It’s time for the annual update of my “The Best…” search engines list.
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Obviously, from the title of the list you can determine that the prime criteria I use is the search engine’s accessibility to English Language Learners. I believe this kind of accessibility also makes these applications very useful for students of all ages and language proficiencies.
Many of the sites in the top half of the list also appeared in last year’s ranking, and they all have made improvements over the past year. Several new web tools have joined for the first time.
Here are my choices for The Best Search Engines For ESL/EFL Learners:
The Carrot search engine returns search results divided into themes. For example, I typed in “Roman Gladiator” and, in addition to getting a list of typical results from a search engine, I saw a listed of thematic categories. These included “Ancient Rome,” “Movie Gladiator,” and “Collectible Swords.” These themes, I think, will be helpful to English Language Learners as they try to get through all the “clutter” of search engine results.
Quintura provides search results in a visual “cloud.” I’d characterize it as similar to the present version of Kartoo, the well-known search engine, but much less confusing.
Boolify is a search engine designed for elementary and middle school students that is accessible to English Language Learners. I think there are others that are more accessible, but this is a good one to help teach basic search strategies.
Mel Zoo has some nice features. After you type in your query at Mel Zoo, you see what appears to be — more or less — the typical kind of text results you’d find in other search engines. The key advantage the engine has — for both ELL’s and others — is that as you move the cursor down the text listing on the left side, the website itself is shown on the right side. This capability makes it very accessible to English Language Learners.
Google has unveiled a new feature in its search engine — the ability to see images of the site search results without having to go to the sites themselves.
Askives is a new search engine that utilizes many of the question/answer sites that abound on the Web. Like another similar site, Kngine, though, it appears to be able to separate the good answers from the many useless and inaccurate ones that are out there.
Jawoco is a new search engine that could be useful for ELL’s. After you make a query, in addition to the text links, it automatically shows a thumbnail image next to each item. It’s easier for ELL’s to see than in Google, where you have to scroll over each result in order to see a visual preview. Google’s preview is bigger than a thumbnail, of course, but if you scroll over a result in Jawoco, you can also get a much bigger preview. Of course, the bigger question is if this slight advantage is going to enable Jawoco to make it over the long-term….
2Lingual is a bilingual search engine. You type in your search term and then choose two languages. Search results will show-up side-by-side in both languages. It could come in very handy for English Language Learners in content classes, as well as for their teachers who might be looking for materials in a second language that they could offer to their students for extra support. I was quite pleased with the searches I did, though I wish they had separate “tabs” for videos. They provide bilingual searches for Google and for Bing, plus a voice search capability.
Oolone is a new search engine that shows you large images of search results instead of text.
Feedback, as always, is welcome.