Can Typing Improve English Skills?

See Also: Communication Skills

Both students and professionals can engage in a wide range of activities to improve their English skills. Singing, touch-typing, role-playing and keeping vocabulary journals are all types of activities that improve English competency.

Instead of focusing on a single practice, however, it's also best to experiment with several different English practicing games and fun activities. Typing, for instance, will help students improve spelling, vocabulary and fluent writing/expression.

Singing and role playing will improve pronunciation and boost a person’s confidence in practicing English verbally - a common challenge with ESL learners. Using a wide range of activities ensures a learners’ interest in learning English remains.

How Typing Improves Students' English

Touch-typing is a cognitive process that compels the student to draw on their English knowledge at an almost unconscious level.

Touch typing is a highly demanding motor activity which engages various cognitive parts of the brain. For instance, it makes the typist conscious of word spelling and form, increasing their focus on language. As a result, a student is more conscious when typing, in an effort to ensure they type out the words correctly. This level of engagement is what will allow the student to gradually improve their English spelling through typing.

Less error focused

In view of its structure, typing on a computer is not as unforgiving as handwriting is. The student can easily undo or delete mistakes and start all over, making it less frustrating. When, in the end, all of the previous errors have been erased as if they never existed, the exercise becomes less focused on mistakes and more on the final product. As a result, the student is more confident in practicing their English skills through typing activities and generally finds the learning process more rewarding.

Fun and cool

Computers, laptops and other mobile devices are more creative, interactive, and modern, something which appeals greatly to students. As a result, students are more eager and focused when completing an exercise on a computer than when it’s on a piece of paper.

Variety of Activities

Typing can improve English skills in many different ways. The student doesn’t need to touch type a piece of text in order to improve their English skills. Learning through typing is an educational progress that is often indirectly taking place during other exercises.

Students improve their spelling and enrich their vocabulary with touch-typing exercises. For instance, an online spelling game will encourage the young learner to practice their spelling through typing within a fun, interactive context and most importantly, in the form of play. This is an advantage of typing that no other form of language practice can boast of; it lends itself to a wide spectrum of typing-based games and activities all the while making these activities appealing to the learner.

Vocabulary, spelling, and writing games can be played on computers and help the student gain confidence in their English language knowledge and performance.

Typing as an Interactive Medium and a Learning Tool

Through the mere action of typing, students become familiar with the many opportunities typing provides them. They can learn, for instance, how online forums, chat rooms and other online communities let them practice their English spelling and/or vocabulary skills at their own pace and at any time that’s convenient for them.

Typing therefore functions both as a communication medium and as a learning tool, both of which contribute to English skills improvement.

Is Writing Better at Improving English Skills Than Typing?

Handwriting makes the thoughts we've put on paper more memorable, and it directly contributes to English language skills improvement, especially spelling.

An example of how this works

A study looked into whether writing down words when learning a new language helps the student remember and learn the proper spelling of words. Yet another review of previous literature on note-taking’s importance in learning has also pointed out that note-taking lets students process information better and that teaching students how to take notes will have a wider positive impact on their education.

Researchers have concluded that because of the cognitive processes hand-writing activates, it makes learning and activities seem more urgent, motivating the learner to be more focused and action-oriented.

Write It Down, Make It Happen: Knowing What You Want, and Getting It, a book by Henriette Anne Klauser on goal-achieving, suggests that by writing down our goals we are forcing our brains into an action-oriented alertness state which makes it easier for us to initiate those actions to realize our goals.

This could apply to learning English as well. When we write on paper instead of on a keyboard, we’re often more focused and aware of the cognitive processes that underlie writing. Consequently, over the longer term, it helps us improve our English skills.

The argument is that in contrast to keyboarding, handwriting engages your brain more fully. With typing you only press on keys, but with handwriting, you put effort into creating each individual letter and putting one next to the other in a line. By combining fine motor control with the rest of the mental processing needed to produce grammatical sentences, handwriting is a full-brain activity.

So which is more efficient for improving English?

Both writing on paper and typing on a keyboard come with their own set of benefits. It’s important that both these techniques are used according to curriculum goals and students’ abilities. A combination of typing and writing ensures learners get the best of both worlds and achieve a satisfactory level of English proficiency in speaking, writing, reading and listening.

Should you decide to focus on one, typing should be your method of choice, because its advantages outnumber those of writing.