English Digital Dictionaries as Valuable Blended Learning Tools for Palestinian College Students

  •  Raghad Dwaik    


Digital technology has become an indispensible aspect of foreign language learning around the globe especially in the case of college students who are often required to finish extensive reading assignments within a limited time period. Such pressure calls for the use of efficient tools such as digital dictionaries to help them achieve their academic purposes. Efficient use of such tools, however, would not be possible unless students are familiar with their special features so as to use them to their maximum advantage. This paper investigates the extent to which Palestinian college students are familiar with the features and advantages of different dictionary types especially digital ones. It also probes the effect of using certain activities on the students' level of awareness and dictionary use. A structured interview and a test were applied on a group of 148 Arts and Science students at two local universities. The interview measured the purposes (skills) that these dictionaries are used for and the domains they are used in. At a later stage in the experiment, these students were involved in an eight week activity that required them to use an online dictionary on a daily basis to complete an assignment. After the experiment, it was found that the frequency of dictionary use declined in the case of the print dictionary and increased remarkably in the case of the electronic (CD-Rom) and online dictionaries. It was also found that exposing students to the authentic language available in electronic dictionaries notably enhanced the students' overall language proficiency.

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