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Finding Materials on the Internet

Finding materials for the languauge classroom can be one of the most challenging aspects of using the Internet as a resource. In 1987 there were only about 10,000 web pages on the Net. That number today is over 300 million. Add to that the fact that web sites that are written in English are targeted to native English speakers rather than students of English as a second or foreign language, and the challange to find suitable materials for your students becomes even more daunting. So, in this unit we will examine search tools that can be used to help us find materials.

Types of Search Tools

Directories: A directory is an index that is monotered and updated by people who own or work for the directory. When a site is submitted for inclusion into the directory, someone from the directory reviews and categorises the site. It is then added to the database and assigned key words. When someone uses those key words in a search string, that site is listed in the results. Of course, key word searches are only one way to search a directory. Another way to search a directory is by browsing the categories. By beginning at the top category and following the subctegories down level by level, you will eventually find what you are looking for. Of course, key word searches are much faster. Yahoo is the pioneer of directory sites.

Search engines: Unlike directories, search engines use robots to find and index web sites. These robots (often called spiders) are computer programs that have been designed to scan the Web. When robots scan a site they collect date that is in the META tags of the webpages. This information includes the site title, author, key words, and site description. This information is then returned to the search engine, classifed and added to the data base.

According to Wikipedia, The world's most popular search engines are:

Search engineMarket share in July 2014
Google68.69%
Baidu17.17%
Yahoo!6.74%
Bing 6.22%
Excite0.22%
Ask0.13%
AOL0.13%



For a brief history of search engines, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_search_engine

Activity: Working in groups of 2 or 3, look at Google and Yahoo and discuss the differences between the two search engines.
Make a list of at least 4 differences and be prepared to share with the rest of the class.
Time alloted: 5 minutes
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