Using Google As A Teacher

Jim Stroud from wrote an interesting document about using Google as an aid to language learning. Many of his tips involve using Google’s vast text index to compare a search to what Google has on hand, for example:

3. Is there a word missing?

By using an asterix in a sentence, Google will assume that a word is missing and search for phrases that it thinks fills in that blank. For example…

By searching, How are you * today?

Google returns search results that includes:
*   “How are you doing today?”

*   “How are you feeling today?”

*   “How are you guys today?”

*   “How are you coping today?”

Click here to see for yourself and pay attention to the phrases that are bolded.

I really like his ideas, as they help language learners (learning English or anything else) to compare what they think is right, to what is right. If you run a search on what you think is right and get 5 results, it’s probably wrong. If you get 150,000 results, you’re probably onto something. 🙂

You can read Jim’s post here, or download the full guide here.

By |2009-01-12T08:42:20+00:00January 12th, 2009|All Entries, Language Learning, Learning Tips, Resources|3 Comments


  1. Joshua J. Slone January 12, 2009 at 11:08 am - Reply

    I didn’t know that asterisk trick. However, I’m just ending up using it for non-language-learning searches, like “Josh Teeters is *”.

  2. Anna January 14, 2009 at 10:38 am - Reply

    I didn’t know about the asterisk either. I think it will be useful for future translations English > German. Upto now I have been typing in whole sentences and seeing what results come up, but I think this method will be more effective in certain cases, e.g. when you know there is a word that is used in a certain context, but can’t quite remember what it is.

  3. Josh January 26, 2009 at 8:25 am - Reply

    Slone: You are a strange one, sir. 🙂

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