I am going to be in Peru for the next few weeks and will not be posting as often on Spanish Playground. This seems like a good time to share some tips for finding for authentic language materials online. These suggestions are for Google searches, but you can apply them to other search engines as well. I know that many of you have more strategies for finding what you need – be sure to sure to share your tips in comments!
1. Use Spanish words in your search. Pay attention to Google’s suggestions as you type. They are based on the most commonly searched phrases and you may see terms that will help you narrow your search.
2. Search Images if you are not sure of your terms. In general, this a helpful strategy for resolving dudas, especially if you compare terms. You know how you use a word, but with an image search you can quickly get an idea of how the word is used to tag photos (the image search results for gorra and gorro for example). This works for abstract words too, because the results will show book titles or photographs that will let you know if you are on the right track.
3. Include general education vocabulary in Spanish in your searches. Add adjectives like infantil, didáctico and lúdico. General nouns like lectoescritura and dínamica are also useful. The word cloud above has some common terms you may want to try.
4. Do an Images search if you are looking for material to print. This is often much faster than searching individual sites. Just add para imprimir to your search terms and click Images. For example, you can scan the results of an image search for juegos didácticos para imprimir fairly quickly.
5. Search blogs. There are lots of teachers and parents all over the world with great blogs. In the tool bar beside the search box, you will find the More option. The drop down menu gives you the option to search only blogs.
6. Check the sidebars of blogs. Even if a site does not have a formal blogroll (the newest versions of WordPress do not even include one), many people link to friends, colleagues, and associations on their sidebars.
7. Use a Google domain restriction to return results from a specific country. To do this, use the site operator followed by the domain. For example to find children’s songs from Mexico, search canciones infantiles site:mx To find coloring pages from Spain, search dibujos para colorear site:es
8. Use operators to make your search more effective. Place words in quotes to return results with the exact phrase and use ~ in front of a term to include related terms. Use + in front of a term to include it and – (a minus sign) to exclude it. Use * to fill in a blank where * is the word you are missing. You can use the advanced search for any of these filters, but the operators are faster.
9. Clear your browsing data (cookies) if you are doing related searches and getting the same results. In an effort to be helpful, Google gives priority to pages you have clicked on before.
10. When you find what you need, always check the copyright information. Many teachers make and share materials, but there are also websites where entire books have been scanned, blatantly violating intellectual property laws.
You may also be interested in this post: Online Spanish Audio – 8 Free Websites to Keep Kids Listening to Spanish This Summer