Number one for English language teachers

Dictionary skills

A series of worksheets by Tim Bowen. These worksheets are aimed at training learners in dictionary use and developing their vocabulary.

These worksheets are designed for use with the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (subsequently referred to as the MED2). All the definitions and example sentences used in the worksheets are taken from the MED2 and, although some of the tasks could be done using other dictionaries, there is a strong possibility that some answers would not be found.

The worksheets are labelled Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. These levels are not intended to correspond directly to language level in the traditional sense (e.g. Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced) but rather to the learner's degree of ability in the use of the dictionary.

Level 1 introduces some basic aspects of dictionary use, such as finding the past tense of irregular verbs, finding the word class or classes of items of vocabulary (e.g. flat), and finding the main meanings of words with several meanings. These worksheets are ideal for learners who are using a monolingual dictionary for the first time.

Level 2 is slightly more complex, both in terms of language level and in terms of dictionary use, introducing elements such as phrasal verbs, collocations with prepositions and differences between British and American English.

Level 3 introduces more detailed work on phrasal verbs, more complex collocations and work on idioms and is intended for learners with good dictionary skills.

The aim of the worksheets is twofold. They are designed to train learners in dictionary use, enabling them to become familiar with the various features of the MED2 and to find information quickly and efficiently. The second aim is to develop their vocabulary in the different areas covered by the exercise types on each worksheet.

The worksheet tasks can be done in class as individual or pair/group activities or they can be set as homework/research tasks. An element of communication can be brought to each task by the use of pair or group work and by encouraging learners to try to answer questions before checking their answers in the dictionary. A full answer key is given at the end of each worksheet.

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