Touch typing refers to the skill of typing without looking down at the keyboard while using the “correct” fingers. When done properly the user simply “feels” and “touches” the right keys and this enables him or her to type really fast and pay more attention to the document or software they are working with on the screen. Touch typing is also more ergonomic for the hands and neck and although it can be tough to learn at first it’s definitely worth it in the long run.
I remember being in middle school years ago and having computer typing class. We used a program called Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing that actually had a keyboard shown on the screen with hand graphics reaching for the correct keys as a guide. After months of practice I came away with decent skills but never quite got the hang of numbers or certain types of punctuation. Ten key number typing was also something I hadn’t mastered in school but the basics were enough to get me off on the right track. Years later I worked at a grocery store and learned ten key out of habit but Mavis Beacon helped me learn much faster and today they offer online versions and even a game on Facebook. Check out the screenshot below:
So let’s say you’ve never learned how to type properly. You get Mavis Beacon or some other program that helps you learn the correct keys but somehow “pecking” or looking down at the keyboard is just easier since that’s how you first learned. This is especially true for adults or people who only type occasionally. I’ve found that the best way to really learn fast typing without looking down is to use video games. That’s right! Computer games do a lot more than just rot kids’ brains, they actually significantly improve typing ability because they provide an incentive to watch the screen and act quickly.
Not all computer games are equal when it comes to typing; race car games for example won’t improve your typing at all in most cases. The best games in my opinion are massively multiplayer online roll playing games (MMORPG’s) like World of Warcraft or online first person shooters (FPS’s) like Counter Strike. Since these games are played online and involve real life people who chat back and forth there is more typing required and the game itself demands that you keep your eyes fixed on the screen because that’s where the action is. In fact, if you don’t keep your eyes on the screen you could lose the game or miss what your buddy is saying. So you’ve got a huge incentive to type quickly and do it without looking down.
A new free to play game just came out that works on both Mac and PC and really focuses on typing quickly. The game is called Z-Type and plays a lot like Centipede but instead of blasting bugs, in Z-Type you blast words and letters as they rain down from the top of the screen. Each level gets progressively harder with more words and even individual letters raining down in bursts. The soundtrack is great and the game does a lot to encourage fast accurate typing.