ESL Learner Dictionaries: A Study of Definition Difficulty

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1985
Authors
McFarquhar, Peter
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University of Hawaii at Manoa. Department of English as a Second Language.
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ESL teachers, frequently recommend dictionaries to their students, and nearly every learner owns one. Although many dictionaries may seem much alike, there are differences in the defining styles and techniques they employ that may considerably influence how useful learners will find them. However, just what sort of definitions and explanations learners actually find most helpful and understandable is little understood. To investigate this question, ESL students at the University of Hawaii were asked to evaluate a sample of entries illustrating different defining practices commonly used in English dictionaries. The entries were taken from two well known learner's dictionaries, the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, and a widely used dictionary for native speakers, Webster's New World Dictionary. A significart majority of these learners consistently preferred entries from Longman. Possible factors contributing to this preference, and Implications for other learners, ESL teachers, and lexicographers are discussed.ESL teachers, frequently recommend dictionaries to their students, and nearly every learner owns one. Although many dictionaries may seem much alike, there are differences in the defining styles and techniques they employ that may considerably influence how useful learners will find them. However, just what sort of definitions and explanations learners actually find most helpful and understandable is little understood. To investigate this question, ESL students at the University of Hawaii were asked to evaluate a sample of entries illustrating different defining practices commonly used in English dictionaries. The entries were taken from two well known learner's dictionaries, the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, and a widely used dictionary for native speakers, Webster's New World Dictionary. A significart majority of these learners consistently preferred entries from Longman. Possible factors contributing to this preference, and Implications for other learners, ESL teachers, and lexicographers are discussed.
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esl, vocabulary development, dictionary, lexicographer, esl education
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75 pages
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