Dictionary TrainingA dictionary can be a powerful tool for a student. It can empower students to tackle the english
language being less dependent on a teacher. Dictionaries are tools for discovering words’ spelling, definition, pronunciation, part of speech, and more. Including dictionary training into a course will teach students how to implement the dictionary into their language learning process.
Dictionary training with ESL students may best be taught continually over the period of a course. ESL students will likely work with a bilingual dictionary as well as a monolingual english
dictionary. Therefore, teaching the mechanics of dictionary use could be done with the bilingual and monolingual dictionary. However, there should be a greater purpose behind teaching the way to use a dictionary. Ultimately, that purpose is to empower students to better take hold of the english
With that idea in mind, dictionary training shouldn’t lead to dictionary dependence. Students should learn to read english
allowing some unknown words to go by. If an unknown word causes the meaning of a sentence to breakdown, then a student should reason its meaning before resorting to a dictionary. A student should first identify the part of speech of an unknown word and then look at its surrounding context to make an educated guess at its meaning. To check the guess, plug it in place of the unknown word. By discovering a word’s meaning through its context the student will root a new vocabulary word deeper into his/her memory.
At other times dictionaries will be very useful and necessary. There are many aspects of a dictionary which must be taught to students. Teaching students to use a bilingual dictionary may be simpler than an english
In both the bilingual and english
dictionary, students will need to be familiarized with finding and understanding entries. Therefore, activities which will train students to find words and activities which will train students to understand entries are important. To find words, students may race one another to an entry, using the header words at the tops of the pages to locate the desired entry. The entry itself will need to be tackled in another activity. A good activity would be to enlarge one entry on a photocopier and draw arrows to the individual parts. Then students can label the individual parts.
Further training can be done with an english
dictionary. In english
, there are many words with more than one sense, or meaning. Students can be given multiple sentences which each use the same word in a different sense. By reasoning the meaning from context and using their dictionary, students will familiarize themselves with words having multiple senses. Secondly, students will inevitably face the issue of trying to find a word which is inflected or has a suffix. In the class, students can be taught the various affixes and try searching for some irregular words to find their location in the dictionary. For example, students could search for faithful and unfaithful, flammable and inflammable, discovering if they should look under the first letter of the prefix or the base word.
To encapsulate the new vocabulary discovered through dictionary use, students could create a word bank. Using index cards, students write a word, its pronunciation, and definition. These can be collected in a case and reviewed and added to throughout the course.