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The use and abuse of EFL dictionaries: How learners of English as a foreign language read and interpret dictionary entries. / Hilary Nesi

Swansea University Author: Hilary, Nesi

Abstract

This thesis begins with a review of research into dictionary use. A number of experimental design problems are discussed, in particular the unreliability of questionnaire responses, and the need for detailed accounts of individual dictionary consultations whilst sampling in numbers sufficient to rep...

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Published: 1994
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa42801
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spelling 2018-08-02T16:24:30.5233962 v2 42801 2018-08-02 The use and abuse of EFL dictionaries: How learners of English as a foreign language read and interpret dictionary entries. 136039b66c99931933a236207c87f689 NULL Hilary Nesi Hilary Nesi true true 2018-08-02 This thesis begins with a review of research into dictionary use. A number of experimental design problems are discussed, in particular the unreliability of questionnaire responses, and the need for detailed accounts of individual dictionary consultations whilst sampling in numbers sufficient to represent specified populations. The experiments reported in subsequent chapters investigate issues raised in the review. The first two studies find that dictionary use during a reading comprehension test affected completion speed but not test scores. The apparent failure of dictionary use to improve comprehension is attributed to the test itself, the dictionaries, and the users' choice of look-up words. The ability of users to interpret dictionary entries is investigated in three further studies which use computers to gather data on large numbers of individual consultations. The findings indicate that there is little difference between three major EFL dictionaries in terms of speed of consultation and overall productive success. They also indicate that Malaysian ESL subjects, who have higher vocabulary scores, are slower in their reading and less successful in their interpretation of entries than Portuguese EFL subjects. Finally, the findings suggest that overall productive success is unaffected by the presence or absence of examples. The experimental findings lead to the conclusion that dictionary consultation is a process in which users match pre-existing beliefs about word meaning and behaviour against segments in the dictionary entry. Such segments are often selected because they are familiar-sounding and conceptually accessible, but may contain only incomplete or non-essential information. Where pre-existing beliefs and dictionary information conflict, dictionary information is sometimes overridden. Thus word knowledge acquired from a single consultation is often insufficient to ensure productive success. Although it is probably inevitable that word knowledge will be acquired slowly, through multiple encounters, modifications to the dictionary entry and the training of users might help to avoid serious misinterpretation of dictionary information. E-Thesis English as a second language. 31 12 1994 1994-12-31 COLLEGE NANME English Language and Applied Linguistics COLLEGE CODE Swansea University Doctoral Ph.D 2018-08-02T16:24:30.5233962 2018-08-02T16:24:30.5233962 College of Arts and Humanities English Language and Applied Linguistics Hilary Nesi NULL 1 0042801-02082018162522.pdf 10807577.pdf 2018-08-02T16:25:22.9570000 Output 11247925 application/pdf E-Thesis true 2018-08-02T16:25:22.9570000 false
title The use and abuse of EFL dictionaries: How learners of English as a foreign language read and interpret dictionary entries.
spellingShingle The use and abuse of EFL dictionaries: How learners of English as a foreign language read and interpret dictionary entries.
Hilary, Nesi
title_short The use and abuse of EFL dictionaries: How learners of English as a foreign language read and interpret dictionary entries.
title_full The use and abuse of EFL dictionaries: How learners of English as a foreign language read and interpret dictionary entries.
title_fullStr The use and abuse of EFL dictionaries: How learners of English as a foreign language read and interpret dictionary entries.
title_full_unstemmed The use and abuse of EFL dictionaries: How learners of English as a foreign language read and interpret dictionary entries.
title_sort The use and abuse of EFL dictionaries: How learners of English as a foreign language read and interpret dictionary entries.
author_id_str_mv 136039b66c99931933a236207c87f689
author_id_fullname_str_mv 136039b66c99931933a236207c87f689_***_Hilary, Nesi
author Hilary, Nesi
author2 Hilary Nesi
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department_str English Language and Applied Linguistics{{{_:::_}}}College of Arts and Humanities{{{_:::_}}}English Language and Applied Linguistics
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description This thesis begins with a review of research into dictionary use. A number of experimental design problems are discussed, in particular the unreliability of questionnaire responses, and the need for detailed accounts of individual dictionary consultations whilst sampling in numbers sufficient to represent specified populations. The experiments reported in subsequent chapters investigate issues raised in the review. The first two studies find that dictionary use during a reading comprehension test affected completion speed but not test scores. The apparent failure of dictionary use to improve comprehension is attributed to the test itself, the dictionaries, and the users' choice of look-up words. The ability of users to interpret dictionary entries is investigated in three further studies which use computers to gather data on large numbers of individual consultations. The findings indicate that there is little difference between three major EFL dictionaries in terms of speed of consultation and overall productive success. They also indicate that Malaysian ESL subjects, who have higher vocabulary scores, are slower in their reading and less successful in their interpretation of entries than Portuguese EFL subjects. Finally, the findings suggest that overall productive success is unaffected by the presence or absence of examples. The experimental findings lead to the conclusion that dictionary consultation is a process in which users match pre-existing beliefs about word meaning and behaviour against segments in the dictionary entry. Such segments are often selected because they are familiar-sounding and conceptually accessible, but may contain only incomplete or non-essential information. Where pre-existing beliefs and dictionary information conflict, dictionary information is sometimes overridden. Thus word knowledge acquired from a single consultation is often insufficient to ensure productive success. Although it is probably inevitable that word knowledge will be acquired slowly, through multiple encounters, modifications to the dictionary entry and the training of users might help to avoid serious misinterpretation of dictionary information.
published_date 1994-12-31T04:04:33Z
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