An explicit and integrated intervention programme for training paper dictionary use in Greek primary school pupils

author: Zoe Gavriilidou, University of Thrace
published: July 27, 2018,   recorded: July 2018,   views: 791


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A recent trend in dictionary research resulted in the birth of pedagogical lexicography and the subsequent shift of interest from the dictionary as a product to the dictionary use and users' reference skills or strategies. In response to this development, many claims have been made about the teachability of users' reference skills (Wingate, 2004; Lew & Callas, 2008) or strategies (Gqvriilidou, 2002; 2012; 2013). Dictionary use training may improve specific skills (lemmatization, look up, etc.) that lead to successful dictionary use, increase users' awareness about the variety of instances that different types of dictionaries could be used and the characteristics of all different dictionary types, and enhance overall strategic dictionary use profile of users. Although there have been cases that dictionary use during specific tasks such as reading, writing or vocabulary learning has been questioned (Leffa, 1992; Aust et al. 1993; Taylor & Chan, 1994; Koga, 1995; Tang, 1997; Nesi 1999; Hill & Laufer, 2003), there is a consensus in relevant research that using dictionaries in language learning can be beneficial for the students (Tomaszczyk, 1979; Scholfield, 1982; Summers, 1988; Tono, 1988; Luppescu & Day, 1993; Knight, 1994; Fraser, 1999a; Γαβριηλίδου, 2002; Wingate, 2002, Nesi & Hail 2002, Chen, 2011). Based on this research, the revised National Curriculum for Greek language teaching in primary and lower secondary schools (Pedagogical Institute 2011) placed particular emphasis on dictionary use. Furthermore, acknowledging the positive effect of dictionary use in reading comprehension, writing, vocabulary learning or oral communication, new school dictionaries have been elaborated, and dictionary use exercises have been included in the new Textbooks for language teaching in Greece. However, only one Textbook, the one for Second Primary entitled Ταξίδι στον κόσμο της γλώσσας ‘A trip in Language’s world’ (Gavriilidou, Beze & Sfyroera 2006) incorporated a whole unit of fourteen pages (plus another eight pages in the exercise book) which includes an intervention programme that aims to familiarize students at an early stage (second Elementary, children aged eight years old) with the conventions of their school dictionary and systematically train them in dictionary use. The purpose of this paper is twofold: a) to offer tentative guidelines for teachers who wish to provide dictionary users with systematic training on how to successfully use a dictionary, by presenting the characteristics of the above mentioned innovative intervention programme, and discussing its benefits to dictionary use, b) provide a valid research methodology to researchers who wish to study the effect of training programmes to dictionary use. To do so, first, we focus on the revised curriculum of Greek Language Teaching in Greek Primary and lower secondary schools and present briefly the school dictionaries released recently in Greece. Second, we comment on literature concerning methodological issues and the characteristics of the programme and more specifically, the significance of the intervention’s duration, the importance of a justified choice of tasks for practicing dictionary use strategies, the measurement of dictionary strategy use before and after the instruction and finally the implementation of explicit and integrated strategic dictionary use training. Then, we present how the design of the specific intervention programme responds to the cultivation of reference skills that enhance dictionary use found in previous literature. Finally, we present a research protocol for studying the effect of an intervention training programme to dictionary use. This study contributes to the discussion about both teachability of strategic dictionary use and the effective forms of dictionary use training with integrative language skills. Bearing in mind the call for additional and more rigorous teacher-led intervention programmes for training dictionary use in different learning contexts around the world, we show how an explicit and integrated intervention programme can result in changes of users' habits during dictionary use. The evaluation criteria of such a programme could be the following: improvement in the dictionary use performance, strategy maintenance upon time and finally expansion of dictionary use in various cases.

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