About Typing Practice webpage

How to use the webpage
Where did the idea come from?
Different versions of the webpage
Typing Practice webpage (Internet Explorer only)
Typing Practice webpage (all browsers)

It is difficult to use a computer unless you can type a little. Unfortunately, most software which teaches typing skills assume that you want to become a touch-typist. They give a lot of drills, which are essential if you are acquiring a professional skill, but a waste of time if you just need to be able to type without hunting for the 'P' or 'Q' keys! In particular, children get bored quickly, and don't finish the programme which, since the keys are introduced gradually, means they learn nothing.

How to use the webpage

My Typing Practice webpage gives you a drill in using the whole alphabet right from the start. You see a letter, you type it, another appears, you type that. Any mistake gets signalled immediately, and you just have to type the correct letter. After 30 seconds, you get told how many letters you have typed. This encourages you to try again and improve. If you are bored after a few minutes, then you can leave it having done a few minutes practice. In fact, to my surprise, such a simple idea proves to be quite addictive, as people try to beat their own scores. The webpage is very simple to use. From my own experience, children aged 7-9, having tried the program a few times, seem to fall into the follwing categories:
  • 1-5 letters in 30 seconds - serious problems with typing, possibly special needs - try with a smaller collection of letters
  • 6-10 letters in 30 seconds - slow typist, but will improve to 10+ with practice on the webpage
  • 10-15 letters in 30 seconds - average typist (for a young child) - make them practise on a word processor!
  • 15+ letters in 30 seconds - confident typist
  • Where did the idea come from?

    I developed the program to help young children. I found that they couldn't use a word processor because they were wasting so much time hunting for the position of individual keys that they couldn't cope with composing their sentences or spelling or punctuation as well. By having a simple drill, a few minutes could get a complete beginner to type slowly with one finger. However, surprisingly enough, the same drill encourages the use of two fingers, and then several fingers, since eventually that's the only way to get faster. Once the children knew the position of the QWERTY keyboard, they could type sentences fairly fluently, and concentrate on capitals, spelling and finding where the exclamation mark was! This practice does not cover such points, only letters. However, it is the letters that make typing so hard at the beginning.

    Different versions of the webpage

    Both versions of the webpage are similar. For example, they both let you select smaller groups of letters than the whole alphabet to practise. Special needs children may have problems learning to type, since it needs good hand/eye co-ordination, reading skills, and memory skills. Also, if there is a range of typing abilities in a class, some children may be discouraged at being much worse than the others. For such children, it may be better to start with just the vowels, or common consonants. By learning a few letters at a time, it breaks the task down to more manageable chunks. In both versions of the webpage, you can also choose the length of a go, so a slow typist can have a longer go, while the class whizz-kid can be challenged with a very short go!

    The two versions do have noticeable differences, however. Unfortunately the different browsers (such as Internet Explorer and Mozilla, formerly Netscape) use different versions of Javascript, which this webpage uses.
    The first version of the typing practice webpage uses Javascript which works in Internet Explorer but does not work in Mozilla, and quite likely not in other browsers either. This version allows you to choose which font face you wish to use. It also allows you to select words rather than individual letters. This is very useful for more fluent typists. When choosing the words, I tried to include common words letter strings. But I also included some weird ones for more interest! The first version also starts a go from the point that you enter the first letter you see.

    The second version of the typing practice webpage uses Javascript which works in Mozilla and Internet Explorer, and it should work in other browsers as well. Here a go is started by a Start go button. It only works with single letters, not words, and you cannot choose the font. It does have one feature that the first version does not. You can choose for yourself a collection of letters to practise. You type these letters in as a string in the supplied box, and then the go will only ask for these. This might be useful for people teaching touch typing, or anyone who wants a smaller group of letters than the whole alphabet to practise, but doesn't like my alternatives!

    The two versions are different to use, since the second has a Start go button and the first does not. I would certainly recommend that you decide which webpage you prefer and stick to that one, or you might get confused. I am sorry that two webpages were necessary, but that's what happens when you try to write software for incompatible browsers!

    Typing Practice webpage (Internet Explorer only)
    Typing Practice webpage (all browsers)


    © Jo Edkins 2004