Monday, 12 September 2011


A good dictionary is…….like a good friend: helpful, useful and always there when you need it.

But how can we get out students to love a dictionary in the way we do. Below are 7 activities that help with training the students to use a dictionary.

  • Speed dating

Open the dictionary at a random page.

Find a word you like the look of.

Walk round – tell everyone your word and listen / write down the words.

Decide which word ‘partners’ with your word.

Tell the class.

  • Flick Quiz

Give students a list of words in alphabetical order

If using Oxford Studijni Slovnik ask them to find translations, if using a mono lingual dictionary ask them to find definitions.

Tell them it is a race.

First to finish wins.

  • Quiz

Give students a quiz that will help them notice the features of a dictionary.

Put them into groups and ask them to find the answers to the quiz.

(See below for ideas of questions)

  • Spelling

Get participants to draw the table in their notebook.

Tell them we are going to do a spelling test. they need to try to spell the word in one of two columns sure / not sure.

Don’t worry is not a real test

compare their answers with a partner, if there are any differences, look up the words in the dictionary.

  • Find the…

Put students into 2 groups A and B

Give the As some nouns and the Bs some adjectives from the same root word.

Ask them to look the words up, As find the Adjective Bs fine the nouns.

Pair an A with a B to check their answers.

  • Beginnings and Endings

Give students a list of groups of root words

Each group all have the same prefix or suffix

Ask students to use the dictionary to look find the affix.

  • Thesaurus

Give students some sentences, ask them to go home and use the dictionary CD-ROM to look up the words in the sentences and use the thesaurus feature to find synonyms.  Rewrite the sentence with the synonyms.

Don’t forget our students are less interested in books and more interested in computers. Maybe we can encourage them to love their CD-ROMs as much as we do. All of these activities could be done on CD-ROMs rather than with books

Examples of Quiz Questions

  • How many nouns can the verb produce make?
  • Why is ‘pick up mushrooms’ incorrect?
  • What’s the difference between shovel, spade and hoe?
  • How many meanings / sense / parts of speech  are there for the word process?
  • What word collocates with prodigy?
  • What is the difference between orchards and groves?
  • What does ‘to be ahead of your time’ mean?
  • Which of these words is not in the Oxford 3000 ahead /  music / naughty?

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