In and out of the school setting, the use of keyboards has gradually been diminishing the need for pen and paper. Some bemoan the loss of handwriting skills. Others welcome the convenience of tapping on keys and prefer it to pushing a pencil through time-consuming strokes. Most likely, there are more people in the latter group. However, we need to recognize that although our daily lives put keyboards in front of us at work, home, and school, technology has yet to completely eradicate the need for pens and pencils. We must still handwrite notes to our housemates, sign in at the doctor’s office, and fill out paper forms our employers give to us. (Personally, I still handwrite my grocery list and keep it posted on the fridge until my next visit to the store.)
I think it’s important for our English language learners to have practice producing both forms of written text. Society requires typing and handwriting, so our classroom activities and take-home assignments should not give preference to one form and exclude the other. Students who plan to enter an English-speaking university or workplace will feel more prepared if they are confident of these basic skills in the target language. For instance, a rigorous academic or professional environment doesn’t allow one the luxury of typing out reports or e-mails at a snail’s pace.
Here are some interesting resources to develop both handwriting and typing skills.
- Born Thinker. Great for those who need to see a visual demonstration of the strokes made for each letter of the alphabet. The program teaches printed letters, upper and lower case.
- Handwriting Worksheets. This site allows you to print out custom-made worksheets. You can write sets of words or whole sentences. It’s good for printed letters.
- Handwriting for Kids. Worksheets are appropriate for younger and older students. The site provides nice options for cursive writing (word level v. sentence level). They even have the classic exercise: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. Check out the option for “Make Your Own Page” under the heading Manuscript.
- Kid’s Typing Skills. Online tutorial that teaches touch typing. Adult-appropriate. Free download.
- Typing Games. A set of ten free games to practice touch typing. (I found “TypeDown” very addictive! I only got to Level 8.)
- List of Typing Tutorials. Take your pick. I selected two above, but you may find others more to your liking.