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Title: English Digital Dictionaries as Valuable Blended Learning Tools
Authors: Dwaik, Raghad
Keywords: blended, dictionaries, online
Issue Date: Sep-2015
Abstract: Students at higher education institutions around the globe often feel pressured to finish extensive reading assignments for their various courses. Such readings are mostly done in English, the language of instruction at most universities including those in Palestine. One may also argue that a considerable amount of college reading is done online due to the scarcity of print sources at some universities or to the convenience of such sources for saving, compiling and editing materials that would later be used for the purpose of academic writing. Two of the most valuable sources that students utilize when reading online are the electronic (CD-Rom) and online dictionaries. These dictionaries are suitable for the blended learning mode because even if electronic equipment is not readily available inside the classrooms, such dictionaries can be used out of the classroom, in a lab or at a café, to finish reading and writing assignments, build vocabulary and prepare for presentations. All these features and advantages, however, would go to waste unless the students are familiar with them and can utilize them efficiently. When knowing these features, students will take control of their own learning and will be motivated to spend more time navigating and exploring the dictionary which will offer them an unprecedented opportunity to expose themselves to unabridged or authentic language input that will enhance their overall language proficiency. This study, hence, attempts to investigate the current state of Palestinian College students' familiarity with the features of electronic and online dictionaries and to check their purposes for using them. The paper also looks at the domains in which students use electronic dictionaries, i.e., home, classroom or campus. The study also probes the change in the above variables after the students were introduced to a new classroom activity, i.e., "word of the day" which impacted the students' overall language proficiency and their awareness of the special English Language Teaching Vol. 8, No. 11; 2015 2 features of electronic dictionaries.
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