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The impact of touch typing on words per day productivty
Thread poster: John Moran

John Moran  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 06:46
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
Jan 19, 2014

Hi,

I am doing some research into translator productivity.

If I were a translator thinking about learning to touch type would that time investment pay off for me?

I am particularly interested in the hearing from anybody who has taught himself or herself to touch type and whether that person noticed any productivity gain in terms of words per day when translating.

p.s. I am also a translator and I cannot touch type so the question is not just academic.


 

Narcis Lozano Drago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:46
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not just translation speed Jan 19, 2014

If you are looking for exact numbers for words per day productivity, I may not be able to help you, but yes, there is a noticeable increase in productivity AND quality, and not just in simple translation speed:

- Typing becomes much more comfortable and easy, so you can type for much longer without getting tired.
- You focus all your attention on the screen, not in the keyboard (not even peripheral vision.) You can focus in both the source text and the text that you are writing, avoiding typos and other errors. This alone can be the single best benefit of touch-typing.
- You can also type emails faster (quotes, communication with clients, paperwork.)

Narcís


 

Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:46
Member (2009)
French to English
Yes Jan 19, 2014

John Moran wrote:

Hi,

I am doing some research into translator productivity.

If I were a translator thinking about learning to touch type would that time investment pay off for me?

I am particularly interested in the hearing from anybody who has taught himself or herself to touch type and whether that person noticed any productivity gain in terms of words per day when translating.

p.s. I am also a translator and I cannot touch type so the question is not just academic.




I can't imagine having a job involving typing all day and not being able to touch type. That being said, I do know some phenomenally fast 'hunt and peck' typists. Some of the latter really do touch type, but they use an inefficient self-taught method.

How fast is your typing speed now? Back when I was applying to jobs with minimum typing speeds, the bottom end was usually around 50 cwpm (correct words per minute). This gradually increased as I took on jobs which required daily typing and I am now around 65-70 or higher. I consider this to be marginal as I knew people on the bleeding edge of 120 - most of whom were transcriptionists.

Now, the real improvement in speed would be to use something like Dragon Naturally Speaking which can lead to productivity gains for even the fastest typists. However, I would *still* learn to touch type as I find it unfathomable to go through life without this basic skill.

It is really easy. When I was learning, we used a book that had us type the home row keys over and over again: asdf asdf asdf, then jkl; jkl; jkl;. Then we typed one letter on the home key and one above it aq aq aq aq ... and then one below az az az... etc. After a while, it is all muscle memory - which is the entire point of the exercise. Thinking in two languages is enough, who wants to worry about where the keys are? You can still find the basic typing books, but there are also many websites to help these days.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:46
Chinese to English
Accuracy not speed Jan 19, 2014

I'm a slow touch typist, and for me the issue is not the speed at which you type, it's the level of accuracy and automation you achieve. Like John said above, it's the benefit of never having to think about your typing.

Let's take our notional figure of 2000 words per day. If you hunt and peck at 40wpm, that's 50 minutes' typing. If you can type fast at 100wpm, it's 20 minutes' typing. A gain, but not a massive gain, particularly as for me, typing time is also thinking time.

The key is reducing your correction time. If you can type it right first go, then you're going to be fast, whatever your theoretical typing speed. If learning touch typing makes you start hitting wrong keys, then it might actually have a negative impact on your overall speed and productivity.

That's why I rather disagree with Jenn here:

Jenn Mercer wrote:

Now, the real improvement in speed would be to use something like Dragon Naturally Speaking which can lead to productivity gains for even the fastest typists.


I have Dragon, and I'm impressed with it, but I don't find it anything like accurate enough to replace typing for most of my translation work. (I use Dragon for transcription and occasional highly repetitive text.) Whenever it trips up on a brand name or a foreign name, you have to go back and rather laboriously edit, and that's what eats the time.

Sorry not to be able to offer any harder data than that, but that's the way I see it. Learn to touch type if it will make you more comfortable with your computer, not for the small potential speed gains.


 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:46
Italian to English
Eye strain Jan 19, 2014

Narcis Lozano Drago wrote:

- You focus all your attention on the screen, not in the keyboard (not even peripheral vision.) You can focus in both the source text and the text that you are writing, avoiding typos and other errors.



And reduce the considerable eye strain involved in constantly switching from screen to keyboard.

[Edited at 2014-01-19 08:33 GMT]


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:46
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Yes, definitely Jan 19, 2014

Yes, touch typing definitely increases my capacity, as others have said.
I learned to touch type in English, French and Spanish at the French Institute in London eons ago on an old-fashioned typewriter. The learning process was tedious, but well worth the effort. Then came electric typewriters and eventually word processors, all of which I learned to use "on the job" and they increased my capacity even more. It's ingrained in me now almost as much as breathing and walking.
My fingers have now effaced most of the letters and numbers from my keyboard but it doesn't matter because my fingers "know" where the letters and numbers are so I don't have to look for them and can concentrate on what I'm writing.
Well worth the tedium, I'd say.


 

Radian Yazynin  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:46
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
In combination with a CAT Jan 19, 2014

where predictive typing is used you are just inspired by your progress, which otherwise might be overlooked (when not using touch typing).

[Edited at 2014-01-19 08:53 GMT]


 

FarkasAndras
Local time: 07:46
English to Hungarian
+ ...
worth it Jan 19, 2014

Jenny Forbes wrote:

Well worth the tedium, I'd say.


Fully agree. And it doesn't even have to be that tedious. You just read up a bit on the basic technique and start practicing with games like this one: http://www.typingmaster.com/individuals/bubbles.asp
and this one: http://www.shockwave.com/gamelanding/typershark.jsp
and doing timed typing tests on sites like this one: http://play.typeracer.com/
... and you'll eventually get the hang of it. I was a 30-40wpm hunt and peck typist and got up to 70-80 wpm touch typing this way quite easily. Of course you can also take a course or follow a programme of some sort but those are bound to bore the pants off you.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:46
Russian to English
+ ...
Touch typing,meaning typing without looking at the keyboard has a lot of advanatges, and most people Jan 19, 2014

who do typing professionally are capable of typing this way, although they may sometimes prefer to look at the keyboards, or look at the screen and the keybord, or the whole segment of space including:the keyboard, the screen and the coffee cup on your your table, or desk. Yes, it definitely has many advantages to be able to do it.

I was originally thinking about the swipe method used on Ipones and Ipads, for some strange reason, because people don't refer to typing without looking as touch type, at least in ordinary life, excluding any typing courses or professional typists talking among themselves. I totally forgot about the term. For me all professional typing is touch typing. The term was so obvious that I took it for something else.

Everything I said earlier was with the swipe typing in mind. I personally do not like it at all. Anything programmed with the view of Ipones and IPads usually very inconvenient for regualar keyboards You would have to rely on the program's automatic predictions--wrong at least 50% of the time. I type very fast in such programs as MSWord and I really love traditional typing, so swipe typing would be a big disadvantage to me. When typing directly on various internet sites you have to struggle with the Iphone or IPad friendly word editors, which, sometimes, can become a real nightmare--you may have to correct every second word that acquires some alien letters in them, or separate fifteen words glued together. I am not sure why such things happen sometimes, but they do. No swipe typing for me, plus I don't really like the touch of glass or using the stylus. Those problems are most likely not related just to the swipe typing but to any type of typing on the internet.

I absolutely agree with Phil--it is not the speed that matters in translation but rather the accuracy.

[Edited at 2014-01-19 10:45 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:46
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Jealous Jan 19, 2014

I once worked for a company where the boss's secretary amazed me by her incredible speed at typing and never looking at the keyboard.

Since then I've made a few attempts at learning it myself but as Jenny says, it's tedious and I cannot stand tedium, so I "just manage".

Now that I use an Italian keyboard I'm not even sure it's possible, here in the UK, to learn touch typing - unless I adopt an English keyboard,which would defeat the purpose.


 

Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:46
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
Another vote for touch typing Jan 19, 2014

LilianBNekipelo wrote:
I type very fast in such programs as MSWord and I really love traditional typing, so touch typing is a big disadvantage to me. (...) No touch typing for me, plus I don't really like the touch of glass or using the stylus.

Touch typing means typing without looking at the keyboard, not typing on a touch screen.

Tom in London wrote:
Now that I use an Italian keyboard I'm not even sure it's possible, here in the UK, to learn touch typing

Can't see the problem, Tom. I touch type in English using a Spanish layout. If you mean switching to a UK keyboard and learning to touch type all at the same time, then I get your point.

I taught myself to touch type after about a year of using the two-finger approach (and being quite fast at it). As Jenn says, it's very easy to learn, but you have to be very strict with yourself, and not lapse into your old ways when the pressure's on. If I were you I'd do it when you have a quiet period, or a translation with a very long deadline. To begin with it's very slow - much slower than the two-finger method - but it will soon overtake your old method and you'll wonder why you didn't switch before.

Go for it!


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:46
Member (2008)
Italian to English
OK I'll try again Jan 19, 2014

Emma Goldsmith wrote:
Go for it!


OK I'll have another go because if there's one thing that would improve my efficiency it would be touch typing.

Just typing this message involved a great deal of backtracking to correct my typing errors. And a lot of looking up and down. Ouch - my neck !

Is there a good website that will help me to learn touch typing with an Italian keyboard?

[Edited at 2014-01-19 10:40 GMT]


 

Christophe Delaunay  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:46
Spanish to French
+ ...
And the cherry on the cake! Jan 19, 2014

Here is a link for touch-typing freeware and shareware:

http://typingsoft.com/all_typing_tutors.htm

It doesn't have to be tedious. Those programs make the learning more fun. Just enjoy learning a new thing and amaze yourself with it. You'll soon harvest the fruits of your work!icon_smile.gif


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:46
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Wow Jan 19, 2014

Christophe Delaunay wrote:

Here is a link for touch-typing freeware and shareware:

http://typingsoft.com/all_typing_tutors.htm

It doesn't have to be tedious. Those programs make the learning more fun. Just enjoy learning a new thing and amaze yourself with it. You'll soon harvest the fruits of your work!icon_smile.gif


Thanks Christophe. I've downloaded TIPP10 and will have a go.


 

Radian Yazynin  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:46
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
@ Tom Jan 19, 2014

Don't forget to acquire something like Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. Such (broken) keyboards are specifically fitted for those who have learnt this kind of typing and are better in view of anatomic peculiarities.

 
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