A study of dictionary use by international students at a British University

Hilary Nesi, R. Haill

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Abstract

This paper reports on an investigation into the dictionary-using habits of international students studying in the medium of English at a British University. Over a period of three years, six groups of students were set assignments requiring them to report on the way they had consulted dictionaries to find the meanings of unknown words in texts of their choice. Eighty-nine assignments were analysed, to reveal subjects' choices of reading material, look-up words and dictionaries. The data also showed that whilst the majority of words were looked up successfully, more than half the subjects were unsuccessful in at least one out of five dictionary consultations. Subjects were found to have particular difficulty in selecting appropriate entries and sub-entries in their dictionaries. Some consultation problems resulted in serious errors of interpretation, which subjects were largely unaware of.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-305
JournalInternational Journal of Lexicography
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in the International Journal of Lexicography following peer review. The version of record: Nesi, H. and Haill, R. (2002) A study of dictionary use by international students at a British University. International Journal of Lexicography, volume 15 (4): 277-305 is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ijl/15.4.277.

Keywords

  • dictionary use
  • international students

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