In December, Internet giant Google launched a new function that allows users to sort the results of web searches by reading level. In other words, if you are looking for appropriate level reading materials for your class, you can search specifically for websites that are written in basic, intermediate, or advanced English.
To use this function:
- Go to www.google.com and click on ‘Advanced Search’
- Enter your search term at the top
- Choose the level you want from the ‘Reading level’ drop-down menu (basic, intermediate or advanced)
- Click the ‘Advanced Search’ button
You can also choose ‘Annotate results with reading levels’ from the drop-down menu: this will show you all search results, but will indicate the reading level of each site (or at least most sites).
Google developed this function with the assistance of teachers, who divided a number of webpages into various levels. Google then used these classifications to build a statistical model, which they can use to analyse words on any website to determine its level.
Google’s new development builds on ground already laid by Wikipedia. In 2004 the popular online encyclopedia introduced a separate site – Simple English Wikipedia – that today boasts over 66,000 entries, all written in simplified language.
Have some interesting ESL news you’d like to share? Email it to email@example.com.