" indicator will go on (the one on this laptop looks like a 9 inside a padlock). Use mjkluio789 (0-9) for the numerics. For the altcodes, hold down the alt key while using the same "numeric" keys. To disable the simulated keypad, hit fn+NumLk again.
Probably it's because I'm not used to using it, but for me this is a lot slower than using the mouse for the few symbols my "French Standard" keyboard doesn't have. Lots of keystrokes for a single character. . . . Although it could be worth it for ligatures and accented majuscules. Maybe I'll give it a try.
Thanks, fourohbro (and All), for this discussion.
Alright, so I've seen the tenkeys on lots of laptops but never realized that it's numlock you needed to hit to turn that on. Thanks for the info! I think for the time being the accentsplus plug-in will probably work best for me, but I still would be really pleased by better insite support for full keyboard mode.