Season 5 Episode 3: Dictionaries

In this episode Shaun and Lindsay talk dictionaries. Well, in fact, we talk to someone who knows about dictionaries with an interview with lexicographer Julie Moore. We discuss dictionaries of all kinds, whether in the digital age dictionaries still have a use, and also how we might get our students using them.


This is Julie’s blog 

In the episode we discussed a number of dictionary related things some of the websites we referred to are:


Dictionaries: harmful or helpful 

Are dictionaries becoming obsolete 

The Advent of Electronic Dictionaries in ESL/EFL Learning


Teaching English – advise for using dictionaries

How to use a dictionary effectively 

Using dictionaries in class some lesson ideas 

Teaching ESL Students to Use Dictionaries with Dictionary Games 

A downloadable

British council book on dictionaries and language learning 

An article by David Crystal on the ideal dictionary 


The end of pod activity

As your commute is coming to an end, here is an idea for you to try out in class. Towards the end of the episode, Shaun mentioned the resource book ‘Dictionaries’. One of his favourite dictionary activities is based on one in that.

Before class choose about 10 words, these could be words previously taught in class, ten words you’re going to teach today, 10 words from a reading text you’re going to use in class, you get the idea. In the lesson, you’ll need either a class set of dictionaries or be able to let your students access an online dictionary.

At the start of the lesson, ask your students to take a piece of paper and on it make two columns – column one should be called ‘100 percent sure’ and column two called ‘not sure. Tell them you’re going to say some words and the students have to decide if they know the word or not.  They must try and write the word in one of the columns. Know means they can spell it and know what it means.  If they are 100 percent confident they do, then they write it in column one, if not they write it in column two.

Go through all the words on your list. Once the students have written them down, ask them to compare with each other, helping each other decide the correct spelling and meaning and referring to the dictionary when they need to. Finish the activity by checking the words and meanings together.


Youtube clips used: