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Response t: Edward Gates 1hese papers are a welcome contribution to the resources for teaching dictionary use and using dictionaries in teaching. Some earlier accounts of such instruction have appeared in thisjournal (Gates 1979, 122-23; Gates 1997, 71-72 and 79-80; and Hallen 1994). Erin McKean's report on the teaching of dictionary skills in elementary schools raises at least one question for further research and indicates two areas for improvement in the early teaching of dictionary use. McKean wonders if some teachers who responded to Scott Foresman 's survey might be using adult dictionaries. A future study should survey the dictionaries supplied in elementary classrooms nationwide to assess whether they are appropriate to the age level, up to date, and in sufficient quantity. I once visited a junior high school classroom where the students had a television camera, but for dictionaries had only a dozen or so cheap paperback adult dictionaries that were not from a major reference publisher. And that was before students would have had access to computer dictionary resources. McKean also reports that teachers who instruct their students in dictionary skills want more resources. This concern was first addressed by the Dictionary Society of North America in 1988, when plans were initiated to sponsor a periodical on dictionaries for school teachers. That project died. In 1999, a new task force was recruited to foster effective teaching with and about dictionaries in schools and colleges . Ideas proposed included a school bulletin, syllabi to guide teachers , research on the use of dictionaries in schools, a bibliography of resources for teaching dictionary use, an annual award for the teacher who best used or taught about dictionaries, and a web site or linked sites with resources for teachers. At least one task force member already has an example of using dictionaries in college teaching on his Dictionaries:fournal ofthe Dictionary Society ofAmerica 21 (2000) 1 1 0 Edward Gates website (http://www.multimedia@calpoly.edu/tibarts/ccod). To instruct his students at California Polytechnic State University in the application of linguistics, John Battenburg has set up an online dictionary to which they add entries as they find new terms and names. Battenburg spoke about this project at DSNA's 1999 biennial convention , at the University of California at Berkeley, in a paper entitled "Teaching Linguistics through Lexicography: The California Central Coast Online Dictionary Project," written with Kathleen Margaret Lant, of California State University at Hayward. Another idea from the task force was to encourage projects that would provide every student with his or her own dictionary. DSNA can also encourage publishers of school dictionaries to produce more teaching resources, in print and electronic formats. Publishers of school dictionaries generally provide guides and exercises to accompany their products, and some publishers also have websites with both dictionary resources and vocabulary learning activities. Merriam-Webster's "Language Center," for example, includes searchable online dictionaries, The Barnhart Dictionary Companion, and lesson plans for parents and teachers, as well as "Word Central for Kids," with "Cool New Stuff," "Daily Word Game," "Word for the Wise," and a guide for building one's own dictionary. McKean's paper also points up the need for better teacher training for instruction in dictionary skills. She urges lexicographers to "to take a more active stance in promoting dictionary teacher training ." What can DSNA do? John Algeo, in his presidential address, proposed that DSNA sponsor a series of college (and lower-level) syllabi for "educating students in the nature and use of dictionaries" (1995, 3). Such syllabi could be published in our newsletter or journal for comment by members, like the position paper prepared by Sidney Landau on crediting the work of lexicographers (Landau 1996). Then they might be submitted to education journals. A syllabus at the college level, where future teachers are trained, should incorporate the following components: (1) future teachers should be introduced to the kinds of print and electronic resources available to them for teaching dictionary skills, to resources for learning what specific materials are available, and to sources of critical evaluation of those materials; (2) they should be disabused of some mistaken beliefs that have grown up around dictionaries, as noted by McKean...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 81-89
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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