Start Your Keyboards: 5 Resources for French Typing Practice
Welcome to the Typosaur Zoo at the FluentU Institute of Modern Communications!
We’re proud to feature one of the most extensive keyboard collections in the world.
One of you had a question?—Yes, you read the sign correctly: Please Do Touch the Keys. In fact, touch them often. Touch typing is an important skill, one that can greatly facilitate language learning.
Oh, you’re studying French, but you’re not sure how to practice your French typing? Well, we’ve been working on a project that will help you with that.
In fact, you’re just in time for the very first presentation. Come inside our typetarium, take a comfortable seat and grab a keyboard.
Sit back and relax as we present:
Just the Right Type: Resources for French Typing Practice!
The Internet is full of resources for improving your French typing skills. Since there are so many to choose from, we’ve developed this convenient guide to help you navigate them.
We’ll begin by reviewing the whys and hows of French typing. Then we’ll explore some of the most useful tests, exercises and games for French typing practice.
Meet the Typosaurs: The Different Types of Keyboards
Let’s start here, with our first keyboard exhibit. Most of our visitors are familiar with the Qwertysaurus, which came to the scene almost a century and a half ago. It has relatives throughout most of the Americas and across Western Europe.
You may have also heard of its close cousin, the Qwertziphus, which dominates Eastern Europe.
We have several examples of the Qwertysaurus here, arranged by decade. You can see its evolution from a metal, mechanical model to the molded plastic marvel you use every day.
…and we’re walking.
Now, take a look at the display case to your left. We have quite a special keyboard here—a Typosaur you don’t normally see in the Americas or most of Europe. The Azertyraptor, with its rounded keys and long spacebar, is typically seen in France and the island of Corsica, with occasional sightings in Belgium.
Did you enjoy our exhibit? Excellent. Moving on! We’re nearly ready to begin our presentation in earnest. Fingers at the ready… and type!
Learning to Type Again… In French
Chances are, you already know how to type. So why practice typing in French?
- It helps you focus on your French. When you master French touch typing, you can focus on the French you’re writing. Instead of hunting and pecking at the keys and looking up letter codes, you can concentrate on creating your French chef-d’œuvre (masterpiece).
- It’s a skill for a global résumé. Become more qualified for francophone jobs by adding “French typing” to your list of skills. Typing well in French could make you a more attractive job candidate for a multinational corporation.
- It’s essential for online interactions. Online interactions require typing, so knowing how to type in French gets you ready for real conversations. Accelerating your typing means speeding up your learning. Doing French exercises online is one great way to learn both the language and typing in it.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Teaching Your Fingers New Tricks
You don’t have to memorize the layout of your keyboard to practice French typing. In fact, many skilled touch typists don’t consciously know the location of specific keys. Just let your fingers do the walking and you’ll be well on the road to proficient French typing. Here’s how learning to type in French will strengthen your typing skills:
- Make new memories. Every time you practice typing in French, you strengthen your procedural memory. Soon, French typing becomes second nature that requires no conscious thought.
- Fine-tune word acquisition. Typing cements French spelling in your memory. While word clouds and matching exercises reinforce visual word recognition, writing or typing out words lets you test your grasp of correct spelling. You can customize your spell-checking settings to work with you as your type in French. Microsoft Word, for example, can support multiple proofing languages and auto-detect which one you’re using.
- Accentuate the accents. Typing emphasizes diacritical marks which require special steps to produce. Each accented letter is generated differently. The process of typing the accents will help you remember which ones are used in a word.
A Diacritical Situation: How to Type Accented Letters
One of the biggest differences between typing in English and typing in French is that French frequently requires letters with accent marks. There are several different ways to type accented letters. Try a few until you find the method you like best.
Text editors: Pushing all the right buttons.
Online French text exercises often come with a row of “special letters” near the text box, where you can select the needed accented letter by tapping or clicking on it.
You can type your own texts in French using an online text editor with similar controls. TypeIt’s French text editor displays all of the accented letters at the top of the text box. It includes ligatured (connected) letters, such as the œ of œuf (egg) or cœur (heart).
Lexilogos has a similar French text editor, although the accented letter “buttons” are positioned at the bottom of the text box. The text box can also be expanded to a much larger size. Lexilogos’ offerings include ligatured letters and special French punctuation, such as guillemets (« »), which are French quotation marks. The Lexilogos editor also provides proprietary shortcuts for accented letters, such as typing c= to produce ç.
If you click the spell checker button underneath the Lexilogos special characters inputs, any text you’ve typed into the text box will automatically be run through a French spelling and grammar checker.
If you don’t want to limit your French typing to a special text editor, you can try a software that will help you type accents more easily in any application. One such product is EàsyType French Accents. It allows you to type accented letters simply by hitting the same letter key multiple times. For example, é can be typed by hitting the e on your keyboard two times in rapid succession. There’s a small fee for the software, but you can try it free first for a week to see if it meets your needs.
Keyboard shortcuts: Learning the not-so-secret codes.
Although you’ll need to memorize a few numbers to become proficient, key code combinations are a handy way to produce the needed diacritical marks. You can use them in any text editor, in web browsers or in your email.
ALT codes are often used on Windows-based computers, and you can learn to use them fairly quickly. Apple computers use Mac codes instead of ALT codes.
Switching keyboards: From QWERTY to AZERTY.
If you really want to type in French the way it’s done in France, you can change the system settings on your computer to convert to the AZERTY keyboard layout on a Windows computer or a Mac.
Here’s where you can find some of the most common accented letters in the AZERTY layout, using the QWERTY designations on your physical keyboard:
|QWERTY Key||Letter Produced by AZERTY Layout|
If you want the labels on the physical keys to match what you’re typing in the AZERTY layout, these stickers with a transparent background will spruce up your Windows keyboard. Mac users have a choice of stickers or a thin silicone keyboard cover to update their key labels.
Smartphone typing: A touch of magic.
If you’re using a virtual keyboard, the kind that appears like magic on your tablet or smartphone screen, you probably have options for accented letters built right in.
With an Android keyboard, for instance, you just need to keep your finger on the letter key for a few seconds, then slide your finger over to the desired accented version of the letter. The “e” key, for example, will offer é, ê and è, among other choices. To get the uppercase set of options, just hit Shift before you tap the needed letter.
With a virtual keyboard, you never have to use a special text editor, switch to a different keyboard layout or remember any codes, because you have all the accented letters you need… right at your fingertips.
Start Your Keyboards: 5 Resources for French Typing Practice
You’ve familiarized yourself with the different keyboard layouts you can use and tried various ways to type accented letters in French. Now it’s time to put your knowledge into practice with some exercises that will really make your fingers fly.
10 Fast Fingers: Master the Most Common French Words
Improve your French typing, sixty seconds at a time. In 10 Fast Fingers, you take one minute typing tests to strengthen your skills.
A color-coded system lets you see your progress as you type. The word you’re currently typing is highlighted in gray. The text of words you type correctly will turn green.
A mistake in the current word is flagged by red highlighting. You have the option to backspace and correct your mistake(s), as long as your cursor is still on that word. Doing so will impact your speed but improve your accuracy.
Once you’ve hit the spacebar and moved on to the next word, you can’t correct mistakes in words you’ve already finished typing. Red text marks any word with an uncorrected error.
When you finish each test, built-in buttons for several popular social networks let you easily post a badge displaying your score along with the humblebrag tag line: “Êtes-vous plus rapide?” (“Are you faster?”). You can also scroll down to look at a list of top-ranked players’ stats.
If you want to test your French typing skills against others, enter the Typing Competition list and look for a French flag on the left-hand side. Games are not played in real time but you can see how your skills stack up.
Breeze through the bulk of your typing. The practice texts used in 10 Fast Fingers are generated from lists of the most common French words. You can play as a guest and get tested on the 200 most common words. Once you’ve practiced these common words, which statistically make up the lion’s share of most texts, your typing speed will dramatically increase.
Create an account and log in to take the advanced typing test, which will give you the opportunity to practice the 1,000 most common French words. With a registered account, you can also save your scores and gauge your improvement over time.
Keep your fingers on their toes. Random words in exercises mean you can’t guess upcoming words by context. And you can’t read too far ahead in the text because only two lines of the text are displayed at a time.
TypeRacer: Amp up Your Speed
TypeRacer puts you in the driver’s seat for high-speed French typing practice.
Pop culture buffet. Type quotes from movies, books and songs, many of them classics of pop culture. Amuse yourself by trying to figure out the source of the quote as you type the text. When you finish, the quote’s origin is revealed.
Practice on your own track, or race with friends. If you want the racetrack all to yourself, you can practice solo. Words will be underlined in the text as you type through them. Each correct letter turns green while each mistake is highlighted in red. You won’t be able to move on to the next word until you fix your typo.
Once you’ve finished a text, you have the option of “ghost racing” against your previous performance. (Just click the “Try again?” link next to the ghost icon, to the right of your characters-per-minute score.) TypeRacer lets you review your mistakes, analyze your speed throughout the race and even see a replay of your performance.
You can also invite your friends to join you on a private racetrack. Your exclusive typing session will be open for twenty-four hours, and you can email the link to your fellow racers with just a couple of clicks. The private racetrack includes a chatroom where you can type messages to your friends (in French, of course!) once you’ve breezed through the typing race.
Worldwide competition. If you’ve set your sights on global typing domination, choose “Enter a typing race” (the first option on TypeRacer’s main page) to race against others around the world. You can see your own progress, as well as your competitors’, on the track above the typing text.
Key Hero: Conquer Your Typos
Review your typing performance by the numbers with Key Hero. Chock-full of charts and statistics, Key Hero lets you fine-tune your typing skills with scientific accuracy.
Literary drills. Want to practice your typing and sample classics of literature at the same time? Key Hero employs excerpts from famous writers, including Asimov and Baudelaire, for its typing curriculum. Many of these texts hearken back a century or two, which provides a great opportunity for typing French words you might not normally encounter. Enrich your French vocabulary as you hone your typing skills.
Analyze your performance stats. Key Hero provides an in-depth analysis of your performance for every text you type. See where you slowed down, transposed letters, typed an extraneous double letter, etc. Your final text is marked up according to an error code system explained in the lower left-hand corner of the page.
Ligatures, such as æ and œ, are not used in Key Hero. That said, you’ll get plenty of practice typing accented letters. Watch out for the extra spaces that Key Hero uses before colons, semi-colons, question marks and exclamation points.
Unlike many other typing exercises, Key Hero lets you use your arrow keys to correct a word you’ve already typed. This is similar to a real word processor. However, doing so can cause you to lose your place in the text.
Dactylocours: Keep Your Eyes on the Screen
If you’re new to touch typing, Dactylocours will let you start at the beginning. Through a series of methodical lessons, you’ll familiarize yourself with the keyboard. You’ll start out typing series of letters based on the keyboard layout and work your way up to words.
Create a free account to take advantage of the entire course. If you’re using a QWERTY layout, select Clavier Canadien (Canadian Keyboard) from the drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner of your screen.
Feel your way to better typing. Dactylocours takes a different approach than many other typing tutors. Instead of letting you see your mistakes, incorrect keystrokes don’t show up at all on the screen. Keep typing until you see the target letter displayed in the text box—that means you’ve struck the correct key.
In this way, you’re less visually distracted by your mistakes and you can focus on your successful efforts.
Home in on hand position. Lessons are structured to start with the “home keys,” so your hands will be in the optimal position to find the keys you need. A keyboard diagram within each lesson will show you which letters you’ll be typing and which fingers you should use to strike each key.
Go native. Since Dactylocours is designed for francophones, you’ll get more French language practice by navigating theall-French instructions. Even the keyboard labels are in French, so get ready to hit the spacebar with your puce (thumb), and use your auriculaire (little finger) to tap the Enter key.
FreeTypingGame.net: Have Fun with French Typing
Looking for little variety? Need a change of pace from typing out texts? Enjoy colorful, stimulating and whimsical games that strengthen your French typing skills.
Improve your speed and accuracy. Type words quickly and correctly to win these games. In the midst of space skirmishes, speeding cars and supernatural hauntings, proficient French touch typing will become an automatic skill.
To practice typing French words, choose Lesson #39 from the menu on the start screen of almost any game. Select Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced difficulty.
Here’s a sampling of the many typing games you can enjoy:
- Typing Wars: Return of the Keyboard: Wield your keyboard in a battle against the imperial galactic fleet.
- Desert Typing Racer: Gear up your fingers for fun as you type the rapidly approaching words to avoid crashes with oncoming traffic.
- Spacebar Invaders: Relive the glory days of early video games as you type with all your might to fight off the invasion of creatures that resemble the Scrubbing Bubbles.
- Save the Sailboat Race!: Type the French words falling toward the ocean before they can capsize the parading sailboats.
- Trick or Type: Scare off any doubts you may still have about your French typing abilities with this chillingly good typing game. Type the words swiftly and accurately so the ghosts can get their fill of Halloween candy. Une farce ou une gâterie! (Trick or Treat!)
Stimulate your senses and engage for learning. Games motivate us with challenging and attainable achievements. With their bright colors, captivating sound effects and non-stop action, games keep us engaged and focused.
Games have a unique mixture of attributes that can prime players for learning. Take advantage of these entertaining learning environments as you become a Grand Master of la Dactylo française (French typing).
Whether you go for QWERTY or AZERTY, physical or virtual keyboard, text typing or games, these resources can significantly improve your French typing skills.
And one more thing...
If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.