A More Organic Approach to Encouraging Students to Use the Dictionary

The imperative “Help Students Get the Dictionary Habit” is one of the headings in the 2001 edition of John C. Bean’s book Engaging Ideas, specifically in a chapter called “Helping Students Read Difficult Texts.” Bean goes on to describe the importance of annotating unfamiliar words. Students, he says, should keep a dictionary nearby as they read. Today, of course, students have ready access to dictionaries through their electronic devices. My own institution (and many others, I imagine) offers students and faculty free access to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Access to a first-class dictionary, in short, is not a problem for today’s budding critical readers.

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