The World Wide Web has often been considered too vast to be consulted for linguistic purposes or for language learning. This paper will explore whether second language learners can be taught how to navigate the web (i.e., how to perform Google linguistic research, or “Googleology”), in order to improve their language skills. To this aim, a 2 h trial lesson was organized. The trial lesson was delivered to 78 apprentices, divided into groups of 10–15, over a period of six months. During the lesson, the participants were taught how to work with Google Advanced Search syntax. At the end of the lesson, they applied the newly-acquired skills by completing a few tasks concerning term and/or collocational search. The paper findings will highlight that, despite initial hesitation or inaccuracies in completing the exercises, the tasks were performed well. The participants considered the lesson interesting, useful and enjoyable. They felt engaged irrespective of the level of their second language (L2) knowledge, and were more confident in approaching Google Search for linguistic purposes.
Appendix 1: The form.
|TASK = what you must find||QUERY = Google syntax||RESULTS = transcribe some phrases from Google|
|1. How can you say “parlare con qualcuno”?|
|2. How can you translate “alla fine decidemmo”?|
|3. Complete the following phrase: “I’ve known him ___ 2010”|
|4. Complete the following phrase: “I’ve known him ___ 10 years”|
|5. How can you say “fare il bucato”?|
|6. Find the differences between “below” and “under”|
|7. Is “accommodation” or “acomodation” correct?|
Appendix 2: Responses from the participants.
|TASK: write the relevant Google search string which will allow you to obtain what is indicated in each question.||QUERY: the search syntax you wrote on Google search string.||RESULTS: what you found or obtained (transcribe a few sentences or strings).|
|1. How can you say “parlare con qualcuno”?||–“to talk * someone”||–to talk to someone|
|–“speak * someone”||–talk with someone|
|–“talk * someone”||–speak for someone|
|–talk * someone||–speak to someone|
|–speak * someone||–speak with someone|
|–“talk * someone” site:.uk||–talk to everyone|
|–“talk to someone vs talk with someone”|
|–“talk * everyone”|
|2. How can you translate “alla fine decidemmo”?||–“* the end decided”||–in the end we decided|
|–“* end we decided”|
|–“end * decided”|
|–“* end * decided”|
|–“* end we decided” site:.uk|
|–* end decided|
|–“end we decided”|
|3. Complete the following phrase: “I’ve known him ___ 2010”||–“I’ve known * 2010”||–I’ve known him/her/(noun) since 2010|
|–“I’ve known him * 2010”|
|4. Complete the following phrase: “I’ve known him ___ 10 years”||–“I’ve known * 10 years”||–I’ve known him/her/(noun) for 10 years|
|–“I’ve known him * 10 years”|
|5. How can you say “fare il bucato”?||–“to * laundry”||–to laundry|
|–“I * the laundry”||–to do laundry|
|–“* laundry” (xxx)||–to do the laundry|
|–* laundry (x)||–I do the laundry|
|–* the laundry||–I do laundry|
|–“I * laundry”|
|6. Find the differences between “below” and “under”||–below vs under||–“under” is preferred when something is covered by what is over it; “below” refers to the idea of “lower or less than”.|
|–below vs under site:.uk||–“below” is preferred when one thing is not directly under another; “under” is preferred when something is covered by what is over it.|
|7. Is “accommodation” or “acomodation” correct?||–accommodation/acomodation||–accommodation (more frequent)|
|–“accommodation/acomodation”||–acomodation is corrected automatically|
|–define: accommodation define: acomodation||–Google message “forse cercavi ‘accommodation’” [back-translated: did you mean ‘accommodation’]|
|–accommodation vs acomodation|
|–“accommodation or acomodation”|
Appendix 3: The questionnaire.
Mark the trial lesson from 1 (minimum) to 5 (maximum):
Why did you give that mark?
What would you change in the trial lesson?
Did you level of English knowledge allow you to participate?
Do you feel your confidence in Google search has increased?
Do you think you learnt something? If yes, what?
Will you use the newly-acquired skills?
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