Language learner perspectives on the functionality and use of electronic language dictionaries

Levy, Mike and Steel, Caroline (2015) Language learner perspectives on the functionality and use of electronic language dictionaries. ReCALL, 27 2: 177-196. doi:10.1017/S095834401400038X

Author Levy, Mike
Steel, Caroline
Title Language learner perspectives on the functionality and use of electronic language dictionaries
Journal name ReCALL   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1474-0109
Publication date 2015-05-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1017/S095834401400038X
Open Access Status
Volume 27
Issue 2
Start page 177
End page 196
Total pages 20
Place of publication Cambridge, United Kingdom
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
This paper investigates the extent of electronic dictionary use by language learners in an Australian university. All students in the study are formally enrolled in language courses across ten languages at first, second or third year level. The study places a particular emphasis on gauging student perceptions of the beneficial aspects of electronic dictionaries as judged by learners themselves in circumstances where they are able to act independently. As these benefits are often described in terms of usability and functionality, these particular terms are defined and introduced in the literature review, and then later they are employed to help structure and describe the results.

The arguments for the discussion are supported by the use of empirical data taken from a large-scale survey conducted in 2011 (n=587) where comments from students were obtained on why and how dictionary-type resources were accessed and used (see also Steel & Levy, 2013). The paper restricts itself to the quantitative and qualitative data gathered on mobile phones, translators, dictionaries and web conjugators and related items (e.g. discussion forums). The particular functions that students use and the ways in which they use them are described and categorised, with the discussion supported by student comments.

The data exhibits a remarkable range of resources available to students to look up unknown words or to see translations and, consequently, our understanding of what exactly an electronic dictionary might comprise is challenged. Many students’ comments demonstrate a sophistication and knowledge about the effective use of these dictionary tools together with a keen awareness of their limitations.
Keyword Language dictionary
Discussion forums
Mobile learning
Web conjugators
Look-up behaviour
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Languages and Cultures Publications
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