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The use of dictionaries in language learning in high school

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 6 (1291 words)
Categories: Education, High school, Language, Language Acquisition, Language learning, Learning, School
Downloads: 35
Views: 238

Why should we encourage trainees to utilize dictionaries? Dictionaries establish learner autonomy. They are a helpful resource for looking into various significances, junctions, examples of usage and basic pronunciation. If students understand how to use them successfully, there are numerous hours of self-guided research study to be had with a great dictionary. The best method to match a dictionary investment is strong study abilities. As teachers we play a crucial function in developing those abilities, and this short article will explore ways that we can do that.

Knowledgeable about the potential insufficiencies of their items qua discovering tools, modem lexicographers and dictionary publishers alike have considered lots of methods to make referral books more accessible, transparent and easy to comprehend than those in the past. For instance, they put in a comprehensive intro to explain what the dictionary offers and how to look up words in it.

Sometimes, they produce different dictionary workbooks created to teach users to utilize the dictionary through different types of workouts, typically graded, and which can be adapted for classroom mentor; in addition, audio-tapes might accompany the dictionary to teach users the sound signs.

The underlying assumption behind all these efforts is that users will have the ability to take the effort and be ready to make the effort to experiment with the activities. Lots of teachers will agree that this assumption is in some way positive. Both lexicographers and publishers have over-estimated the knowledge, capability and the level of persistence trainees would need in order to teach themselves how to use a dictionary.

This is not to deny that trainees must not find out how to use dictionaries; instead, the current research proposes. In addition, most instructors do not realize that utilizing the ideal type of dictionary for their trainees makes a substantial effect on English finding out. We will describe the various kinds of dictionaries, such as the distinction between an ESL dictionary and a bilingual dictionary, and go over which student will benefit most from each kind. Making use of dictionaries sometimes called using a dictionary for encoding that is turning ideas into the language.

Some writers suggest using a combination of bilingual and monolingual dictionaries for this purpose in order to get the best value form both types (Scholfield, 1982a; Stein, 1988). Describes a similar strategy for the correction of errors in written work. Few people would deny that dictionaries are an effective aid in the language learning progress. Much will depend, however, on the kind of dictionary and how and why it is used. Traditionally, language learners have had recourse to bilingual dictionaries, enabling them to find the mother tongue translation of new words and to find the foreign language equivalent of terms in their native language.

In the early years of the Communicative Approach, some methodologists argued against the use of bilingual dictionaries, maintaining that they did more harm than good, mainly by focusing the learner on his or her mother tongue, but also by leading the user to potentially incorrect equivalents. Certainly, there is some merit in the latter argument. Smaller bilingual dictionaries have a tendency to give translations for all the meanings of a particular word, without giving contextualized examples. They may also imply that words are synonymous when there are nuances in meaning and possible restricted use in collocations. This can lead to confusion and potential errors.

This argument does not, however, take account of the common-sense of the learner. Most learners would be able to work out from the context of the piece of language they are looking at that the English word “issue” refers to an edition of a newspaper or magazine rather than to someone’s children. It is, however, not uncommon for some teachers to forbid the use of bilingual dictionaries in class simply because they believed monolingual dictionaries to be more beneficial to the learner. Monolingual dictionaries specifically aimed at learners of English were comparatively rare until the last twenty years of the 20th century, when a wide range of these dictionaries began to appear.

Most of these are an excellent learning tool, giving clear definitions and contextualized examples of how items of language are used. Some dictionaries, the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners, for example, also highlight the frequency and usefulness of particular items of vocabulary as well as words which commonly collocate with these items. The use of the dictionary itself also involves a number of learning strategies from basic reference skills (alphabetical order as the most basic) to advanced reading skills. Indeed, learner training and encouraging the habit of using a monolingual dictionary would seem to be an essential component of current classroom practice.

Learner training can focus on a number of aspects, from interpreting symbols and understanding abbreviations (e.g. adj., adv.), understanding phonemic transcriptions and stress marks, to quickly finding a specific meaning of an item of vocabulary. From the learner’s point of view, this may present some difficulties at first. Using a monolingual dictionary requires more effort and commitment than using a bilingual one but, once the practice has become established, it offers substantial rewards. Every time the learner looks up a word, he or she is getting further reading practice in English, seeing words in context, seeing authentic examples of how words are actually used.

From the teacher’s point of view, the most important aspect would seem to be to encourage the use of monolingual dictionaries, perhaps by taking a set into the classroom, getting learners to use them as a matter of course and thereby to become more independent in their language learning, and, finally, to buy a good monolingual dictionary and use it both in class and at home.

This is not to say that bilingual dictionaries should not be used. Better examples of these also contain contextualized examples of the use of items of vocabulary, clear definitions and examples of differences in meaning, as well as phonemic transcriptions as a guide to pronunciation. They also offer the possibility to compare how different concepts are expressed in the mother tongue and the target language. The effective language learner will probably make full use of both types of dictionary.

As a conclusion if we return to the central issue of whether dictionaries should be used in vocabulary learning, then it is apparent that, while the findings of research in reading and discourse analysis show the importance of context, establishment of topic and theme and so on in deducing the meaning of unfamiliar words, this should perhaps be seen as an aid to comprehension of the particular passage being worked on and as the basis for preliminary comprehension.

In the specialized ELT dictionary, the student and non-native teacher have a powerful tool at their disposal, not always a perfect tool, but nonetheless a useful one, with which to gain further understanding of the range of use of new language, leading eventually to accurate production, mainly in writing. Although the dictionary can put the student in charge, teachers often do no train their students in how to use the dictionary to best advantage.

As a dictionary- markers, new awareness of the importance of vocabulary in language learning will go hand in hand with greater appreciation of the dictionary’s potential and that dictionary training will become an interesting and valuable new addition to the students’ timetable.


Carter Ronald & Mc Carthy Michael (1998) “Vocabulary and Language Teaching” Produced by Longman Singapore Publishers. Printed in Singapore, 1998. Pages from 110 to119

H. Long Michael & C. Richards Jack (2001) “Learning vocabulary in Another Language” Printed in the United Kingdom at University Press, Cambridge, 2001. Pages from 281 to 296

Harmer Jeremy (2012) “Teacher Knowledge Core Concepts in English Language Teaching” Printed in China, 2012
Pages from 182 to183

http://educatorspodium.com/presentation/using-english-dictionary-esl-classroom http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/blogs/pete-sharma/using-dictionaries-classroom

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The use of dictionaries in language learning in high school. (2016, Apr 30). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-use-of-dictionaries-in-language-learning-in-high-school-essay

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