kitchen table math, the sequel: ESL teacher on electronic vs. paper dictionaries

Saturday, September 19, 2009

ESL teacher on electronic vs. paper dictionaries

I see a huge difference in my ESL students who use electronic dictionaries versus traditional dictionaries. The electronic ones are fast, but they don’t see as many words. They don’t see variations on a root word.

With a paper dictionary, students browse. Sometimes, instead of reading their novel during silent reading, they want to read the dictionary.

E-books and computers have a place in education and daily living, but they cannot replace paper books.

— Carol

Democratic Group's Proposal: Give Each Student a Kindle

If I had to bet, I would bet this teacher is right. I do lots of reading on screen (which produces eye strain, a problem Kindle technology is intended to solve), I do some reading on an iTouch, and I expect to do lots of reading on my factory-refurbished Kindle.

But I don't expect to see books disappear -- especially not textbooks.


Nikita said...

Catherine, what apps are good for reading on the iTouch? I've just gotten one and am amazed at the potential!


Anonymous said...

Okay, what's the iTouch potential.? I so want to get one, but I have an ipod. I keep thinking I don't need anything else, but the wi-fi part interests me.

What else can it do?


le radical galoisien said...

I disagree about paper dictionaries. There are many electronic dictionaries (try wiktionary) that allow you to see related words, derivatives, rhymes, etc.

And with electronic dictionaries, it's a lot lot more feasible to add all the variations of a root word, and see translations into other languages with radically different inflection and derivation of paradigms.

(Chinese for example doesn't really have "root words" in the Latin affixing style, but it has plenty of other ways of deriving new words from existing words.)

Best of all, electronic dictionaries can be updated. WordReference for example (a foreign language dictionary) has plenty of links to user-generated discussion on the finer elements of idiomatics and usage.

What happens when your language starts fragmenting into dialects? What can you do then? And there can only be so many entries in a paper dictionary.

vlorbik said...

when you've got a dictionary, you've *got* something.

these phones and whatnot?
you pay and pay and pay
and they get worse and worse and worse.

this is obvious.

geez people.