Dictionary use has always played central role in learning languages. However, today dictionary use is not so much promulgated. Instead, more and more students are encouraged to guess unknown words in the context rather than translating words into their native language. Haynes (1982) conducted research on contextual guessing and found that students could guess less than half of unfamiliar words in the text, consequently students could understand very little from the text. Moreover, Walz states that “… guessing depends on student’s knowing enough of the other words in the sentence to create a context” (1990, p.80). Thus, it seems that dictionary use is still actual and crucial in learning languages.
Since almost every student has a smartphone and not every student has a dictionary book, so Oxford dictionary app is for help. Teachers of English language can encourage their students to download this app and use it in the classroom. This online dictionary provides:
- more than 3000 most important words in English
- highlights academic words
- correct pronunciation
- synonyms and antonyms
- pictures related to the word
Personally I would be interested in using it. However, there is a threat that students could be distracted by overuse of this dictionary from the main focus of the lesson. Moreover, since the access to the app requires Internet connection, students can easily search in social networks. Therefore, for those who are interested in implementing, I would suggest to think of how this app could be utilized so that it may bring much benefit without distraction. For instance, teachers may ask their students to change their phones with each other so that students will utilize the phone for translation purposes. What do you think of it? What are other ways you can suggest to use innovative technologies in the classroom without much distraction from them?
Haynes, Margot. “Patterns and Perils of Guessing in Second Language Reading.” On TESOL ’83: The Question of Control. Ed. Jean Handscombe, Richard A. Orem, and Barry P. Taylor. Washington, DC: TESOL, 1984, 163-76.
Walz, J. (1990). The dictionary as a secondary source in language learning. The French Review, 64(1), 79-94.