Home ENGLISH LANGUAGE ENGLISH LANG FORM 1 TOPIC 3: USING A DICTIONARY | ENGLISH FORM 1

TOPIC 3: USING A DICTIONARY | ENGLISH FORM 1

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TOPIC 16: WRITING A VARIETY OF TEXTS | ENGLISH FORM 1

Topic 3: USING A DICTIONARY | ENGLISH FORM 1

Dictionary

It is a kind of a book or reference that containing words of a language, arranged alphabetically and showing class and uses. We often use a dictionary to look up a word.

We do this when we do not know what the word means. Dictionaries are organised to help us look up word easily

Topic 3: USING A DICTIONARY | ENGLISH FORM 1

How to use a dictionary effectively

Reasons for using a dictionary

A dictionary is a very important tool for anyone who is learning a new language. With a good dictionary you can do the following:

1. look up the meaning of an English word you see or hear

2. find the English translation of a word in your language

3. check the spelling of a word

4. check the plural of a noun or past tense of a verb

5. find out other grammatical information about a word

6. find the synonym or antonym of a word

7. look up the collocations of a word

8. check the part of speech of a word

9. find out how to say a word

10. find out about the register of a word

11. find examples of the use of a word in natural language

To be a good dictionary user, however, it is not enough to know what to use the dictionary for. You must also decide which is the best dictionary for any of the purposes listed above.

As well as this, you need to be able to find what you are looking for quickly; you need to be sure that you have found what you were looking for; and, most importantly, you need to know when to use your dictionary.

Topic 3: USING A DICTIONARY | ENGLISH FORM 1

Knowing which dictionary to use

Electronic dictionaries are the best choice for ESL students. Most of them contain native-language equivalents and explanations, as well as definitions and example sentences in English.

They can speak the English word to you, and they are easy to carry around. However, they are expensive and easy to lose, so put your name on yours!

A cheaper possibility, if you are going to work at the computer, is to use an online dictionary. A very good one for ESL students is the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.

Alternatively, if you open Google and type, for example, define: superstitious, you will get a long list of different definitions of superstitious.

A good monolingual dictionary is recommended for students who already have a high standard of English and want to learn about word use.

Topic 3: USING A DICTIONARY | ENGLISH FORM 1

Finding words quickly

This is a skill that you need to practise. Ask someone to write down 5 words and see how long it takes you to find them. Of course, you will need to know the English alphabet perfectly, so practise this too.

Use the guide words at the top of each dictionary page; and keep practising until you can find any word within 10 seconds. You should also practise finding words in your own language in your bilingual dictionary.

If you use an electronic dictionary, take some time at home to learn how it works and, again, practise finding words quickly.

Finding the right meaning of an English word

Very often when you look up a new English word, you find that it has more than one meaning. If you are not sure which one is correct, here’s what you can do:

First, check through all the meanings and find the one that makes most sense in the context where you found the word. (Very often, many of the different meanings are similar and this should be enough to give you a good idea what the word means.)

Second, if you really want to make sure, think what the word is in your own language and look it up in a bilingual dictionary. If one of the English translations is the original word you looked up, then you can be satisfied that you have found the right meaning.

Topic 3: USING A DICTIONARY | ENGLISH FORM 1

Finding the right spelling

Another problem you may have is when you want to check your spelling but you can’t find the word you’re looking for. What can you do?

If you are sure of the first few letters, just look down the page until you find the right spelling. (Again, it is helpful to check the meaning is the one you expect.)

If you are not sure of the first few letters, try some other possibilities. You know for example that some words that start with an -n sound have k as their first letter; e.g. knifeknight. So if you can’t find the word under N, try looking in the K pages.

If you still can’t find the word, think what it is in your language and look it up in your bilingual dictionary.

Topic 3: USING A DICTIONARY | ENGLISH FORM 1

Finding the right English translation of a word in your language

When you look up a word in your own language in a bilingual dictionary, you will probably find that there is more than one English translation.

If you are not sure which to use, you could try a back translation. This means that you look up the English translations one by one in a monolingual dictionary.

If a word has a definition that matches the word in your language, you are safe to use it.

Knowing when to use the dictionary

If you look up every new word you see or hear, you will spend your whole day with the dictionary in your hand.

That’s no good! You have to be clever and choose the right words to check and the right time to do it. Try to follow the advice below and you will become a much more efficient language learner:

When you find a new word while reading, finish the sentence (better: the paragraph). If you haven’t guessed the meaning and it still seems important, then you can look it up.

To avoid interrupting your reading for too long, you should find its meaning in your own language using a bilingual dictionary.

When you hear a new word in class (or the teacher has written it on the board), wait and continue listening. What the teacher says next may help you to understand the word.

If you look in your dictionary, you will not hear what comes next, and this will make understanding the lesson more and more difficult.

If you think the word is very important, you could copy it from the board or write how you think it is spelled. Then later you could ask the teacher or another student what it means.

Topic 3: USING A DICTIONARY | ENGLISH FORM 1

What information can be found in a dictionary?

Whatever type of dictionary you use, it is worthwhile spending some time with the user’s guide, i.e. the initial pages that explain what kind of information is provided in the dictionary, the layout of the entries, and often also a legend that explains what the symbols used in the dictionary mean.

In terms of what type of information is given in a typical entry, here is an example of what is normally found in a mono-lingual dictionary (here based on the structure in the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (LDOCE):

1. Spelling: the headword itself is given in its normal spelling, printed in bold. Headwords are arranged alphabetically in a dictionary.

2. Frequency information: symbols indicating how frequent the word is in spoken and written English. In LDOCE the symbols are boxes with either an’S’ (spoken) or a ‘W’ (written) followed by a number.

For example, a box saying W2 means that the headword in question belongs to the second thousand most common words in written English.

3. Pronunciation: phonetic script, given within parentheses ( ) or slash / / brackets, tells us how to pronounce the word (the pronunciation of the word is transcribed following the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)).

4. Word class: the word class (also called part-of-speech) of the word and other grammatical information is provided following conventional abbreviations, such as n for Noun and v for Verb.

5. Sense(s): when a word has more than one meaning, then the different senses are numbered. When a sense or a group of senses belong to a different word class, this is indicated.

For each sense, a definition is given which at the same time also functions as an explanation of its meaning.

6. Collocations, phrasal use and the syntactic operation of the word: examples are given of how the headword may be combined with other words to form idiomatic language usage.

Topic 3: USING A DICTIONARY | ENGLISH FORM 1

Importance of Dictionary book

1. Gives meaning of words

2. Shows words of the same meaning

3. Shows words which mean the opposite

4. Show the classes of word (verb, nouns, objectives)

5. Show how words are used

6. Show how words are made

7. Show how words are pronounced.

8. Synonyms: words, which mean the same, a called synonyms

Examples: -Angry – mad Cried – shouted Huge – big Hate – dislike Clever – bright

9. Antonyms: A dictionary also shows words which mean the opposite words which means the opposite are called antonyms

Examples:

o Hate – like

o Ugly – beautiful

o Slow – fast

o Friendly – enemy

o Strong – weak

Topic 3: USING A DICTIONARY | ENGLISH FORM 1

10. Word formation. A dictionary also shows how words are made. This is called word formation

– A noun can be made from a verb or from an Adjective

Example vacate (v) –vocation (N)

Some Nouns end with

(i) …………….. ion (examination)

(ii) …………………ty (beauty)

(iii) ………………….ness (politeness)

(iv) ……………………ce (importance)

Some of the objectives end with

(i) ………… ous (poisonous)

(ii) …………. Al (trial)

(iii) …………..ic (electric)

(iv) ………….. an (African)

(v) ………….. ful (helpful)

11. Pronunciation: A dictionary shows how words are pronounced English words are pronounced differently from Kiswahili. The way the English words are written is different from the way they pronounced.

Example: see –pronounced as /si/ and not see

Topic 3: USING A DICTIONARY | ENGLISH FORM 1

Exercise

Write the following words as they are pronounced in the dictionary

Example: King –/KiÅ‹/

(i) Sing =

(ii) Cheek =

(iii) Cart =

(iv) Chest =

(v) Dish =

Topic 3: USING A DICTIONARY | ENGLISH FORM 1

Exercise

Show differences of pronunciation of the underlined words.

1. Please sit on the seat

2. I left my hat in the hut

3. Pull the boy from the pool

4. Do not hurt my heart

ADDITION NOTES ON USING A DICTIONARY

Contents: 

  • Introduction
  • The Meaning of a Dictionary
  • Introduction to Dictionary 
  • Important Information about a dictionary 
  • 12 Important Aspects Found in a Dictionary and Their Usage 
  • 5 Dictionary Use Skills 
  • Conclusion 
  • References

INTRODUCTION 

The post was originally posted on Wednesday, 8 March 2017. The previous topic was ‘Stating Directions – Part 2

The topic addresses the general use of a dictionary and the focus on how to guide students to effectively use the dictionaries in finding the meaning and other related aspects of a dictionary as far as English Language learning is concerned. Read the Original Post Here.

THE MEANING OF A DICTIONARY

Dictionary is a book that gives a list of words in alphabetical order and explains their meanings in the same language. Swahili Dictionary, English Dictionary, Swahili – English Dictionary, English – English Dictionary, English – French Dictionary, or German – English Dictionary. (Longman: Contemporary English, Full Colour, Pearson, 2003. p.432)

A book that explains the words and phrases in a particular subject. A Science Dictionary, Biology Dictionary, or Computer Dictionary. (Longman: Contemporary English, Full Colour, Pearson, 2003. p.432)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT A DICTIONARY

To use dictionaries effectively, the dictionary user should understand the following information:

[1] The purpose of a dictionary.

[2] The layout of a dictionary.

[3] Awareness of the alphabetical sequence of the dictionary entries.

[4] The Usage of a particular dictionary.

[5] The layers of explanation offered in the dictionary.

[6] Use of the timer to increase the speed of finding and processing the information obtained in a dictionary

IMPORTANT ASPECTS FOUND IN A DICTIONARY AND THEIR USAGE

Apart from getting core information like meanings and definitions, the following aspects are also found in a dictionary:

[1] Entry word/headword

[2] Pronunciation

[3] Part-of-Speech label

[4] Other forms of the headword

[5] Word origin

[6] Definitions

[7] Special-Usage Labels

[8] Examples

[9] Related word forms

[10] Plysemous/Multiple meanings

[11] Synonyms

[12] Antonyms

These elements are explained below:
[1] Entry word/Headword

This shows how the word is spelled and divided into syllables for some dictionaries. It also shows variant spellings. An example of an entry word is bed

[2] Pronunciation

Phonetic symbols and diacritical marks show how to pronounce the entry word. Some of the phonetic symbols appear on every first page of a dictionary. Example. An entry word bed is pronounced /bed/ 

[3] Part-of-speech-label

This tells whether the entry word is used as noun, verb and so forth. When a word can be used as than one part of speech, definitions are grouped by part of speech. For example, an entry bed is labelled as noun. /bed/ n Other examples, the headwords increase can be used  as (vi) and (vt).

[4] Other forms of the headword

Headword forms in terms of the spellings, singular and plural forms. Comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs are shown as well. Examples: Other forms of the headwords bed are: (phrases) single/double bed, go to bed, make your bed, time for bed, before bed, and others.

[5] Word origin

(Etymology). This shows where he word comes from. Some words come from Middle English, some come from Latin and so on. Thus, some dictionaries tend to give out this information.

[6] Definitions

If a word has more than one meaning, the meanings are numbered or lettered. Examplebed /bed/ n [C, U] a piece of furniture that you sleep on. 

[7] Special-usage labels

These labels identify special meanings or special uses of the word. Here, archaic indicates an out-dated meaning.

In some dictionaries, a word can be labelled ‘Law’ because it is mostly found in the field of law. Other examples: bed /bed/ n [C, U]. ‘C’ means that a headwords can be countable noun like beds, and ‘U’ means that a headwords can be uncountable noun as well.

[8] Examples

Word, sentences, or phrases show how the entry word is used in various circumstances.

Examples: 

She got into bed early. 
He got out of bed late. 
You should go to bed now. 
Take the medicine before bed.
[9] Related word forms.

Other forms of the entry word are listed. Usually these are phrases, compound words, or are created by the addition of suffixes. Examplesbed: related wordsCamp bed, double bed, four-poster bed, sofa bed, twin bed, bedroom, bedside, etc. 

[10] Polysemous/Multiple meanings.

Some headwords have multiple meanings, more than one meaning.  For example, the headword bed /bed/ n has more than 5 meanings:

1.Sleep: a piece of furniture that you sleep on.
2.Sex: used to refer to having sex
3.River: flat ground at the bottom of the river.
4.Garden: area prepared for plants to grow.
5.Rock: a layer of rock
[11] Synonyms.

Words with similar or the same meanings. These words may appear at the end of the entry. This illustration below shows some synonyms:  Examples: Synonyms for the headword bed /bed/ are: bedstead, berth, bunk, cot, couch, crib, mattress, etc.

[12] Antonyms.

Words with opposite meanings. These words may appear at the end of the entry. This illustration below shows some antonyms: Examples: Antonyms for the headword go are: stay, stop, and return.

DICTIONARY USE SKILLS

The following are the activities and skills which can help the English language learner to use dictionary effectively:

A. PRONUNCIATION DRILLS 

These drills aim at attaining the correct pronunciation of English words. Most dictionaries indicate the pronunciation forms of each headword. The language learner has to practice a lot in order to have better pronunciation of each English word. Additionally, language learners can listen to audio-visual recordings to clearly experience how English words are correctly pronounced.

B. SPEEDY WORD SEARCH 

This is a game in which a teacher or another student calls out a word, and the student(s) must find the word as quickly as possible.

C. MYSTERY WORD SEARCH 

This is a game in which the students are given a series of clues about words. When they hear the clues of a certain word, they look for the word in the dictionary.

Example 1:

Clues: I begin with the fourth letter of the alphabet. My second letter is an “o.” I am one syllable word. I can protect you at night and hunt for you. The students should look for a word which match these Clues.

The answer is ‘dog’

More exercises like this are needed to find the correct words in the dictionaries, hence increasing more vocabulary.

Example 2:

Clues: My word begins with “h”. It is something we wear and it is one syllable word.

The answer is “hat”

Example 3: 

Clues: My word ends with “th”. It begins with the second letter in the English alphabet. Without doing it, our body looks bad.

The answer is “bath”

Example 4: 

Clues: My word has the letters “ctu” in the middle. It is something we like to do when we have cameras.

The answer is “picture”

Example 5: 

Clues: My word ends with “fe”. It is an object used to cut objects.

The answer is “Knife”

Example 6: 

Clues: My word begins with “Lo”. It is something that carries heavy loads. It is driven.

The answer is “Lorry”

D. KEEPING A NOTEBOOK OF NEW WORDS 

In learning foreign language like English, some activities should not be ignored. One of them is to have each student keep a notebook of new words (vocabulary). This is a nice activity to do daily or a few times a week.

It is also good for handwriting practice. Each day, each student finds a word in the dictionary that he/she doesn’t know. Then he/she writes the word, its definition, and example sentences in his/her notebook.

Application of words is required. Students should apply the newly acquired words in various contexts like sharing with their others in morning talks, debates, and discussions.

E. MAKING UP NEW WORDS 

Students can participate in making up a list of new words with their definitions.

As a practice, each student write a new word with its definition on a piece of paper and affix it on a class Noticeboard. Or if the class is big, few students can be selected or do this activity in pairs or groups.

A class should make a list of the new words and their definitions. The class should be encouraged to use the new words in everyday conversation.

CONCLUSION

Apart from learning dictionary use skills, students can develop various skills like; Outlining skills, Sentence Writing skills, and summarisation skills.

Learning Dictionary Use is important for Secondary school students especially Form One Students. Dictionary aspects like meaning, pronunciation, spelling, and grammar have to be emphasised.

Parents and guardians should also be encouraged to have dictionaries at home for make learning process even easier for students.

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