Research Key

The Use of Dictionary In Teaching Writing and Speaking; the case of level 300 and 400 students of the English language department

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International: $20
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Qualitative method
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
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There are four skills in language learning and acquisition: Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing. Listening and reading are receptive skills while writing and speaking are productive skills. This is because the learner is expected to present all that he or she has learnt so far in writing and speaking.

Whatever one says could either nail him/her down or lift him/her up. That is why it is very important to be very careful with the kind of words we use when talking or writing. Words have been known to provoke war as well as to resolve conflicts.

Writing and speaking therefore entail possessing a vocabulary, spelling, expressions in order to make words more conspicuous and aesthetic. One of the major tools of attaining this balance is by procuring and making use of a good Dictionary.

The art of writing and compiling dictionaries is termed lexicography and those who carry out these studies are known as lexicographers. The English language has a total of about one thousand seven hundred and thirty-two thousand words in its lexicon. The origin of a dictionary will be studied in the subsequent chapters of this dissertation.

Background of the Study

The dictionary is one major tool of learning, because it helps us to know the meaning of words, how to spell words, pronunciation through phonetic transcriptions, proverbs and, idiomatic expressions, All these components of a dictionary, if used well or correctly will make a learner write and speak confidently.

The first English dictionary was written by Samuel Johnson and published on April 15, 1755. Samuel Johnson came up with his dictionary known as ” A Dictionary of the English Language”. It is one of the most influential dictionaries in the history of the development of the English Language. What therefore led to the study of the rise of the dictionary?

The rise of literacy amongst the general public and an explosion of printed works spurred the need for creating a dictionary. And so there was a need to check out patterns of grammar, definition and spelling of words. This could only be achieved by means of a strong and authoritative dictionary thus, the rise of the English Dictionary.

According to the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, a dictionary is a book that gives a list of words of a language in alphabetical order and explains what they mean or gives a word for them in a foreign language. Not only does it contain words but it deals with vocabulary, phonetic transcriptions, grammar, semantic, pragmatics (language usage).

All these can be achieved through rightful expressions such as idioms and proverbs. However, observation shows that students who do not write and speak well are those who do not possess and make use of dictionaries. A dictionary is supposed to be a student’s companion but unfortunately, this is not the case.

That is why it is advisable for every student to carry along a pocket dictionary given that the big ones are too heavy. Those who write well and talk fluently are those who make use of the dictionary always. Just as the saying goes “The Bible is to God as the Dictionary is to a language student”.

Statement of the Problem

It has been observed that apart from shyness and other psychological factors that prevent students from writing and talking, students who do not have and make use of a dictionary always register very poor performance in writing and speaking. If they are able to make use of a dictionary well, they will be able to talk and write well like professionals not to talk of listening reading and being able to understand the message.

Objectives of the Study

  • To create awareness of the importance of the dictionary.
  • To enable students to use the dictionary so as to improve upon writing and speaking skills.

To show how the use of a dictionary can contribute to the teaching of speaking and writing.

To analyse the great change in the performance of those students who make use of the dictionary and those who do not make use of it.

Research Questtions

Some of the relevant questions asked that will aid us in the course of carrying out this research are;

  1. How does the use of dictionaries by students affect their productive writing and speaking skills?
  2. What role does a dictionary play in the teaching of the English Language?
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