As I mentioned in my last post, I'm not yet spending any actual time studying the Greek language. I plan to begin studying intensely when February begins, but for now the most important step is comfortably reading and writing in the native Greek alphabet. Once I begin focused study, I don't want my progress to be slowed by problems with the alphabet.
What you see in the photo above is some of my typing practice. I've added support for the Greek keyboard on my Mac so that I could practice typing the words I learn. Typing the words not only helps me to practice using the Greek keyboard, but it also helps me to commit to memory the words I'm learning.
It's super-easy to set your keyboard for typing in another language on the Mac. In the System Settings, under Language & Text, you can add as many additional keyboard layouts as you want by checking the boxes in the Input Sources tab.
If you check the option to Show Input menu in menu bar, you can easily change between keyboard layouts by clicking the flag icon in the menu bar. I also assign keyboard shortcuts to cycle through keyboard layouts with a convenient keystroke.
Also, conveniently, when you're first learning and unsure of where some of the keys are, you can bring up the on-screen keyboard by clicking Show keyboard viewer in that same menu. Personally, I find that I learn faster by reaching for keys (and failing a lot) until I get used to reaching in the right spot. However at times — at least at first — it does help to see where everything is.
You probably noticed the yellow accent key in the photo. It's yellow because it's a two-stroke modifier key. Pressing that key adds an accent mark to the next letter you type. According to the rules of Modern Greek, accents are written for all words of more than one syllable — a feature that makes pronunciation quite easy to learn!
I learn to touch-type in every language I learn, since using the language is the whole reason for learning it, and typing is an important part of using it. For languages with a latin alphabet, the U.S. Extended keyboard makes accent marks easy to type. But for any language with a different alphabet, I highly recommend spending a few weeks just getting comfortable with the alphabet, as I am doing, because it will greatly improve the way you learn later!