There is no easy way to learn to touch-type. It is one of those skills that can only be acquired by hard work and the memorising of the keyboard by constant repetition.
That said, the Almena Typing Method devised by Almena King-Raven, who describes herself on the CD-Rom as a training entrepreneur, probably does speed up the process. It teaches the keyboard using mnemonics, for example, the little finger on the left hand is confined to the letters QAC and these are learned as "quiet Aunt Zelda".
King-Raven developed the system 10 years ago and claims that it is possible to learn the keyboard, touch-type in only 20 minutes and reach speeds of 15-20 words per minute in less than one week. Twenty-five years ago the only proficient typists were graduates of secretarial schools. But the Nineties computer revolution has increased the need for students to have more than a two-fingered relationship with the keyboard. Since its conception in the Eighties, more than a million students in the US, Canada and the Caribbean have benefited from chanting simple phrases like - "Run from Vicky to get Betty" - during typing lessons.
The Almena Typing Method comes in two versions - a corporate pack and a schools' version. The latter is aimed at 8 to 13-year-olds, but the 6-year-old I used as a guinea pig managed to learn most of the 26 letters on the keyboard in two half-hour sessions before she refused to do any more on the grounds that it was too boring. To be fair, guinea pig Anna's fingers were also aching. However, to have progressed to becoming an adequate touch-typist would probably have required a significantly greater degree of application and time than the blurb on the interactive CD-Rom would have you believe - "Almena has reduced training tie from 20 hours to 20 minutes".
The drawbacks of this teach-yourself touch-typing are a fairly amateurish video and American mnemonics - you have to learn EDC by memorising "every dollar counts". The mnemonics are also particularly unimaginative, but re-written with children in mind, this CD-Rom could be useful. Once all schools are online, smart kids who know the keyboard will have an advantage. Even now, for those children who write slowly and laboriously, the keyboard is liberating.
The system is easy to use and combines memory techniques, music and motivational passages. It is divided up into four lessons - one teaching keyboard, one where you practice the sentences, one, two and five-minute timed tests to build up your speed and the last one devoted to teaching how to eliminate errors (not included in the schools' model).
The secret of success with the Almena method is you really have to master the first lesson but, at any point during the tutorial, you can go to back to the main menu and the first lessons. It is a good idea to repeat the keyboard lessons because you are warned against using the backspace delete button. In fact you have to get so good that you don't need to correct using the backspace key. Indeed there is one session where you can't correct so you have to start the whole lesson again. Unfortunately King-Raven does not take into account how tired a trainee typists' fingers get - she is a hard task-mistress.
Almena Typing Method from Q2000 comes in two versions - corporate pack and schools', priced at pound;34.99. The schools' pack includes a video tape, CD-Rom and teachers' notes. Tel: 01483 267267
Online star rating
Suitability for purpose ****
Ease of use ****
Value for money ***