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Learning Outcomes

By the end of VOCABULARY LEVEL 1 you should be able to
✔ study vocabulary independently
✔ use different strategies to expand and record vocabulary

Introduction to Independent Learning

Independent learning gives you more choice about what, when and how fast to study. It also prepares you to learn after complete full time education.

In order to study independently you need to be able to set your own aims, choose how you want to study and reflect on the usefulness of studying that you do and on your overall progress.

Since you have chosen to study VOCABULARY LEVEL 1, we can assume that you want to learn more about how to expand and remember words more effectively. The online activities are designed to help you to develop and build the bank of words and expressions that you have at your disposal.

To begin with, there is a vocabulary quiz which will give you some idea of where you strengths and weaknesses lie.

Dictionary Quiz 1 Dictionary Quiz 2 Dictionary Quiz 3 Rating Form

Package 3 – Dictionary Skills


Dictionary skills

In your reading, there are certain key words that you must understand in order to understand a text. Of course dictionaries are a very useful tool when learning new words but they can tell you a lot more about a word than just its meaning; for example, its synonyms, antonyms and examples of how the word is used in sentences.

Activity 1

Do you have a dictionary? Is it mono-lingual or bilingual? Do you use an electronic dictionary? Do you think that you have already developed some good dictionary skills? The following quizzes will help you to determine how well you know your dictionary.

Dictionary quiz 1

Use the quiz to get to know your dictionary. How quickly can you answer all the questions?

  1. Is there a list of prefixes and suffixes? On what page?
  2. Are there illustrations to show the meaning of particular groups of words (e.g. fruit and vegetables, cars, kitchenware, etc.)? Where are they?
  3. Is there an index of these illustrations so you can quickly find what you want? Where is it?
  4. Is there any general information about British and American English? Where?
  5. Where can you find a list of all the abbreviations used in the dictionary?
  6. Do the entries include examples of the vocabulary used in whole sentences?
  7. Is there a note or extra help on when you should use the word gay? Is this word in common use today? What did it originally mean?
  8. Is any information given about how frequently a word occurs in spoken and written English today?
  9. Do the entries indicate which other words are commonly found in combination with the main word (e.g. deep/heavy/light + sleep)?
  10. Is there a guide or note which explains exactly what information is included in each entry? Where is it?

Different types of dictionaries

Using dictionaries can be a little tricky. English-English (or monolingual) dictionaries provide accurate explanations of word meanings and usage. However, they may be difficult for some students to use. On the other hand, bilingual dictionaries may not be very accurate and can prove to be misleading. As many language learners already know, every language has words and ideas that are extremely difficult to translate into another language. In this case, bilingual dictionaries can be particularly deceptive.

Dictionary quiz 2

The following quiz is designed for you to compare different dictionaries. Try the quiz first with a bilingual dictionary. Then do the same with a pocket dictionary. Finally see if you can answer the questions using a large, monolingual dictionary (for example, the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English). If you want to try the quiz using an online dictionary, using:

  1. What is the opposite of exclude exclude ?
    include
  2. How do you pronounce flour?
    /’flauƏ/
  3. Do people use hot topic in their essays nowadays?
    No, for an academic essay the expression ‘hot topic’ is deemed to be
    1. too informal
    2. too clichéd
  4. What different meanings of pylon are there?
    1. Pylon, a support structure for suspension bridges or highways.
    2. Electricity pylon, or transmission tower, a steel lattice tower used to support an overhead power line.
  5. What is the name for a male chicken?
    American English – rooster
    British English – cockerel (short form – cock)
  6. When do we use the word good and when do we use well?
    • good is an adjective used to describe noun – a good game
    • well is an adverb used to describe a verb – she played well
    NOTE: How are you? I’m good is INCORRECT– should be I’m well or I’m very well
  7. The heavy rains meant that the foundation work was delayed. upshot
    The upshot of the heavy rains was that the foundation work was delayed.
  8. What is the most common use of the word shuttle (noun)?
    1. a device in a loom for passing or shooting the weft thread through the shed from one side of the webto the other, usually consisting of a boat-shaped piece of wood containing a bobbin on which the weft thread is wound.
    2. the sliding container that carries the lower threadin a sewing machine.
    3. a public conveyance such as a train, airplane, or bus that travels back and forth at regular intervals over a particular route, especially a short route or one connecting two transportation systems.
  9. What are the sharp, pointed needles on a hedgehog’s back called?
    spines
  10. When is it not suitable to use the expression kick the bucket?
    'He kicked the bucket' is a humorous way of saying 'he died'. It is used to deflect conversation away from the unpleasant subject of death.
  11. What is the British English word for popsicle?
    lollipop

Dictionary quiz 3

Think about these questions.
  1. Are all dictionaries the same?
    No they’re not. There are different types e.g. bilingual dictionaries, picture dictionaries, technical dictionaries which only focus on a specialist field such medicine or law, online dictionaries, apps, concise dictionaries, pocket dictionaries, dictionaries focusing on a specific area of language such as phrasal verbs or colloquialisms / slang, dictionaries for particular countries e.g. Australia.
  2. What different aspects of language are being tested by the questions in the quiz?
    They are testing:
    1. ability to find ‘antonym’ – words with an opposite meaning
    2. pronunciation and ability to read the IPA and identify word stress
    3. knowledge of formality, appropriateness and use of expressions
    4. application of different uses of a word
    5. specific vocabulary plus differences between different Englishes, in this case British and American
    6. part of speech and ability to apply grammatical rules to vocabulary
    7. frequency of use of a word
    8. specific unusual vocabulary
    9. knowledge of formality, appropriateness and use of expressions
    10. differences between different Englishes, in this case British and American
  3. What information should a good dictionary contain?
    Dictionaries should contain:
    • a definition or several definitions
    • part or parts of speech
    • pronunciation – IPA phonemes and stress / online – word recording
    • common expressions using the word
    • example sentences / phrases
    • an indication of whether a verb is transitive or non-transitive
    • an indication of whether a verb is stative or dynamic
    • examples of collocations e.g. matching prepositions
    • details of regionality e.g. typically British or American English
    • alternative spellings of the word e.g. ise / ize
    • information about whether the word is formal, slang or taboo
    • its age – is it an old-fashioned or a modern item of vocabulary?
    • the register – is this word commonly used in a specific field e.g. law, IT or medicine
    • the word’s connotation – positive or negative leaning or meaning
    • an indication of whether the word is usually spoken or written
    • links to THESAURUS to help access synonyms and antonyms*
    • links to a CONCORDANCE to help identify usage and common collocations*

    *for online dictionaries
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