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FORUM DICTIONARIES IN THE CLASSROOM Introduction i: M. Lynne Murphy "n this issue, Dictionaries publishes the proceedings of the Lexi- .cography Discussion Group meeting at the 1999 Convention of die Modern Language Association in Chicago. The following tiiree articles were those presented at that session, entitled "The Dictionary in the Classroom," and Edward Gates, past president of DSNA and organizer of the DSNA Taskforce on Dictionary Use in Schools, responds to their contents at the close of this forum. In this introduction, I provide some background to the forum and remark upon some of the surprises that should not have surprised me on the way to the Chicago session. The MLA's Lexicography Discussion Group has a hard core of tried-and-true attendees, and its sessions also draw the odd rhetorical, literary, or language theorist away from the general MLA throng. When it was my turn to organize the annual session, I hoped to do something that would draw some non-lexicographers into the group, both to let them know what a good thing we have going there and to put us more in touch with dictionary users. So, while education and school dictionaries are far from my areas of expertise, I chose the title "The Dictionary and the Classroom" and hoped that we'd discuss a different range of dictionaries than usually captures our attention. By happy coincidence, Edward Gates was organizing the DSNA taskforce as my call for papers was published, and I waited for the abstracts on school dictionaries and learners' dictionaries to come piling in. The surprise that shouldn't have been a surprise was that no such piles accrued. Erin McKean's study of dictionary use in the K-6 classroom was the only submission concerning dictionaries and children , and none of the submissions concerned learners' or bilingual dictionaries or languages other than English. For the most part, subDictionaries :fournal oftheDictionary Society ofAmerica 21 (2000) Introduction79 missions concerned college-level English projects in which students compiled dictionaries based on literary works or local slang. In these cases, the dictionary is created by students, rather than used by them, and the educational goals are more concerned with appreciation of literature or linguistics than with the skills and applications for using the products of professional lexicography. In other words, these exercises were framed as means to learn course content, rather than as a means for learning lifelong skills. In the student-as-lexicographer genre, the stand-out submission was that of Wayne Glowka and his students at Georgia College and State University. Here were students creating dictionary entries that had to pass professional muster, since they would be published in the "Among the New Words" column in American Speech. Their testimonials in the following pages indicate that they developed an appreciation for the plasticity of language and the intersting drudgery of lexicography, but also that they developed skills that will serve them well, whether or not they choose to pursue careers in lexicography. We can conclude that their work on "Among the New Words" gave them new or improved skills in basic research, writing succinctly and precisely, and attention to typographical and grammatical detail, and also disabused them of some of the common misunderstandings about dictionaries. As I listened to their paper, I was struck by how much their course was like my own "Bibliography and Research Methods" course for graduate students in English at Baylor University, except that the reference works that they deconstructed and emulated were dictionaries, rather than bibliographical indices. Because of this similarity, one wonders whether lexicographical instruction could take a more central role in "introduction to research" classes. In another article published here, Anne Curzan discusses pedagogical techniques for encouraging critical dictionary use in the university classroom. While her students are upper-level and graduate students in English, one could easily adopt her projects in a freshman composition class, in which case students in all majors could learn the lessons Curzan's University of Washington students learned, and could learn them at the beginnings of their academic careers.1 1In freshman composition classes and undergraduate semantics classes, I've assigned some similar projects, for example, asking students to "take a word...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 78-80
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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