Suggestion: Keyboard to automatically type in different language? [Cyrillic]

First of all, I love the incubator website of Duolingo. I have applied for my language (Macedonian), and look forward to building up the language tree!

Hopefully you guys have already thought of this, but I thought I suggest a way of implementing a keyboard for languages that doesn't use the Latin script. With Macedonian, as with Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Montenegrin, plus many more, we use the Cyrillic script ( I find that on a computer, I personally would find it very tedious to have to use my mouse in order to click through the letters. I looked through a few websites that allow one to write in Macedonian, and they have this virtual keyboard that makes it a pain to type (i.e. you have to use the mouse to click on the virtual keyboard characters on the screen). However, some places allow you to type Cyrillic with your actual keyboard, with each letter assigned to a different letter on the keyboard. This would actually apply to many different languages, I did a Google search to show up a few examples:




If it can be made so that we can type on the keyboard and produce the letters that we want, that would make things a lot faster, easier, and more accurate.

Example: If I was to type 'Cow' in Macedonian I would type it with my keyboard as: 'Krava' whereas, if the keyboard was automatically enabled, it would be typed as 'Kрава'. And in this case, you will type the same letters from the Latin alphabet and get the ones in Cyrillic.

For Macedonian, many people type it out with Latin letters, which is fine for communicating quickly over Facebook or via text message, but if people are going to learn the languages, I think it would be best if they can type the letters using the actual characters of the language they are learning.

I should add that the above applies if you are on Duolingo on your home computer/laptop. I find with iPhones (and I imagine this would be the same with the iPad, and other smart phones/tablets), that you are able to put in place a keyboard of a language of your choosing. So in my case, to add Macedonian to my iPhone, I would go to 'Settings --> General --> Keyboard --> Keyboards --> Add New Keyboard --> Macedonian, and there you would have a list of languages you can add to your phone, here is an example picture of that screen:

I guess this would have been something I would mention while in the incubator phase of development, but I imagine since I would only be in contact with people doing the same language that I applied for, this can be useful to others that would need a keyboard with a different script from Latin enabled.

Cheers guys!

PS. Really excited for this incubator thing. I can't wait to start adding words to the language tree for my language!

October 10, 2013


You can just configure a different keyboard layout on your computer.

October 10, 2013

You mean so when I type, different characters would come up automatically? Though that would mean I would have to turn that feature on (switch language) when I am learning a language, then switch off when I am back to typing English? I guess I hoped that this feature would only apply and enable when typing on Duolingo, kinda like how when you have to type a word in German in the exercises, there are no red underlines for the words because they are not in English. Although I guess that would be a different type of feature.

October 10, 2013

I'm using two layouts right now: the Russian layout and my modified English layout (which also includes characters for French, German, and Spanish). I hit Ctrl+Shift to switch between them and of course it works everywhere, not only on Duolingo. Why should one want it to work only on Duo? If you study seriously, you would want to use dictionaries or correspond with native speakers. A universal layout would be useful.

October 10, 2013

Ahhh that would be quite good. I thought that if you change to a different layout, the language would be permanent and you can only do one at a time. But actually being able to alternate between two would be very good (i.e. pressing Ctrl+Shift). Many thanks for the info. :)

October 10, 2013

How does one set this up though? I'm on a Mac and just added a Greek keyboard layout, but I don't know how to make that quick switch when I need it. I'd google it, but I'm not sure how to phrase it. LOL

June 7, 2017

On my (Ubuntu) system, it takes less than a second to switch keyboard layouts (I just hit alt + Caps Lock). It's also possible to have a different keyboard layout for every window, so e.g. you can have your Duolingo window in the language you're learning and the rest of your windows in your native language. I think there are similar possibilities for Windows and Macintosh systems.

October 11, 2013

If you are serious enough to learn a language with a completely different alphabet, you should really consider enabling the corresponding layout in your system and use stickers for your keyboard to add the labels. Or, if you are even more serious, you can learn to touch-type in your new language, thus you won't have to modify your physical keyboard.

October 10, 2013

Sorry to clarify, I don't mean modifying the physical appearance of the keyboard that you have, but when typing, the corresponding letters that are in a different language come up automatically.

October 10, 2013

This is actually learning to touch type. If you are up to it, it's great, but for a start one can also use stickers so that they could find the required letters without looking at a layout chart.

Upd: I'm not quite sure what you mean by "corresponding" letters. If you want to type "krava" and get "крава", this won't work because in Cyrillic alphabet there are letters that don't have equivalents in English. What if you have to type "шоколад" (chocolate)? There is no single English letter equivalent to Russian "ш" (sh). That is why a completely phonetic layout is not possible. There are special transliteration sites, and some Russians who live abroad and can't touch type use them: they look at the English keyboard, type in the Russian words by hunting and pecking the letters, and the system transforms it into Cyrillic. It is not a very convenient method.

Using a standard Russian layout without keyboard stickers or learning to touch type would be painful because the Russian letters don't match the English ones at all.

October 10, 2013

Ahh I see. When we wrie in Macedonian, we always do so with the latin alphabet (in the case of text messages or quick Facebook messages), so for us, we would type 'chokolado' for 'chocolate' but you are right that as it turns out there is no equivalent latin letter for the 'ch' in the word (ch = ч ), but I just assumed that when typing 'ch' it would automatically convert to 'ч'. But I see that touch typing would be the way to go and would require a bit of time to learn. I see on the above pic I posted that 'ч' is actully the button for ' ; '.

Thank you again for clarifying.

October 10, 2013

I think it has nothing to do with the website you're visiting, but you have to install a new keyboard on your machine. If you use Windows 7 or above it's really easy. Besides, as the course you're gonna help create is from Macedonian to English, I guess Duolingo won't even bother proposing a "mouse keyboard" as most of the users probably already have it installed - I guess. The only tricky thing is to be able to switch fast between the keyboards but again, it's not Duolingo's problem - and they can't do anything about it.

PS: I have enabled a different keyboard, learned most of the keys, and have a printed version next to my computer in case I would forget some of them.

October 10, 2013

Do you mean installing a new physical keyboard, or modifying the software? I guess I had in mind modifying the software so it would be easier for the users to just get in there and type with whatever standard keyboard they have, and a different alphabet comes up. But I guess it will depend on the possibilities.

At the end of the day, I guess it would still be easy to type and learn a language with the normal Latin (such as English script), as you will get the same sounds out of it. :)

October 10, 2013

No, you configure a different keyboard layout, as pont and olimo said On a computer it's part of your OS, then you get stickers for your keyboard to know where the keys are OR you learn it by heart (can be tricky) On a phone, either it's part of the OS or sometimes it's an extra app (eg Swiftkey on Android); either way you see the keyboard layout you're using

October 10, 2013

Oh fair enough Oliwia. Many thanks for the info! I will try and see if I can get the different layout working.

October 10, 2013
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