Dictionaries are important reference tools for learning languages. Good dictionaries provide context for words such as meaning, part-of-speech,
gender and usage examples. This gives students a deeper understanding of a word than a simple translation.
This article provides ideas for language teachers who want to develop lesson plans using multi-lingual dictionaries. It explains how VidaLingua
language apps can be used to help students learn languages faster.
Look up Words
Provide a list of words to students to look up in the dictionary. Some ideas for basic word lists can be found at
. Students may get frustrated looking up words in
paper dictionaries because of the time it takes to find a word. VidaLingua dictionary apps allow students to start typing a word and see
all matching entries immediately which decreases lookup time dramatically.
Make a list of words such as "milk", "love" or "help" that have different meanings and can be used as different parts-of-speech. Ask students
to explain the differences and use the word correctly in a sentence. VidaLingua dictionary apps include multiple meanings and part-of-speech for
most headwords to help students with this task.
About 1/4th of the world’s languages use gender to classify nouns. The gender of a noun is reflected in the usage of associated words such as
articles and adjectives. Ask students to lookup common nouns like “home”, “dog” or “cat” and write the words with the correct article and the
correct form of an adjective. VidaLingua dictionary entries include gender for nouns to facilitate the task.
Create Usage Examples
Some words lack exact translations in a language so usage examples are more useful to comprehend their meaning. Read the usage examples provided
for commonly used dictionary words. Ask students to find additional examples, slang forms or country specific ways to use a word using online
resources. VidaLingua apps allow students to annotate dictionary entries with this type of information.
Learn the present, past and future tenses for common verbs such as “be”, “have” and “go”. Commonly used English verbs can be found at
. For more advanced students, ask them to learn additional
verb moods such as Subjunctive and Conditional. Write down conjugations in the student’s native language and learning language. VidaLingua
apps provide conjugations in all major moods and tenses to check their work.
Give students a list of words that are difficult to pronounce and ask them to practice. Some paper dictionaries provide phonetic pronunciation
guides for dictionary entries using special characters which may be challenging for some students. VidaLingua apps provide audio pronunciation
which student can compare to their own pronunciation.
Create a Personal Phrasebook
Ask students to write a list of phrases they would use on a trip to another country. Have them think of places they would visit, like a
museum or landmark, and think of phrases they might use while there. Ask them to translate the sentences and verify they are correct.
This exercise could be used to create a class phrasebook for a trip abroad. VidaLingua apps allow students to add sentences to the
My Phrases section of the phrasebook.
Do you use dictionaries in the classroom in innovative ways? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
to let us know how.
By Allison Flowers, French Teacher, John L. LeFlore High School
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