In order to type in another language with spellcheck and everything, all one has to do is open up Abiword, make sure that the aspell dictionary for the language is installed, and hit Tools -> Change Language -> (pick language). It just works.
I can recall fighting with languages in MS Word some time ago, so it's nice to be able to do French homework without any hassle (especially using keyboard accent composing). These days I'm doing nearly all of my word processing in Abiword, with rare fallbacks to OO.o.
(P.S. Thank you, Abiword folks. )