Thursday, May 14, 2015

Easy foreign language characters in Google Chrome

One of the Spanish teachers at my school wanted an easier way of entering Spanish punctuation and accent marks, particularly using Google tools. Cutting and pasting various Spanish-specific characters into various Google docs and Gmail was a big waste.  After a bit of research and trial and (many) errors, I think I found something that works pretty well. It's a Chrome extension called Google Input Tools and it seems to improve the experience of typing in a foreign language (and there are many choices) using Google Apps for Ed. Interestingly, I cannot seem to get it to work correctly entering info into THIS BLOG POST. Oh well, seems to work fine in Gmail, Docs, Forms and Slides,

Go to the Chrome Web Store and search for Google Input Tools. Or, click this direct link.  Install it to your Chrome browser and allow it to run. Make sure you are logged in so you can get to the extension anywhere you are logged in to Chrome.

You will then see the extension to the right of the omni bar at the top of the Chrome browser. To activate the foreign language keyboard, simply click the icon, select Extension Options, and then select the language. You may need to turn the desktop keyboard back on, which you do by clicking Show Keyboard.
The keyboard will appear and you can see what keys equate to the punctuation needed. For instance, the ñ is the colon/semi-colon key for English. You can move the floating keyboard by clicking and dragging to the desired location.

It will take a bit of getting used to, but for those who write in other languages, this will certainly be a time-saver. Worst case, you can look at the floating keyboard and point and click at the appropriate character and achieve what you want easily.

Do you have any other ways of getting this done? I looked into settings for International Keyboard (on a PC) and a few other approaches, and they seemed more problematic and hassle-filled. This is a good choice for the casual teacher-user who just wants to be able to get the job done.


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