learning to touch type aged 30


Am I the only PhD student around who never learned to touch type? I sit in my dept, the library, the cafe, wherever and am acutely aware of my fellow students tappety tapping around without a glance at the keyboard, words filling the screen. I know, I know, mind my business, but I'm so motivated to learn to type properly by my colleagues and by the awareness that the first year of a PhD is going to allow the most time for this sort of caper, it's time well spent etc etc.

So my question is, how did you learn, how long did it take, and is it worth putting the hours in? There are a few websites I've been using to start, but am actually finding it quite difficult, and pretty boring...

Any suggestions most gratefully received!


Can you still get 'Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing'? I see to recall that made things slightly more interesting, but not a great deal! It is difficult to get going, particularly as you initially get worse while getting used to the finger positioning.
There's isn't much to suggest except keep at it. If you do type reasonably quickly, and without thinking about it too much, it can help in getting your ideas written down while leaving your brain free to think.


I'm old enough that I actually learnt to touch type on a proper manual typewriter in a class where we listened to a tape and typed as dictated. The tapes had increasing levels of speed and difficulty. (I was sent on this course one summer when I was unemployed.) Actually I don't touch type 100% properly anymore but it did help a lot with the basic qwerty awareness. I'm sure there are a ton of course books with tapes around - try ebay. The tapes help build up a steady speed and ability.


i did a typing course like that too, on typewriters, but i was just a kid then, early teens i think. ah the good times
but then i had this winter term break of serious chatting, in internet chat rooms, and that's when i really learned it. They used to call me the "chat-queen"
i really think once you know how it works and have had some practice, you just need to always do it. with every sentence you type you will become more practiced and soon it will be simple routine, as straightforward as handwriting, just faster.


If you're practicing typing from a written text rather than audio, some people find music helpful. It helps keep the rhythm going.

And yes, I do think it's worth learning, although I have a friend who typed his entire PhD thesis with 2 index fingers.


I learnt it in a compulsory university course at the age of 21. It took two semesters with exams at the end. We used some sort of very old fashioned looking software which had 20 different exercises. Also great for practicing at home. Just cannot remember the name of the software. Although a pain at the time, I am so glad I know how to do it. It's definitely a PhD relevant skill..


I certainly can't touch type - I'm a two finger typist. However, I don't feel that severely disadvantaged and I manage to get along fine. I wonder what it would be like to touch type though?


lol@shani - that's how I learnt to touch-type very quickly, on chatrooms and MSN messenger! (Oh, the wasted hours!).

sushidave, don't spend too much time actually trying to learn, touch-typing just sort of happens naturally, as long as you break away from using the two-fingered method.


Eons ago when I was taught to type, (also on very old typewriters - Ah, the sounds of 30 'carraige returns')we had fabric squares draped over our hands and tied behind the machine. I know, I know, but it certainly trained the mind to picture the keys. Anna


I type quickly, but it's not strictly touch-typing. However, my PhD is being written with speech recognition software. I just sit back, put my feet up and dictate :)


seriously? which software?


I learnt at sixth form and it took about a term (only one hour a week though). Lots of typing "a jaffa salad" (only uses middle row of keys!) and then you gradually add in the other keys. I really recommend it as it has been so useful over the years. When I learnt it nobody really had a computer (I'm only 35 but it seems like a lifetime ago!) and a few friends thought it was a weird thing to learn if you didn't want to be a typist - they're probably kicking themselves now (well, probably not, but you can hope!)


With regards to speech recognition software, I'd also be interested to know what barnaby is using. Everyone I've spoken to who has tried that sort of thing has had endless trouble with it recognising the spoken words correctly and ended up having to speak very clear, BBC style English to get it to work.

Good luck with the touch typing by the way.


free e- touch typing course. Haven't tried it but it might be worth looking at.



I use this http://www.nuance.co.uk/naturallyspeaking/preferred/

and it's great.
Yes, it takes a bit of getting used to, and you do have to proof-read carefully to avoid silly mis-hearings, but it works extermely well IMO, and it learns! I've had it for a while, but have just given it a proper test now that I'm 12,00 words into my literature review, but I'm very impressed.

As for having to speak clear, BBC English, it claims you don't, but that happens to be my natural accent anyway!