The Typesy system is designed to teach you to touch type on a standard QWERTY keyboard, where the letters are in a specific arrangement across the three rows. The system also supports keyboard layouts for UK English and Spanish, which have the same letter layout but some different arrangements of punctuation and symbol keys. There are other keyboard layouts in use around the world, however, and if you do a lot of traveling and rely on internet cafés for your e-mails, you need to be aware that your touch typing skills might actually cause you to slow down, since the letters you expect to find under your fingers won’t be where you think they are.
If you’re traveling in Germany, Poland,, or Switzerland, then you’ll probably see the QWERTZ keyboard, where the Y and Z keys have switched places. In addition, the many accent marks (diacritical marks) and special letters in Eastern European alphabets will appear beside, or instead of, some of the punctuation and symbols you’re used to seeing.
To support French-language typists in France and Belgium the keyboard configuration AZERTY is used. This keyboard also includes accented letters used in French, and switches several letters across the rows.
It’s difficult for typists once non-Latin alphabets are considered, because everything changes, and there won’t be an easy way for someone used to a QWERTY keyboard to type on a keyboard in Russia that uses the Cyrillic alphabet. However, some computers make it easy to switch between the two layouts, and for letters that are the same in both alphabets (like J, M, K, and B) the positions are identical.
What happens when a language doesn’t depend on a letter-based alphabet? For people in China and Japan, a computer is the only practical solution. It allows phonetic word entry, which then calls up a pop-up window of possible word choices for the typist to select. If we did this in English, it would be like typing in the letters W-A-Y-T and being presented with the words wait and weight to choose from. That might seem to be a long way around to simply type a word, but think about this: where there are only 26 letters in the English alphabet, there are over 10,000 characters in Mandarin. Imagine trying to fit all of those keys on one keyboard!
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