A Look into the Sources and Choices of the Lookup Words Targeted By Saudi EFL Dictionary Users

Abstract

Two of the aspects of dictionary use little-explored in VLS research are related to the lookup words themselves rather than the dictionary being used. These are sources of the lookup words (i.e. where the words originate from or encountered) as well as criteria for choice of the lookup words (i.e. how the words are selected for lookup). Ninety Saudi undergraduate EFL learners in their first year of English major took part in the present study for which a literature-informed questionnaire was carefully designed to elicit data from the participants. As for word sources, the findings indicate an inclination by Saudi EFL learners to look up words originating from class-related sources more than those originating from entertainment sources. In particular, while English skills textbooks featured as the most commonly used class-related source of words looked up by learners, the internet emerged as the most popular entertainment source. In relevance to lookup words choice criteria, in compliance with scholarly wisdom, words that were unguessable from context received the most attention by our subjects as candidate words for dictionary lookup. Also, although to a lesser extent, the subjects tended to look up words whose meanings they already managed to guess from context for the purpose of double checking these guessed meanings, an L2 learning practice often seen in the literature as being characteristics of ‘good’ learners.

Keywords: dictionary use strategy, lookup word, vocabulary learning strategy (VLS)


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