A Study of Dictionary Use by Saudi EFL Students at Qassim University

Arafat Hamouda


Dictionaries are an indispensable tool for learning a foreign language in general. Dictionaries provide students with valuable information in all aspects of language. They include phonological, morphological, syntactical and semantic information in addition to etymological and usage information. Unfortunately, there is currently a paucity of research on dictionary use by EFL learners and very little is known about the behavior and preferences of dictionary users and the complex operation involved in a dictionary consultation. The main objective of this study is to identify types of dictionaries used by Saudi students, the frequency of dictionary use, and the lexical information examined while using a dictionary. Two data-collection instruments were used in this study, namely a questionnaires and interviews. The results of the questionnaire show that Saudi students do not take full advantage of the different dictionaries available, and that they are not trained on how to make full use of the dictionaries. For example, most of them pay attention only to the definition or meaning of a word while neglecting the pragmatic aspect of the word, collocations as well as word formation knowledge. Results also indicated the superiority of the e-dictionary over the other types of dictionaries. Another more important finding was that participants favored bilingual dictionaries over monolingual dictionaries particularly when finding meaning of unknown words. Other information such as pronunciation, usage, and examples was of secondary importance. The final conclusion reached reported some difficulties that the students face when they use dictionaries. The results suggest that failure to locate the right entry is a common problem among Saudi EFL students. The implications of these and other findings are discussed and suggestions made regarding the importance of teaching dictionary skills in educational settings.

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/selt.v1n1p227


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright © SCHOLINK INC.  ISSN 2372-9740 (Print)  ISSN 2329-311X (Online)