Sultan Alhatmi


A twenty-six-item questionnaire featuring 26 various word knowledge components (i.e. pieces of information relevant to a word) was handed to 90 Saudi EFL learners in order to a. identify the individual components that they were most and least interested in when performing dictionary lookups and b. pinpoint the word knowledge aspect (i.e. the strand or category to which individual word knowledge components relate to) to which their lookups were mostly oriented (i.e. form, meaning, or use). The subjects reported an extreme interest in digital pronunciation of words (i.e. pronunciation embedded in digital dictionaries), L1 equivalents, spelling as well as the L2 first and basic meaning of words paralleled with a high negligence towards verb transitiveness, word origin, pronunciation in a paper dictionary, meanings of word affixes as well as stylistic usage of words. In terms of word knowledge aspects, their word lookups were reportedly far more oriented towards word meaning and word form with significantly far less attention paid to the aspect of word use. Hence, we believe, L2 learners should be cautioned when performing dictionary lookups against this notable disinterest in the aspect of word use as it would most likely, in the long run, have a negative effect on their communicative competence in the L2 (i.e. their knowledge about how and when to use L2 utterances appropriately). Finally, we suggest that this study be replicated in other contexts and countries of different L1 backgrounds so that we can ascertain whether the learners’ L1 background has any relevance to the interest and attention they would pay to the three word knowledge aspects when consulting dictionaries (e.g. would word use be given significantly more attention among EFL Latin learners than Arab learners?).


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dictionary lookup, word knowledge, word knowledge aspect, word knowledge component, word form, word meaning, word use

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