Digital Literacy - Using Search Engines
In this episode of the Premier Skills English Podcast, Rowan helps Jack find a birthday present for his son. The focus of the podcast is digital literacy and how to use search engines effectively. The language focus is vocabulary related to using search engines.
Jack: Hello. My name’s Jack.
Rowan: And I’m Rowan.
Jack: Welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast.
Rowan: In the Premier Skills English podcast, we talk about football and help you with your English.
Jack: Today we're looking at digital literacy again.
Rowan: That’s right. We’re making another digital literacy podcast. The topic of today’s podcast is using search engines effectively.
Jack: For lots of people, this might seem obvious, but knowing how to find information online is an important part of digital literacy. My dad always asks me for technical help with his computer and thinks I know loads about computers ... but I don’t really. I just know how to search for the ways to solve his problems.
Rowan: There is so much information out there that knowing how to search effectively is an important digital literacy skill. In the roleplay today, we look at three techniques you can use to improve your web searches and of course, we talk about the useful language.
But before we get to the roleplay and today’s topic, let's look back at last week's football phrase.
Last week’s football phrase
Jack: Every week we challenge you, our listeners, to work out our football phrase.
Rowan: We explain a word or phrase and you have to guess what it is. If you can work it out, write the word or phrase in the comments section.
Jack: We’re going to give you one more chance to guess now and then we’ll tell you the answer.
Rowan: Last week’s football phrase was *******. This is an action on the pitch. It means to move the ball along the ground with repeated gentle kicks and to walk or run behind the ball so that the ball is always close to your feet and under control. Adama Traoré was the best ******** in the Premier League last season with 234 successful ********.
Jack: This phrase was quite easy, but I was a bit late publishing the podcast page on the Premier Skills English website so there aren’t so many correct answers today. Well done to Mon from Egypt, Emmanuel from France, HSN from Turkey and Wilson from Colombia.
Rowan: The correct answer to last week’s incredibly easy football phrase was dribble. We’ll have a new and slightly more difficult football phrase for you to guess at the end of the podcast.
Jack: Now it’s time for this week’s roleplay. This week, we are in a cafe and I’m asking Rowan for some help finding a birthday present for my son.
Rowan: While you listen, try to answer this question: What does Jack end up buying for his son’s birthday?
Jack: Hi Rowan
Rowan: Hi Jack. How’s it going?
Jack: Not bad, thanks. Better now that you’re here.
Rowan: Oh yes?
Jack: I need your help.
Rowan: Have you broken your phone again?
Jack: No. It’s not that. It’s my son’s birthday soon and I need some help finding a gift and some stuff for his party.
Rowan: Cool - He’s going to be 8 this year, right?
Jack: That’s right. Let me get my laptop out. Here we go. So I want to get him some lego. He loves the Lord of the Rings, but I’m having problems finding anything.
Rowan: So you’re looking for a Lord of the Rings lego set?
Jack: Yes or something like that. But I’m having problems.
Rowan: OK - well open up google and let’s see what we find.
Jack: OK - erm ... Lord of the Rings lego - enter. ... Wow! That’s a lot of results.
Rowan: Yeah - you need to narrow things down a bit. You’ve got pictures and videos and all sorts. Can you see at the top, there are tabs?
Jack: Yes ...?
Rowan: Click on the shopping tab. That’s better. Now you’re only getting results that are things for sale.
Jack: I’ve never used the shopping tab before. I’ve used the images tab to search for pictures. Hmmmm ... there’s still a lot here. Look! That’s a ring you wear on your finger.
Rowan: OK. Try putting Lord of the Rings in quotation marks.
Jack: What does that do?
Rowan: It searches for the exact phrase so you won’t have results just for rings or ... lords.
Jack: I see ... that’s a lot better.
Rowan: Some of these look OK.
Jack: Yeah. He’d really love one of these sets, but look at the prices.
Rowan: They are pretty expensive. You could try searching for special offers.
Jack: How do I do that?
Rowan: I would just add the term offer or reduced. Try reduced first and see what that does.
Jack: That’s better. That’s much more like it. It looks like there’s a sale on in Games Store. And there’s a Game Store shop just down the road where I could click and collect from.
Rowan: Ah - well in that case, try adding site ... colon .. gamestore.com
Jack: What does that do?
Rowan: That limits the results just to the site after the colon. I use this all the time to search for recipes on BBC good food.
Jack: That’s a good tip. I like searching for recipes online, but I always get results from American sites and they measure everything differently.
Jack: Well look at that. Lord of the Rings - The Battle of Helms Deep. He’s going to love that. It’s a really good deal.
Rowan: When can you collect it?
Jack: Let’s see. Erm ... location. If put my postcode in here ... ooh - they have 2 in stock. I can collect it in an hour.
Rowan: Perfect. That gives us time to go and get a coffee.
Rowan: The topic of today’s podcast is google-fu.
Jack: I’m sorry ... What on earth is google-fu? That’s not a real thing.
Rowan: Yeah; it’s not a real word. Though I have heard it used online. I don’t think it’s in the dictionary.
Jack: What does it mean?
Rowan: It’s like kungfu - it means a person’s skill at using google or another search engine to find information.
Jack: I see - so you have really good google-fu.
Rowan: Why, thank you.
Jack: So today we’re talking about how you can use search engines effectively.
Rowan: Search engine is a strange word. Normally we use the word engine to talk about the motor in a car. Most of the time the word engine means a machine that produces movement.
Jack: However, you can use the word to describe computer programs that complete a task. So google, duck duck go and bing are examples of search engines. Google is the most popular search engine.
Rowan: It’s actually a verb. To google - you can find it in the dictionary. It means to search for something on google. I reckon one day, people will use the verb google to search on other engines too.
Jack: And we’re looking at ways that you can google effectively. I think these tips will work in other search engines too, though.
Rowan: We’re going to talk about three ways that you can improve your googling or your google-fu.
Jack: These were all suggestions that Rowan made in the role-play. They are ways to narrow down your search results.
Rowan: OK - there are two useful bits of language there. Search results and to narrow down.
Jack: Search results is quite easy to understand. When you perform a search on a search engine, the search results are all the links that the search engine finds for you.
Rowan: However, there are so many web pages out there that a simple search can produce millions of results. And that’s when you need the phrasal verb to narrow down. This is quite an advanced phrasal verb.
Jack: To narrow down means to reduce the number of a list of things by removing items you don’t want. So a detective searching for a criminal might have a very long list of suspects and they will try to narrow the list down by ruling out suspects with alibis.
Rowan: You can narrow down your search results by adding filters. A filter is normally a thing you use to remove dirt from water. I used to have a special water filter when I lived in Canterbury because the water is very chalky in Kent.
Jack: There’s one more word from the roleplay that we should describe before. Listen to this:
Rowan: I would just add the term offer or reduced. Try reduced first and see what that does.
Jack: Rowan used the word term. This normally means a word but sometimes it can mean a phrase. You can use the word term in regular english, for example the phrase term of endearment means a word or phrase that you use to show someone that you like them.
Rowan: The word term is often used to talk about technical language or language related to a specific field. You often hear medical terms or legal terms that have a specific meaning in those areas.
Jack: So a search term is just a word or special phrase that you can use when you are using google. Let’s get back to google-fu.
Rowan: The three ways that you can improve your google-fu are basically ways to filter your results, to narrow down the list of suggestions that google or your search engine produces.
Jack: Tip number 1
Rowan: Use tabs. Tabs are normally small pieces of paper that stick out of a pile of papers so you can find the right place. I have some dividers with tabs that I use in my files. I can write on the tab so I know what the section is.
Jack: They have been used in website design in a similar way. Often on web pages, you find boxes for text or pictures with little labels that stick out the side or at the top. These are tabs.
Rowan: In search engines there are tabs at the top of the page. The first tab says “all” and that shows you all of the search results. Then there’s a tab for images. If you click on that, you will only see pictures. This can be useful if you are trying to find the meaning of a word in English.
Jack: There are also tabs for videos, which will display only videos related to your search terms ... and results for news which will only display results from news websites like the BBC or the Guardian.
Rowan: And there’s a tab for shopping which will show you all of the things that you can buy online that are related to your search terms.
Jack: Let’s move on to our next tip.
Rowan: Tip number 2
Jack: Use quotation marks.
Rowan: Quotation marks are the symbols that you put around words in a text that show that someone else said those words, that you are quoting the words. They are also called speech marks.
Jack: On a UK keyboard, you get them by pressing shift and the number 2, but they are in other places on other keyboards. When I lived abroad, they were next to the colon and semicolon key.
Rowan: When you put quotation marks around a phrase in a search engine, the search engine will search for that exact phrase.
Jack: I use this all the time. Sometimes, there are different ways to say something in English and if I’m making a podcast I want to be sure I’m presenting the most common ways. So for this podcast, I might want to compare “search term” with “search word”. When I compare these phrases by searching for them in quotation marks, I can see that “search term” returns 4 times as many results.
Rowan: In the role-play, Jack was searching for a Lord of the Rings lego set. However, if you just search for lord of the rings, google will ignore words like of and the so you might get results for lord and rings.
Jack: And that wasn’t what I was looking for. So Rowan told me to put the phrase in quotation marks and then I only got results that included the full phrase “Lord of the Rings”.
Rowan: This is a really useful tip. Lets move on to our final tip.
Jack: Tip number 3
Rowan: Search a specific site.
Jack: Sometimes, you want to get a result from one website. In the roleplay, Rowan spoke about searching for recipes from the BBC Good Food website.
Rowan: This is a really good website for recipes because everything is rated by users. If you want a good recipe for a cake, you can see how many stars a recipe gets.
Jack: And there are loads of other websites with recipes and some of them are not very good. In fact, there is a whole genre of food websites where none of the recipes are even real.
Rowan: So if you use a site filter, you can exclude all of those dodgy results from other sites.
Jack: You can use a site filter by typing the word site and then the name of the site. So if you wanted to search for something from the Premier League, you could type site colon premierleage.com and then all the results would come from the premier league website.
Rowan: Another very useful tip.
Rowan: Your task this week is to share your own tips and tricks that people can use to improve their google-fu.
Jack: Are you a search master? How often do you use a search engine?
Rowan: Let us know how good you are at searching online. Do you search in English or in your language?
Rowan: Last week, the football phrase was pretty easy. I hope you’ve chosen something a little harder this time.
Jack: Yes. I have. This week, I went to the Premier Vocabulary section on Premier Skills English and selected a medium word from there.
Rowan: OK. So this week’s football word is it another verb?
Jack: This week’s football phrase is a phrasal verb. The is to **** ***. This is what happens to a footballer when they get shown a red card. If a player gets two yellow cards or does something very very naughty, the referee will show them a red card and they will be **** ***.
Rowan: I think this one is even easier than last week.
Jack: It’s from the medium section, honest!
Rowan: If you know the answer to the football phrase, leave a comment on the page for this podcast on the Premier Skills English website. If you have a football phrase that you would like us to use in the podcast, just get in touch and let us know.
Jack: Before we finish we just wanted to say that we hope you found this podcast and the vocabulary useful and we hope all of you stay fit and healthy.
Rowan: Bye for now and enjoy your football.
Using Search Engines
In the roleplay, Rowan gave Jack some really useful advice for using search engines. After the roleplay, Rowan and Jack summarised the advice by giving three tips for using search engines.
Tip Number 1
Tabs are normally small pieces of paper that stick out of a pile of papers so you can find the right place. They have been used in website design in a similar way. Often on web pages, you find boxes for text or pictures with little labels that stick out the side or at the top. These are tabs.
In search engines there are tabs at the top of the page. The first tab says “all” and that shows you all of the search results. Then there’s a tab for images. If you click on that, you will only see pictures. This can be useful if you are trying to find the meaning of a word in English.
There are also tabs for videos, which will display only videos related to your search terms ... and results for news which will only display results from news websites like the BBC or the Guardian.
And there’s a tab for shopping which will show you all of the things that you can buy online that are related to your search terms.
Tip Number 2
Use quotation marks.
Quotation marks are these symbols: " ". Whey you put them "around words" in a text, it shows that someone else said those words, that you are quoting the words. They are also called speech marks.
On a UK keyboard, you get them by pressing shift and the number 2, but they are in other places on other keyboards.
When you put quotation marks around a phrase in a search engine, the search engine will search for that exact phrase.
In the role-play, Jack was searching for a Lord of the Rings lego set. However, if you just search for lord of the rings, search engines will ignore words like of and the so you might get results for lord and rings.
Tip Number 3
Search a specific site
Sometimes, you want to get a result from one website. In the roleplay, Rowan spoke about searching for recipes from the BBC Good Food website.
You can use a site filter by typing the word site and then add a colon - :, and then the name of the site. So if you wanted to search for something from the Premier League, you could type site:premierleage.com and then all the results would come from the Premier League website.
Using Search Engines
Drag the words from the roleplay into the correct gaps.
Are you a search master?
Your task this week is to share your own tips and tricks that people can use to improve their google-fu.
Are you a search master?
How often do you use a search engine?
Do you search in English or in your language?
Let us know how good you are at searching online.