The Impact of Monolingual Dictionaries on Reading Comprehension among Sudanese English Majors

Abuelgasim Abdelbagi Elhaj


Vocabulary is recognized as a central aspect of mastery of the language and the use of monolingual dictionaries is regarded as a crucial tool in determining meanings of words in reading exercises. This paper aims at exploring the effects of dictionaries on reading appreciation among Sudanese students. The reading comprehension test was a replication of the text used in an experiment by Nesi and Meara (1992). Its rationale is simple: since monolingual dictionaries are designed to help in reading comprehension, it is reasonable to assume that dictionary users will score significantly better than non-dictionary users. The study sample comprised 50 students from a Public Sudanese university, with half the students carrying out the test using monolingual dictionaries and the other half without this aid. Dictionary users were asked to tick the words they had looked up and to write down their meanings. The meanings selected were matched with the original context, and judgment was made as to whether the degree of correctness had affected the scores. The results indicate that no statistically significant differences exist between the two groups. This conclusion contradicts the bulk of research and the researcher proposes a number of explanations for this apparent failure. It is suggested that the poor reference skills of the subjects is the major responsible factor.

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