I found http://bbs.english.sina.com/archiver/?tid-805.html using google to learn English.
For example:"on another hand" 107,000 results "on other hand" 415,000 results "on the other hand" 78,700,000 resultsThe majority rules..
I also found Jim Stroud at englishcafe.com explaining How to make Google your English Teacher
Unlike Jim Stroud suggests with learning English I have not found any useful functionality with the ~ character when learning Chinese at google.cn, however the * is very useful. Just remember to make sure you are in English mode with your input method, the Chinese ＊ is not the same as * and google will not see it as a character wild card. Basically if you put an asterix in your query then google will substitute any character for the asterix, seeing what comes out the other end can be very instructive.
Google also be used to search specific sites, which can be instructive, for micro-blogging for example you can restrict the search results to fanfou.com by adding site:fanfou.com to the front of the query.