In the most recent episode of our language-learning coaching course, we looked at using iTunes to access authentic materials for language learners. Hopefully over the past week you’ve been discovering all sorts of interesting materials created for native speakers – don’t forget you can share this in the comments area for last week’s episode. This week we’ll take things a step further and look at how localised websites including YouTube and Google can help you with your language learning. This content is available to members of the Radio Lingua Club only. Find out more how you can become a member and access our regular learning tips and discount codes.
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Last week we looked at how changing the regional settings on iTunes opened up a new world of content for language learners, and we hope that since then you’ve found lots of useful materials. Please let the other club members know if you’ve found some useful podcasts by posting a comment on last week’s blog post: as the weeks go on and more club members access week 6 in our course, hopefully the comments area for last week will become something of a place to go to find useful podcasts aimed at native speakers.
Just before we get onto today’s content, I’d like to mention one thing which should help you share your ideas you picked up from last week’s lesson. It’s not immediately obvious how to share a link from iTunes. Let’s imagine you’ve found a really useful podcast in iTunes: you need to right-click on the square podcast image and select “copy link”. You can do this with any content in iTunes, and even if you’re not logged into the particular country involved other learners should still be able to access that content by clicking on the link. So, once you’ve found some useful podcasts in iTunes France or Spain or Mexico or wherever, why not copy and paste these new links into the comments area of last week’s lesson and share your finds with other listeners.
OK, so what is our tip for this week? Well, we’re going to be having a look at a website which is probably very well known to you and applying the same procedures we used with iTunes in order to access some content which otherwise would be pretty hard to find. I’m talking about Google – a website which is so much a part of everyone’s life that it’s more common to use the word “Google” as a verb these days! Of course, we could spend all day googling “French lessons” or “Spanish verbs”, and we will be looking at some tips for googling in future episodes. However, today we’re going to see what the international versions of Google can offer us as language learners.
If you’re a native English speaker, the chances are that you spend most of your time on www.google.com, or www.google.co.uk, but as I’m sure you’re aware there are different domains for every country in the world, and many major companies have regional versions of their websites for various countries. We’re going to start, therefore, by going to the Google homepage, but not the one we know: instead we’ll go firstly to www.google.fr. To begin we can see the main Google search areas: web, images, vidéos, maps, actualités, livres, and so on. We can look – rechercher – on the entire web, or only on the pages francophones. We can also limit our search to pages specifically relating to France. Of course, if we go to www.google.ca then we have the option of clicking on google.ca en français. Equally, we can start our search on the Spanish version of Google: www.google.es and we’ll see links for imágenes, vídeos, maps, noticias, libros and so on. It’s interesting that ‘maps’ remains ‘maps’ in French and Spanish when this word isn’t in common use in either language. Personally I think it’s because Google Maps is seen by the company almost as a trademark. Needless to say, we can also look at www.google.com.mx for the Mexican homepage, or indeed www.google.com.ar for the homepage for users from Argentina, and so on.
Once you’re in the national version of Google of your choice, try a simple search for one word relating to a topic that interests you. Let’s try searching for música in a Spanish language Google. For this example I’m using the Argentinian version: here’s the result link. If you can, and even if you’re not learning Spanish, have a look at this link. The first link points to www.musica.com, a site where podrás encontrar letras de canciones, vídeos de música, wallpapers (another well-known Spanish word!) de música, foros de música and so on. At the time of writing the next entry on the list of results was the Wikipedia entry for the word música where we can access a definition of the word in Spanish. Given that we’re on the Argentinian version of Google, it’s not surprising that a further link is provided, giving us access to the Wikipedia entry for música de Argentina. If we look further down the list we can see a link from terra.com, one of the major online Spanish language content providers. By clicking on the terra.com link we are taken to the music pages of Terra, a massive source of content for the Spanish-speaking world, much of which focuses on Hispanic culture, and in this case, Hispanic or Latino music. Depending on your level of confidence with the language, you may find lots of useful information on the links you click on from the search engine results. However, if you’re just starting out with the language, the results themselves will provide a useful source of vocabulary reinforcement. For example, from the original search results you can immediately see the Spanish words for “video”, “artists”, “forums”, “lyrics”, and with a little dictionary work you can access a range of new vocabulary items.
If we do the same thing in French, but this time search for cinéma, we get another page full of results. The biggest cinema site in the French-speaking world, AlloCiné, is the top link (at least at the time of writing!) and by clicking on www.allocine.fr we can access a range of vocabulary items including salles de cinéma, the actual cinema listings, sorties de la semaine, the new releases, etc. Further down the results page there are links to the French Wikipedia entry for cinema, and the French Yahoo movies pages. Further investigation and clicking through the links will give us access to huge amounts of content on the topic of our choice.
As usual, we’re just scraping the surface, but the key is accessing the local version of a website, in this case Google. You may want to try looking up www.disney.fr or www.cocacola.es – indeed most major companies or organisations will have international versions of their websites. Don’t forget to share your discoveries by posting a link in the comments!
That’s all for this week. There’s so much more to say about Google, not least about the Google language tools, but they definitely deserve an episode of their own!
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