Love it or hate it Wikipedia is a big part of our lives and its certainly a big part of our online browsing experience. Whether we admit to it or not many people consult Wikipedia on a regular basis to answer their questions. A large part of this is due to the fact that Google loves Wikipedia more than any other site on the Internet. In fact it gets presented as the top search result to more search queries than anything else, even Google itself.
Anyway, one of the challenges for educators using Wikipedia is trying to get students to use it appropriately and really to understand what it is and what it can do.
This series of posts should give you a few ideas.
7 things you didn’t know about Wikipedia (4 of 7) – It is available in lots of languages
When Wikipedia was founded back in 2001 it was an on-line encyclopedia published in the English language. But after a couple of month’s different language versions (starting with German) started to appear.
‘Gold’ is the most translated article across all of the different version of Wikipedia – an interesting fact in itself and definitely worth challenging your students as to why they think an article on gold is so popular globally.
In Scotland, Gàidhlig educators should defiantly be making more use of the 17, 000 articles contained within the Gàidhlig version of Wikipedia. At a time when across the country Gàidhlig teachers say they do not have enough materials – surely Wikipeda could have a role. The same could be said for the Scots version.
One other language version of Wikipedia that people often don’t know about is the ‘Simple English’ version of Wikipedia (www.simple.wikipedia.org). It is a great resource for primary schools and also for children who (for whatever reason) struggle with English language.
You can also use the different language versions of Wikipedia with young people who speak English as a second language. Simply ask them to start translating your local pages (eg: for your school or town) into their first language on their county version of Wikipedia.
Key Message: Educators should encourage students to explore Wikipedia in different languages and also consider how different language version of Wikpedia could be used to help develop language learning.