Sortfix is an intriguing new search engine. I think it might be useful to English Language Learners, especially those who are more advanced. However, I can’t quite figure out if it might just be too complicated.
It will show you the search results using Google, Yahoo or DMOZ. Then, in addition to showing all the results, it will also have four boxes on the top labeled Power Words, Add To Search, Remove, and Dictionary.
It has a good video on its home page to explain how it works, but let me briefly give you an example.
I typed in “gladiator” as my search term. When I pressed “enter” 238,000 results came up. The Power Words box included a number of common words that were also included in many of those search results. I proceeded to “drag” a number of them, like Hulk Hogan, American Gladiator, Las Vegas, costume, etc to the Remove box.
I then “dragged” the word “Roman” to the Add To Search box. If I didn’t know what a word meant, I would drag it to the Dictionary box and it would show me its definition.
After a minute or two of refining my search this way, I got down to about 20,000 results, and could have continued to refine my search by “dragging” a continuously updating list of words from the Power Words box.
In addition to teaching all students, and not just English Language Learners, about how to get better search results, it could also help students learn what different words mean in the context of performing an authentic research task.