View Content #28957

Content Type4
TitleDo I Need to Use the Dictionary?

This activity guides learners through deciding whether or not to use a dictionary while reading. It was designed for learners of all levels.

Learning outcomes:
Learners will be able to:

  • Brainstorm words that might have a similar root or meaning to an unknown word
  • Paraphrase a sentence that an unknown word appears in
  • Decide, based in their ability to infer meaning, whether to look up new or unkown words in the dictionary

Mode: Interpretive

Materials: When to Use the Dictionary (Or Not) Video, Do I Need to Use the Dictionary? Worksheet, short reading text of learners’ or teacher’s choice, paper or digital dictionary


  1. Tell learners that you will be reading a short (roughly 100 words) text to them. Ask them to focus on recalling as much as they can once you’ve finished reading it. Tell them that you will use a dictionary to understand meaning throughout.
  2. Then, read through the text. While reading, stop to look up every noun and verb. As you read and stop, notice learners' reactions. Once you have finished reading the whole text (or as much as you can get through), ask learners to respond to the experience of listening. Were they able to recall the text well? Why or why not? 
  3. Tell learners that they will be exploring strategies for using the dictionary to their advantage. Remind them that they should utilize dictionaries in ways that assist, instead of interrupt, reading.
  4. Play the When to Use the Dictionary (Or Not) Video.
  5. Next, give learners the Do I Need to Use the Dictionary? Worksheet, and show them a short example text in the L2 that contains at least one word the learners are unlikely to know (this can be the same text as in step 1 if in the L2). Have learners identify the unknown word, and then, as a group, have them talk through the steps on the worksheet using this text and word. Do they decide, as a group or individually, that they would use the dictionary to look up the word? Why or why not?
  6. Tell learners that they will work individually to repeat this process using their own reading texts. Have them pull out their reading texts and a paper or digital dictionary, and then choose (or choose for them if using teacher-provided texts) one paragraph of the text to work with. Have learners read through the paragraph once and pick one word they do not know to focus on as they fill out the worksheet.
  7. Allow learners adequate time to fill in their worksheets; be available to answer learner questions as needed.
  8. Once learners have filled in their worksheets, gather the whole group back together. Ask learners to talk about their decision-making process if they chose to use the dictionary. How about the process if they did not use the dictionary? What did both groups notice about making this decision? What, if anything, might they change about making this decision in the future?
Inputdate2022-08-03 06:56:56
Lastmodifieddate2022-08-08 10:58:48
ExpdateNot set
Publishdate2022-08-08 09:15:02
Displaydate2022-08-08 00:00:00