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Title: Missing words and missing definitions : NL Arabic speakers' use of EFL dictionaries
Author: Alzi'abi, Safi Eldeen
Awarding Body: University College of Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1995
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Research into EFL learner dictionary use is receiving increasing attention. Most studies, however, focus on learners' reference needs. Only a few studies concern learners' productive use of dictionaries. Thus, we know very little about learners' reference skills and the reasons behind their difficulties in using dictionaries. The scarcity of empirical data about learners' actual use of dictionaries prompts this research. This thesis is an empirical examination of Arabic-speaking learners' actual use of EFL dictionaries for comprehension and production. It endeavours to uncover the root causes of their difficulties in dealing with EFL dictionaries. The thesis begins with a replication of Béjoint's (1981) questionnaire to ascertain whether Arab learners encounter the same problems as others. Three issues are raised: 'missing words', strategies for looking up 'compounds', and 'problematic definitions'. Two studies are carried out to investigate 'missing words'. Problems with missing words are attributed to candidates' apparent failure to locate certain meanings of polysemes, to find compound nouns and to searching for specialised words. Three studies are conducted to investigate strategies for looking up 'compounds'. Failure to look up compounds correctly is attributed to looking up noun-adjective compounds under the noun and noun-noun compounds under the 'meaning-bearer'. Four further studies centre on using dictionary entries for production. Problems with dictionary entries are attributed to the use of synonyms, the use of 'etc', the lack of some collocates and the ambiguity of explanations. Candidates' misinterpretations of meanings play a part. It appears that entries created in line with EFL learners' needs are more effective than traditional dictionary entries.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available