You can develop your language accuracy, such as the use of the prepositions we have just seen in the previous topic, by checking dictionaries. Dictionaries contain not only the meaning of words but also other useful information such as dependent prepositions (e.g. conscious of), type of words (e.g. countable or uncountable nouns) or useful collocations (e.g. make mistakes). In this section, we’ll look at how we can use dictionaries more effectively to improve our learners’ language use.
In addition to dependent prepositions, type of words and collocations, what other information can you get from a dictionary? Write your ideas in your notebook then check your answers below.
Dictionaries can provide a lot of useful information for our lessons including:
As you can see, online dictionaries can provide a lot of information about a word. The information they provide also depends on the type of word. For example, with grammar words you don’t normally focus on collocations but with many nouns and verbs there is usually information about strong collocations.
You don’t need to check all aspects of the word when learning more things about a new word but don’t hesitate to use the grammar pages in the online dictionaries as they provide very clear explanations and examples. For example, the Cambridge dictionary provides the following useful grammar explanations about determiners:
The Cambridge dictionary and the Collins dictionary are just two examples of the many dictionaries that are available on paper and online. Don’t hesitate to explore different dictionaries until you find one that you particularly like.
Correct the following mistakes with the expressions in bold. Check a dictionary if necessary. Click on the sentence to check.
→ homework cannot have an -s because it’s uncountable. The word homework collocates with the verb do, not make. So the correct sentence should be: do a lot of homework.
→ furious with
→ other people (another + singular noun / other + plural noun)
→ can you teach me how to do this dish?
vocabulary (uncountable). If you want to make it into plural, use words: My students find it difficult to learn a lot of words.
You have just done some activities using dictionaries but let’s put our teacher’s hat on now. Think about your answers to the following questions and take notes in your personal notebook.