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The Role of Dictionaries in Language Acquisition and Teaching

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Dictionaries play a key role in language acquisition and teaching as they enhance learners’ autonomy. In this regard, in order to avoid asking a teacher frequently, a dictionary which is chosen meticulously may well be a wise choice in struggling with lexical difficulties while learning a language. The possibility to address such problems instantly is generally viewed as the immense benefit of using dictionaries

Surveys indicate that when choosing their dictionaries, learners are likely to rely on the recommendations given by their teachers, who mostly offer monolingual English learners’ dictionaries. However, English teachers more often than not are mixed up with the actual advantages and shortcomings of the distinct types of dictionaries to be used. They mostly pushed learners to use monolingual dictionaries in the early time, and this was an endeavor to entirely omit their L1 from the learning process, a view which has seriously been questioned with good justifications.

In addition, based on Huang et al. (2013), a single lexicon may have numerous meanings, and the proper one can more often than not be established on the basis of context. Laufer (1990, as cited in Huang et al., 2013) asserts that a word in a sentence could look familiar to language learner, and they might be familiarized with word which comes in a sentence. Nevertheless; this meaning if coming in another sentence might look nonsense.

In addition, making guesses about the meaning of an unfamiliar word is not always reliable. Kaivanpanah and Alavi’s (2008, as cited in Huang et al., 2013) study shows that learners’ trying to infer the meaning of unknown vocabulary are not always successful. Therefore, proponents of using a dictionary suggest that teachers should persuade learners to choose a dictionary to look up the particular meaning of an unknown word in a text. In this sense, dictionaries are the essential requirement to access information related to words in a language (Walz, 1990, as cited in Huang et al., 2013).

Hayati and Fattahzadh also highlight the point that learners “consult a dictionary for the meaning of an unfamiliar word to make certain that their assumptions are accurate based on the contextual information”. A dictionary aids learners in becoming autonomous as they can find appropriate understanding of unknown words in sentences without reliance on teachers’ clarifications.

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The Role of Dictionaries in Language Acquisition and Teaching. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 29, 2022, from
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