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Good or Bad

  • Author:Lydia
  • Source:original
  • Release on:2014-09-03

The electronic dictionary's main advantage is, of course, speed. A word can be found quickly without being overwhelmed or "lost" in pages upon pages of words. There is no need for exercises dealing with the alphabet order, as that skill is no longer a prerequisite of efficient word search. However, there are some pitfalls:

  1. Typing errors. A basic habit pupils must acquire is to check that the word they wanted (in English) is actually the word that appears on the screen. If a pupil types in a word incorrectly, but the mistaken word exists in English, they will get a totally different meaning in Hebrew than what they need. It may sound obvious, but the pupils must be reminded repeatedly to check the English before studying the suggested translations. Some dictionaries will also "bring" you to the English word most similar to the mistaken one. If a pupil has some fine motor problems, I would suggest an electronic dictionary with larger keys, even though it's bulkier in one's schoolbag.
  2. Prefixes and suffixes must be stressed here. If a pupil is looking for the word "parties" in a printed dictionary, the word will appear in brackets next to "party", so it can be found even if the pupil doesn't remember the "ies" rule here. In many electronic dictionaries (not all) it cannot be found. Pupils must remember to "take off" ed, ing and such. Which brings me to the issue of syntax. As with any dictionary, printed or electronic, in order to choose the right meaning you must know what part of speech is needed (the word "shop", for example, has a different meaning as a noun and as a verb). With the electronic dictionary, the importance of syntax may, in some cases, be magnified. An adjective ending with the suffix "ed" should be looked up as such, while a verb ending with ed should be looked up without the "ed" ("educated", for example).
  3. Phrasal verbs. The electronic dictionary affords easy access to the most common phrasal verbs but the printed dictionary usually provides more. 
    * It is important to note that while printed dictionaries have examples of the correct use of the word in sentences, many weak pupils are unable to use this feature and do not find it lacking in the electronic dictionary. To the best of my knowledge, there is one electronic dictionary on the market that includes sentences. It is popular with the five pointers. Other pupils complain that it slows the speed down considerably.

No amount of practice will overcome the biggest problem; the electronic dictionaries are considerably more expensive than the printed ones…