Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Posts To Help Understand Google’s New “Books Ngram Viewer”


'Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism' photo (c) 2010, Quinn Dombrowski - license:

I’m still trying to “get my head around” how to use Google’s new “Books Ngram Viewer,” the amazing application announced yesterday that allows you to easily analyze “the 500 billion words contained in books published between 1500 and 2008 in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Russian.” I’m sure there are ways to use it effectively with students — English Language Learners and mainstream — but I just haven’t had a chance to think about how.

Please feel free to share ideas in the comments section.

In the meantime, though, I thought I’d start collecting posts and article that provide information about the service itself.

Here are my choices for The Best Posts To Help Understand Google’s New Books Ngram Viewer:

In 500 Billion Words, New Window on Culture is from The New York Times

New Visualization Tool from Google With Data From 5.2 Million Digitized Books is from Read Write Web

The cultural genome: Google Books reveals traces of fame, censorship and changing languages is from Discover

New Tool Tracks Culture Through the Centuries via Google Books is from Scientific American

Peter Pappas shares some good ideas on how to use it with students at his post, How To Quantify Culture? Explore 500 Billion Published Words

Word-Wide Web Launches is an interesting article and video from The Wall Street Journal

You can see great examples of the Ngram Viewer in action over at The Atlantic, which has created a slideshow of comparing the usage of a number of words over time.

Here are more examples: 10 Fascinating Word Graphs, From 200 Years of Google Books

Ngrams is a blog that shares different Ngrams that people contribute.

The Google Books Ngram Viewer is a very thoughtful article by Data Visualization.

What Google Knows About Men vs. Women is a fascinating visualization using data from Google’s Ngram Viewer. It’s an analysis of how the words “he” and “she” have been used over the past two hundred years. There’s a good explanation that goes with the visualization.

Here’s a video about the Ngram Viewer (Thanks to Richard Byrne for the tip):

Coincidentally, the same day I posted a very intriguing Google Ngram about teaching in my Education Week Teacher column, TED Talks released a video about the Google Ngram:

Cool New Word Visualization Tool!

Bigger, Better Google Ngrams: Brace Yourself for the Power of Grammar is from The Atlantic.

Google’s Ngram Viewer Goes Wild is from The Atlantic.

Feedback is welcome.

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You might also want to explore the nearly 600 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Can you search the text for specific words and phrases like you can with say a word document?

  2. Hi Larry,
    It figures you’d already be collecting ideas for Google’s “Books Ngram Viewer.” Here’s my contribution. I explore how to use the tool in the classroom to help students better understand the research method in my blog post – “How To Quantify Culture? Explore 500 Billion Published Words With Google’s Ngram Viewer”

  3. Just discovered this a bit late, but have gone back a number of times to play around with it. Amazing for language evolution.

  4. Pingback: Re-energized and ready to go! « applesforteachers

  5. Pingback: Google Books Ngram Viewer | Brian Pistone's Education Technology Blog

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