TTRS stands for Touch-type Read and Spell and is different from traditional typing programs in a few ways. For one, the words in TTRS lessons are whole words instead of nonsense key combinations. In this way, you can learn to spell as you learn to type.
More importantly, the words on screen are accompanied by audio which teaches you to connect letters to sounds. This is important for learning to read, as well as to spell. TTRS also follows a carefully structured curriculum of English phonics, so typing drills build automaticity in reading, as you progress through the course.
There are many ways to practice a list of spelling words, from making flash cards, to using oral recitation, or just plain writing the words out by hand. Yet one of the most effective and easiest approaches is using a computer or tablet and wireless keyboard.
Not only is typing convenient, but it is also a multi-sensory activity that involves kinetic elements which can aid learning and retention of letter patterns. Typing is a highly accessible solution for learners who struggle with fine-motor skills and find it painful to write by hand, such as in dyspraxia.
Moreover, touch-typing a word allows muscle memory to encode the spelling as a series of key strokes. This is a great aid for students who struggle with language-based learning difficulties. Learn more in this post on touch-typing for learners with dyslexia. Also note, learners with no disabilities, difficulties, or learning differences will still benefit from this approach as multi-sensory learning is effective for everyone.
Typing is one of those skills that takes practice to learn. There’s never been an individual, the world’s fastest typists included, who sat down at a keyboard and immediately began typing.
The reason for this is the muscles in your hands and fingers need time to adjust to new movement patterns. That’s why it’s important to introduce a handful of keys at a time, and move on only once you’ve mastered them.
Depending on the program you use, you might start with the home row keys or focus on vowels and then consonants following a curriculum of English phonics. Some courses may have drills made up of nonsense letter combinations, and others, like Touch-type Read and Spell, might take a whole word approach, making the course easier to follow for people with learning differences.
The benefit of typing real words from the beginning is that once the movement patterns have been acquired, they are stored in muscle memory and become procedural knowledge. Procedural knowledge is something you know how to do automatically and don’t have to think about, like driving or riding a bike. Turning spelling into procedural knowledge can help individuals who have dyslexia because the letters and letter sequences are saved in memory as a pattern of key-strokes that the fingers type out automatically.
One of the main differences between the touch typing method of keyboarding and two-fingered typing is in how you allocate your attention while you work at the computer. When you type with two or more fingers, also known as the “hunt and peck” approach, your attention is split between visually scanning for keys, looking at the screen and/or looking at any additional materials you are reading or copying from.
For adults who lack familiarity with computers, life in the modern age can be a challenge. That’s because technology is involved in almost every aspect of our lives: we need it for work, school, keeping in touch, day-to-day task management, remote education and even online shopping.
Being able to use a word processor is required for students and working professionals because formal assignment and written reports must be typed. Referencing and research that used to be done in a library is now largely undertaken via online searches of the worldwide web and academic databases.
You need an email address to sign up for new services, make online purchases, apply for jobs and education programs, and communicate with friends and family. Even something as simple as locating a suitable local tradesman is more efficient when done through an online search vs. looking in the yellow pages.
And while tablets and smartphones account for a large portion of our daily technology use, computers are still an important tool.
Thankfully adult basic skills courses exist to help learners achieve the tech-fluency they need to feel more comfortable using computers and many local libraries and community centers offer free introductory programs too.
There are a number of points to consider when you’re looking for a new keyboard and because every individual has different needs, there’s no one size fits all solution. The best keyboard will depend on the size of your hands, any motor-skills difficulties or visual impairments you struggle with, how frequently you plan to use it, and your approach to typing – specifically if you hunt-and-peck or touch-type.
Keyboards come in different shapes, sizes, and layouts and you can also purchase accessories such as overlay mats and metal key-guards to enhance the typing experience. These may be particularly useful for typists who struggle to type a key without pressing neighboring letters or who have difficulty seeing the letters printed on keys. Children who are learning how to touch-type and are under the age of ten may also benefit from a child-size keyboard that allows them to reach the keys more easily.
Many teachers are interested in having their students acquire keyboarding skills. That’s because typing is a useful ability for completing homework and essays, doing online research, sitting standardized exams and even taking notes in class. It’s a skill that will serve students in higher education as well as in their future careers and following a typing course can lead to improvements in reading, writing and spelling abilities – depending on the approach taken.
Certain programs can even be used to boost confidence and motivation for learners who have developed a negative attitude toward school! But while some institutions offer touch-typing as part of a computer science curriculum, it’s not always available and often parents and educators who advocate for its inclusion must take on the challenge of teaching typing themselves -- with the help of a self-study program of course.
As more and more people type on a computer for work or school, wrist injury due to keyboard misuse is becoming increasingly common. It begins with tingling and numbness in the hand and can become so painful that some people even require surgery. This pain goes by several names including Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CSI). Both conditions are considered occupational hazards that employers and educators take seriously.
Following instruction in safe typing practice is the first step in avoiding wrist pain, but it can also help to employ some computer workspace accommodations, such as getting an ergonomic keyboard, fitted desks and chair, and/or gel wrist pad.
There are two common ways to use a keyboard: you can use your pointers to hit one key at a time and spell out words and punctuation. This has also been called the “Hunt and Peck” method. Alternatively, it’s possible to place your whole hands down on the keyboard with fingers resting lightly on the A, S, D, F and ;, J, K, L keys, and thumbs hovering over the space bar.
You then lift one finger at a time to type a string of keys and spell out words through a series of coordinated and automatized movements. What’s different in the “touch typing” approach is that it requires a certain amount of beginner knowledge so you type the right keys with the right fingers. It also involves some fairly intricate movements that need to be rehearsed until they feel comfortable and you can execute them at top speed.
Lastly, you do it without looking down at the keyboard!