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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry if this is a common question, but I tried the search and couldn't see a post about it.

We're still at the planning and research stage of moving to France. Spending a fair bit of time on the internet in pursuit of this has made me think about typing...

For anyone on the forum who's a touch-typist, did you switch to the French keyboard layout when you came to France? I've been assuming in the long run that that's the best thing to do to be able to type accents quickly. (And presumably, if you're switching between both languages, it's less painful typing English on a French keyboard than the other way around.) Is that right? If so, if you've been used to touch-typing on a UK-layout keyboard for many years, how easy did you find it to unlearn your old habits?

Also, how seriously should I take the proposals to change French keyboard layouts (www dot lefigaro dot fr/secteur/high-tech/2017/06/07/32001-20170607ARTFIG00222-le-clavier-francais-azerty-va-changer.php). Any views on whether that's likely to come to pass soon? (I can't imagine the UK government making any equivalent proposal, or that it would get anywhere, but I know things are different in France!)
 

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Sorry if this is a common question, but I tried the search and couldn't see a post about it.

We're still at the planning and research stage of moving to France. Spending a fair bit of time on the internet in pursuit of this has made me think about typing...

For anyone on the forum who's a touch-typist, did you switch to the French keyboard layout when you came to France? I've been assuming in the long run that that's the best thing to do to be able to type accents quickly. (And presumably, if you're switching between both languages, it's less painful typing English on a French keyboard than the other way around.) Is that right? If so, if you've been used to touch-typing on a UK-layout keyboard for many years, how easy did you find it to unlearn your old habits?

Also, how seriously should I take the proposals to change French keyboard layouts (www dot lefigaro dot fr/secteur/high-tech/2017/06/07/32001-20170607ARTFIG00222-le-clavier-francais-azerty-va-changer.php). Any views on whether that's likely to come to pass soon? (I can't imagine the UK government making any equivalent proposal, or that it would get anywhere, but I know things are different in France!)
I still have the laptop I bought in Australia. To cope with the accents etc I bought a separate French keyboard. Apart from requiring a larger workspace, the disadvantage is getting your fingers to remember which keyboard you are using and now I hardly ever use the separate keyboard. When I replace this laptop, it will be with a French one - but I'm waiting until they change the AZERTY keyboard, as it will then be easier to key accented capital letters (often required when completing French government forms online) - just hope this laptop lasts that long!
 

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Why?

We use UK / US keyboards since that is what we are used to (I have put US as well since the m-i-l is American!).

Accents are no problem. If you are in MS Word, you just use Ctrl with the accent you require then the letter to which you wish to apply the accent. (e.g. é use Ctrl and ' then press e) To accent capital letters just use the capital letter you require instead of the small letter e.g. use Ctrl and ' then E to get É, for cedillas you use the comma instead of the ' for grave use ` (that's the one to the left of the 1)

In addition there is a whole range of special characters that you can access using the Alt key and numeric keypad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Why?

We use UK / US keyboards since that is what we are used to (I have put US as well since the m-i-l is American!).

Accents are no problem. If you are in MS Word, you just use Ctrl with the accent you require then the letter to which you wish to apply the accent. (e.g. é use Ctrl and ' then press e) To accent capital letters just use the capital letter you require instead of the small letter e.g. use Ctrl and ' then E to get É, for cedillas you use the comma instead of the ' for grave use ` (that's the one to the left of the 1)

In addition there is a whole range of special characters that you can access using the Alt key and numeric keypad.
Word is quite good in that way, but there are quite a lot of other programs that don't know that trick - even typing in a forum post for instance... :)
 

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I've set up my computers to work with QWERTY keyboards for the last 20 + years that I have been in France. When I have bought a laptop or other device with a built in keyboard, I still switch to the "US International with dead keys" layout. To type accents, you use the single quote for the accent aigu, and the key just to the left of the 1 on the upper row of keys for the accent grave. When you hit the "accent key" you initially get nothing (i.e. the "dead key") and then you hit the letter you want to accent.

To type just the accent, you hit the accent key and then the space key.

International English keyboard layout and chart

Lots of other dead keys and tricks with this one, but if you're already a touch typist, it's really the easiest way to go.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I've set up my computers to work with QWERTY keyboards for the last 20 + years that I have been in France. When I have bought a laptop or other device with a built in keyboard, I still switch to the "US International with dead keys" layout. To type accents, you use the single quote for the accent aigu, and the key just to the left of the 1 on the upper row of keys for the accent grave. When you hit the "accent key" you initially get nothing (i.e. the "dead key") and then you hit the letter you want to accent.

To type just the accent, you hit the accent key and then the space key.

International English keyboard layout and chart

Lots of other dead keys and tricks with this one, but if you're already a touch typist, it's really the easiest way to go.
Cheers,
Bev
The keyboard in the link doesn't match mine, even for the keys highlighted in blue.

Still, when I was regularly using my inbuilt keyboard and my French separate keyboard, I could touch type reasonably well in French if I used the built-in one set to French keyboard - but nowhere near as fast.
 

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That is because it is an American keyboard layout.
Ah well, mine is supposed to be an American keyboard (which is usually the case for laptops purchased in Australia) - it certainly isn't a UK one. You may not have noticed, but even US keyboards to vary.
 

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I have no intention of switching keyboard layouts. The reason is that even when living full-time in France, any papers I write, any lectures I prepare, consulting work that I do, will be in English. As a very good long-time touch typist, switching keyboards would ruin me.

As for typing accents, I use Apple products, which all (MacBook, iPad, iPhone) have the same basis. Hold the key down for a few moments longer, a popup pops up with a number for each possible accent. Press that number and you're good to go. After a while you know the options and you don't have to wait for the popup. You end up doing it automatically, just as the rest of your typing.

accents.jpg
 

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I had to change from QUERTY to AZERTY literally overnight and mid-project, because I had to unexpectedly replace my computer - mine got stolen so I literally had to rush to Leclerc and buy one so I could get on with my work. I was stressed out in any case on account of the theft, and having to get used to the new keyboard layout whilst trying to keep on schedule with my deadlines nearly drove me demented. For a week or so I got Q's and Z's and semi-colons all over the place, and I sat staring at the keyboard looking everywhere for things like @, brackets etc. The air was blue from morning to night.

Having got through the pain barrier I wouldn't switch back. I can type as fast on AZERTY now as ever I could on QWERTY, of course when I have to use a QWERTY I get the same problems with Q's etc. I type probably 60 : 40 English to French, but I find there are advantages when typing French and no disadvantages with typing English, once you're used to it. However the first AZERTY I bought, with zero advance planning, didn't have a separate keypad for figures so you had to use the shift key to type figures, and I never really got the hang of that, kept ending up with a row of punctuation. Since then I've always made sure to choose ones with the numbers on a separate keypad.

Hope this helps.
 

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ET: That's because you're used to a number pad. Given my age :)D) I have no issues keying figures in the top row, even with the caps lock on - which actually means I never took advantage of the number pad.
 

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At the risk of linking different threads and of being unnecessarily contentious...is it showIng a lack of integration in France if you use a QWERTY keyboard to write French?

Anybody know about the rules for accents on French capital letters? My Swmbo was a primary school teacher and says "no" to accented capitals, but some Fr gov forms insist? What does the mighty (and often ignored ) Académie française say on this mega important topic?

...As for touch typing...I'm a long term example of the "hunt and peck" style.

DejW
 

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Integrated, schmintegrated - you do what is most comfortable for you. But nearly all operating systems allow you to change the keyboard setup. I've always liked that because you can really freak folks out if they are watching you type something and see you hit the s key but get the a on the screen. (Yes, I have a perverse sense of humor.)

One advantage of the International US layout is that you also have the accents and special characters for many other European languages, including German and the Scandinavian languages. Handy if you only occasionally have need of typing in French, German and whatever other language.

As far as keyboards are concerned, there is always the Dvorak keyboard (for English), that is supposed to have the letters in the most "ergonomic" location given their usage in the English language. Played with that one for a while, and it really doesn't take that much time to get used to it - though I kind of doubt it actually makes all that much difference in speed when you're typing.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Whilst I don't claim to be a touch typist I do use one a lot.
Windows has always allowed users to download a language pack so that you can choose which language to use. You can also do so in Word.
Investment in an azerty keyboard starts at around 13 euro for a USB one. Once plugged in Windows need to be told that it is French (go to keyboard setting).
Then to flip between the two languages simply press the Windows and Space bar keys at the same time.
As for getting used to where the keys are physically on the keyboard it seems to take about 20 minutes if I revert to a QWERTY keyboard.
 

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Considering what I do as a job, I am a disgrace when it comes to typing. Still seek and peck but very fast. After my 4th MacBook Pro in 8 years gave up on life I have bought the best IPad I could. Accents, I just hold my finger over the letter key and they all come up. Given up using voice mode, the result has been hysterical and at times extremely obscene!
 

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I am a touch typist - have been in France for 4 years and I admit I can't let go of my QWERTY keyboard. I use the same technique as Bev, with the USA International keyboard setting which allows me to type the accents.

The thing that annoys me immensely about the AZERTY keyboard is the need to press Shift just to get the numbers!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Thanks for all the replies. I like the idea of the US international layout, as it's seems less of a change from UK layout than the AZERTY one. (Remembering shift for numbers sounds painful!) The other thing I had been wondering about is a Canadian layout - since English+French is something a few of them need to be able to type. So might try that too.

Buying a new keyboard is fine for a desktop, but not feasibly for my laptop, so I might have to get/make some stickers while I learn where all the accents are.
 

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FWIW when I came to France I still had UK work commitments and wanted to learn French in a dedicated and serious way. Typing in English is easy on a French keyboard. Even with QWERTY work arounds it's still easier to use an AZERTY keyboard for French.

One of the things I did was to throw out my much loved, old and battered, Brit PC and bought a new one in France....Windows in French, error messages in French, and of course a French AZERTY keyboard. I also upgraded to a French version of MS office. I had a lot of very heavy French homework from my French language classes, so I thought "lets do it à la française".

For me, having a QWERTY keyboard is rather like some Brits who put UK 13A electrical sockets in their French homes....you have to live the dream in France and in French?

DejW
 

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I have no issue connecting a separate AZERTY keyboard to my laptop - just uses a USB port.

If you can get used to pressing shift for caps, you can get used to pressing shift for numbers (IMO) - just takes a brief period of adjustment :)
 

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I was thrown in at the deep end when I was a Project Manager for a computer audit firm and had to take teams around various countries in Europe. We had no choice but to use the keyboards already connected to the PCs we were auditing and each country seems to have something different, some slightly, others big time.

Personally I dislike the US keyboard (the m-i-l uses one) and the sodding about with the @,'," and having to do them before and after the text you want in order to get the quotes in the right places instead of just being able to put an apostrophe, having to do it twice and then delete one....
 
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