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The Dictionary and Vocabulary Behavior: A Single Word or a Handful?

James Baxter
TESOL Quarterly
Vol. 14, No. 3 (Sep., 1980), pp. 325-336
DOI: 10.2307/3586597
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3586597
Page Count: 12
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The Dictionary and Vocabulary Behavior: A Single Word or a Handful?
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Abstract

Choosing the most appropriate dictionary for students in the ESOL classroom is a recurrent problem. So as to provide a context for dictionary selection, this article presents a view of vocabulary referred to as vocabulary behavior. By making an explicit distinction between spoken and written English, this view reveals the relation between dictionary use, classroom vocabulary behavior and student success in meeting their communicative needs. An argument in support of the choice of a monolingual English learner's dictionary is presented. Whereas a bilingual dictionary tends to encourage the employment of a single lexical item, the monolingual dictionary demonstrates that definition is an alternative. Through use of a monolingual dictionary, students are led to the use of conversational definition in speech and thus benefit from the full range of resources offered in spoken English. Questionnaire data is presented describing the dictionary habits and preferences of a population of Japanese university students of English.

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