Small Tip: Best Bilingual Keyboard Setting for Your Computer

  • December 14, 2018
  • Kayla Cardinal Lafrance

Sometimes, a small tweak, even if annoying to start implementing, can in the long run save seconds of double-checking. Everybody can appreciate doing something right the first time, one time. As a "millenial" glued to a computer since the age of 7, I learned how to type virtually at the same time I learned how to read and write. I did have something to learn that was not obvious to me for over 20 years, something about typing on a computer: the "US-International" keyboard setting. It sounds a bit ridiculous to suggest that your keyboard layout can make a huge difference, but since I switched a couple of years ago, I cannot live without it, it's actually the first thing I customize when using a new computer. However, I had to slightly change the way I type. It took me roughly two weeks to get used to.

As lawyers, the written word, or typing, is a key speed skill. Every once in a while, I have to write in French, or make reference to a word in another language like Spanish, etc. When practising in more than one language, many people have an easily accessible dropdown menu to change their keyboard layout. However, it can be annoying to toggle keyboard settings, which can accidentally "flip" on occasion when you change screens, apps, or programs. And accidental toggling between language settings was personally annoying for me because most of what I typed in my day-to-day life was in English, but I couldn't sacrifice easy access to accents and guillemets for those offhand occasions where I needed to respond quickly in French.

So I had my keyboard set to some version of "Canadian French," deleted all other languages to avoid any "accidental language flips," and always struggled to find most of the symbols that didn't match my English keyboard. If I was using an unfamiliar computer with another keyboard setting, I'd be stuck with, for example, using the "Insert Symbol" function in a Word document and would sometimes even google a symbol to "copy/paste" into my text just because I was so annoyed that I couldn't find the characters I wanted quickly enough. I thought this was the best I could do, but it wasn't.