Reconstructing the lexicographical triangle through teaching dictionary literacy to teachers of English


  • Man Lai Amy Chi Hong Kong University of Science and Technology



Pedagogical lexicography, Dictionary use teaching


This paper attempts to establish the need to (re)introduce use of dictionary training into formal EFL teaching. Reference is made to dictionaries for the foreign learners of English (EFL dictionaries), being first conceptualised and compiled as early as the 1930s. The supposition was that the use of dictionary held an integral part in EFL teaching and learning, particularly in vocabulary learning, and that the English teacher would teach students to make full necessary use of the dictionary. Both the EFL dictionary and EFL teaching methodology target the same users. Indeed, prominent EFL lexicographers, during the time like Michael West and A.S. Hornby, were EFL teachers and teacher trainers, who had first-hand experience of students’ learning difficulties and teachers’ teaching needs. Dictionaries like the New Method English Dictionary (1935) targeted mainly Indian learners of English and the Idiomatic and Syntactic English Dictionary (1942) the Japanese mostly. As EFL lexicography and teaching methodologies have been evolving on their own paths in the past decades, the relationship between the two areas has become less dynamic and supportive (complementary). The broken relationship has gravely impacted the use of the dictionary among EFL learners who follow a structured language curriculum. One suggestion to bridge the gap between the dictionary and EFL teachers is to provide training to English language teachers on “dictionary literacy”. When equipped with such knowledge, EFL teachers would be empowered to select and evaluate available English dictionaries to facilitate their own teaching and educate their students to use the dictionary in their learning.


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How to Cite

Amy Chi, M. L. (2020). Reconstructing the lexicographical triangle through teaching dictionary literacy to teachers of English. Lexicography, 7(1-2), 79–95.

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