This lesson (activity) focuses on understanding students' approach to using a dictionary. Once you have understood how students use their dictionary, you can then make suggestions and plan lessons based on a deeper understanding of how your students approach vocabulary acquisition.
Aim: Understanding Students' Dictionary Use
Level: Intermediate and up
- Give survey. Make sure students understand that they should answer honestly and that this exercise is intended to help them improve their dictionary usage skills - NOT to see if they actually use a dictionary.
- Once students have answered the questions, ask students to gather in small groups for a discussion and comparison of their answers.
- After students have discussed their answers together, ask students to make a list of the three most confusing questions on the survey.
- Discuss the students answers in general, focus especially on the list of three confusing questions.
- Do you use a dictionary?
- Do you use a monolingual or bilingual dictionary, or both?
- In which setting do you use your dictionary? (i.e. while reading, in the classroom etc.)
- Do you look at all of the meanings of the word, the collocations etc. or do you just look at the first plausible meaning?
- Do you use the phonological information?
- If you use the phonological information, do you speak aloud and practice the pronunciation?
- Do you look at the contextual usage that the dictionary provides (if it indeed provides it)?
- How often do you use your dictionary?
- Do you keep notes of the information you retrieve from the dictionary?
- Do you ever just peruse the dictionary?
- Do you sometimes let yourself make connections to other words, phrases etc. by information found in the dictionary?
- Do you use any of the information found at the beginning and the end of the dictionary? (i.e. grammar reference materials, measurements etc.)
- If you have both a monolingual and bilingual dictionary, which do you prefer to use and in which situations?
- Do you think that you should look up every word that you don't know while reading?
- Can you understand the abbreviations and what the mean? Do they help your understanding?
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