Lauren has sometimes seen me typing and asked how she could learn to type as fast as I do. I tell her the story about how my mom checked an old typing book out of the library when I was in junior high and made me practice typing (on a typewriter) one summer. As soon as she hears the story, Lauren promptly forgets about her desire to learn to type quickly and accurately.
When she saw a video commercial for The Typing Coach, however, she decided that she really did want to put forth the effort to learn to type. The Typing Coach Online Typing Course is an online program designed to help anyone learn touch typing skills.
The goal of Typing Coach is to teach students to type at least ten words per minute with no more than one error per minute. With additional practice using this program's techniques, Typing Coach believes that people can reach typing speeds of 45+ words per minute.
The Typing Coach uses audio, video, and written materials to teach students. Before she could get started, we needed to print some of the materials off so that Lauren could practice typing from a printed page and not the screen. She then started with a video explaining the program, teaching correct typing posture, and where to place her hands on the keyboard. (We had to improvise a bit and add a step stool for her to put her feet on because we can't adjust the height of the desk.)
I was actually quite confused when we started using the program. After seeing the cute cartoon figures on the website, I expected to find a program that was more visually appealing and easier for Lauren to use independently. Instead, the program interface is a bit bare bones:
Each lesson has an audio component (20-30 minutes long) where the student listens to an instructor and learns the position of the keys on the keyboard. I really like the way The Typing Coach uses audio to introduce the keys because it helped Lauren learn where the keys were without looking at her fingers. I found that the audio instruction moved too slowly for my pace and I kept wanting to have a fast-forward option. Thankfully, Lauren didn't object to the pacing in the lessons. After learning the position of the keys using the audio materials, Lauren uses the printed practice sheets to further improve her skills.
The Typing Coach does not have a typing area built into the program. Rather, the student uses a separate word processing document to do the actual typing.
The Typing Coach emphasizes perfection in learning to type. The student is reminded multiple times that they should work on each individual practice sheet until she can type each line perfectly before they take a test in the assessment center. She should be able to do this without looking at the keyboard or monitor at all. Because Lauren has taken this goal very seriously, she still does not feel confident enough to take any of the assessments in the program.
I tried out the practice and testing center for myself. Honestly, I found the tests to be very difficult. Like I said earlier, I'm a rather fast typist (years of school practice and then summers spent in data entry/secretarial jobs have honed my skills). The tests are only one minute long, only one error is allowed during that time, and the monitor is supposed to be covered during the test. Additionally, the backspace/delete keys are disabled for the test. Often I realized that I had made a mistake and would automatically try to correct it. I wasn't allowed to make a correction and often found myself one letter off for the rest of the row (and got all those letters wrong too). I hope that Lauren will do better with this method of testing because she hasn't already gotten into the habit of correcting her own typing as she goes along. If she does, however, struggle with the perfection needed to pass the assessments, I may exercise my right as the homeschool teacher to allow her to move on with a not-quite-perfect score.
I asked Lauren what she thought about this program and was surprised to hear her say that she likes it. She's not bothered by the number of times it takes her to get her practice pages correct; she simply likes knowing that she's learning to type like a grown-up. I suspect that she'll be working through the materials for quite some time, but I have confidence that she'll be a proficient touch typist when she's finished with the program.
One year access for a single student to use The Typing Coach costs $17. I would recommend this program for students who are serious about learning touch typing.