The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of monolingual, bilingual, and bilingualized dictionaries on vocabulary comprehension and production of Iranian EFL learners of English at different proficiency levels. A total number of 270 students at Tabriz Azad University (nine groups of 30 members each) participated in the study. Three groups were elementary, three intermediate, and three advanced level learners. At each level of proficiency, all the three groups were taught the same words, but each group used a different kind of dictionary. At the end of the experimental period, all three groups (at each level) received two posttests, a multiple-choice test and a fill-in-the-blank test. Six independent one-way ‘Analysis of Variance’ (ANOVA) procedures were run to compare the means of the groups on receptive and productive vocabulary tests. Results indicated that different types of dictionaries are appropriate for vocabulary comprehension and production of learners at different levels of proficiency
Key terms: monolingual – bilingual – bilingualized dictionary – vocabulary comprehension – vocabulary production
A dictionary is amongst the first things a foreign language learner purchases (Baxter 1980), and learners carry their dictionaries around, not grammar books. But, there has been a great deal of discussion as to which dictionary type is a better educational tool for foreign learners; monolingual, bilingual or bilingualized. The question sounds simple, but the answer is not. Baxter prefers his students to use a monolingual dictionary. Snell-Hornby (1991) has a similar preference. But, Atkins (1985) believes that learners prefer L2-L1 bilingual dictionaries because they satisfy learners’ immediate needs. A fairly recent development is bilingualized or semi-bilingual dictionaries. Nakamoto (1995) states that the bilingualized dictionary combines explanations in L2 with translation equivalents. Thus, it should satisfy both language teachers who insist that foreign learners should use dictionaries of the target language and learner-users who complain that such monolingual dictionaries are too difficult.
There is almost a paucity of research on the effects of these three types of dictionaries on vocabulary comprehension and production in Iran. Of course, Hayati and Fattahzadeh (2006) investigated the effects of monolingual and bilingual dictionaries on vocabulary recall and retention of EFL learners and concluded that the bilingual dictionary seemed more beneficial when there was time limitation. Hayati and Pour Mohammadi (2005) investigated the effect of monolingual and bilingual dictionaries on reading comprehension and found bilingual dictionaries more effective. However, these studies did not include the bilingualized dictionary. The present study aims to assess the effectiveness of monolingual, bilingual, and bilingualized dictionaries on Iranian elementary, intermediate, and advanced learners’ vocabulary comprehension and production. It aims to find answers to the following research questions:
1. Which dictionary type is most suitable for elementary level learners’ vocabulary comprehension?
2. Which dictionary type is most suitable for elementary level learners’ vocabulary production?
3. Which dictionary type is most suitable for intermediate level learners’ vocabulary comprehension?
4. Which dictionary type is most suitable for intermediate level learners’ vocabulary production?
5. Which dictionary type is most suitable for advanced level learners’ vocabulary comprehension?
6. Which dictionary type is most suitable for advanced level learners’ vocabulary production?
A Dictionary is amongst the most useful tools for language learners. Wang (2007) states that “dictionaries for a foreign language learner are just maps in a tourist’s hand. A language learner has to know how to use a dictionary…” (p. 15). Wang (2007:18) also refers to Summers (1988), who concludes that dictionaries can help students learn words because they: (1) present a powerful analytic tool in organizing language, (2) provide differentiation from other similar words, which are necessary for accurate comprehension, (3) help fix new vocabulary in the memory by drawing the user’s attention to opposites or words with close meaning.
According to Gu (2005), further evidence of the usefulness of a dictionary for ESL/EFL students can be found in Summers (1988), who reported the results of three experiments done on the effectiveness of the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English both in reading comprehension and in vocabulary learning. The first two experiments focused on reading comprehension and found that comprehension was significantly improved by the use of the dictionary. The results of the third experiment suggested that the mix of definition plus example in the dictionary entry was the most successful, and that the use of the dictionary in all conditions tested was more conducive to the successful production of new words in sentences.”(p. 8).
A number of studies have been conducted on the effects of dictionaries on different aspects of language learning. For example, Knight (1994) reports that dictionary use has a facilitating effect on one’s reading comprehension.
Wang (2007) refers to Hulstijn, Hollander, & Greidanus, (1996), who showed that dictionary use resulted in longer retention of new words. They investigated students’ L2 incidental vocabulary learning in three text-reading conditions: Marginal glosses, Dictionary, or Control. Their study revealed that the provision of marginal glasses resulted in much better retention scores than the provision of dictionaries, and students in dictionary group seldom used their dictionary. They added that “when students in dictionary group did look up a word, their chance of remembering its meaning was greater than the average retention in the marginal glosses group.” (p.17).
Hustijn’s (1993) study led to the following conclusions: 1) the FL readers did not look up the meaning of all words with which they were unfamiliar, not even the meaning of all relevant words (a mean score of 3.4 = 85 percent), even though subjects were working under no time pressure at al, and even though looking up a word’s meaning had been made an extremely simple and quick task with the aid of computer; 2) the translation look-up behavior of the subjects was far from random. Subjects were capable of reading a FL text in a strategic manner, not looking up all unfamiliar words in an uncritical fashion, but deciding on the relevance, and to a lesser extent the inferability of unfamiliar words in relation to their reading goal before taking or not taking action, 3) FL readers in the study reached their reading goals not by following different routes. Thus some went through the text once, others a maximal strategy. Yet, these process differences were not related to qualitative differences in the product (answers to the comprehension questions).
A monolingual dictionary is a kind of dictionary which provides detailed and precise information about the words in L2. More importantly, since monolingual dictionaries present their information in L2, they cause learners or users to think in L2. But, they also have some shortcomings. For example, they are often difficult to use for a beginner. Another problem, cited in Speranza (1998), is that the user is often unable to retrieve the word he needs.
Stein (1989) mentions three characteristics of EFL monolingual dictionaries. They include “(a) the explanations of meanings, (b) specification of a word’s grammatical behavior, and (c) the illustration of meaning and the syntactical use of a word with real language examples. Stein recommends monolingual dictionaries for advanced learners. Similarly, Koren (1997) prefers monolingual dictionaries mainly because bilingual dictionaries do not handle meaning distinctions of equivalent translation well.
Atkins (1985:22) uses a metaphor and states that “Monolinguals are good for you (like whole meal bread and green vegetables); bilinguals (like alcohol, sugar and fatty foods) are not, though you may like them better.” According to Bejoint (1981: 219) “Students still use their monolingual dictionaries primarily for decoding activities.” Atkins (1985) acknowledges the drawback of monolingual dictionaries and states that students in interviews point out that English definitions in monolingual dictionaries are not easy to understand and they have to consult more new words in order to workout the meaning.
Many researchers such as (Baxter, 1980) prefer their students to use the monolingual dictionary. One of the reasons for the educators’ preference for the monolingual dictionary is that bilingual dictionaries are counterproductive because there is not a one-to-one correspondence between the words of the two languages.
Lew (2000) conducted a study on how Polish learners of English rate bilingual and monolingual dictionaries. Data for the paper came from 712 polish learners of English representing a broad range of EFL proficiency levels. Subjects were asked to rate two dictionaries: their dictionary of first choice and their dictionary of second choice. What the results showed was that monolingual dictionaries were given significantly higher ratings than bilingual dictionaries.
The entire notion of bilingual dictionary involves providing equivalents to the lexical units of one language by the lexical units of another language i.e. “coordinating with lexical units of one language those lexical units of another language which are equivalent in their lexical meaning.”(Zgusta, 1971 : 274).
Marcello (1998) states that “in the late 1970s, the use of English monolingual dictionaries were well-established in the classes for advanced students. Bilingual dictionaries, however, were preferred by beginners and students attending elementary courses.” (p. 309).
There are a number of studies conducted in the realm of bilingual dictionaries. Ard (1982) studied how ESL students in a high-intermediate-level writing class used bilingual dictionaries and found that some of the students’ writing errors were induced by the use of the bilingual dictionary and that this was related to the differences between L1 and L2.
Thompson, (1987) compares monolingual and bilingual dictionaries and concludes that “for learners below the level of advanced, the bilingual dictionary can do all the useful things that the monolingual dictionary can do; and it can do several of the things in a more efficient and more motivating way.” (p. 286).
Luppescu & Day (1993: 263) investigated the effect of the use of bilingual dictionaries on vocabulary learning while reading. For this, 293 Japanese university students studying English as a foreign language attended the study. The result of the study showed that students who used dictionary scored significantly better on vocabulary tests than students who did not use a dictionary. They state, however, that evidence appeared for differential item functioning: some items were harder for the group that used dictionaries. A possible explanation for this tendency is that students who were unable to locate the appropriate gloss in the dictionary were misled as to the meaning of the word. They conclude that bilingual dictionaries may have a beneficial effect on vocabulary learning, but there are some trade-offs: their use results in lower reading speed, and may confuse the learner, especially when there are a large number of entries under the headword from which to choose.
Hayati & Fattahzadeh (2006) examined the effect of monolingual and bilingual dictionaries on vocabulary recall and retention of EFL learners. For this purpose, 100 Iranian students studying English as a foreign language at Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz were asked to take part in an experiment. The major results included the following:
1. There is no significant difference between two dictionary-use groups in vocabulary
recall and retention.
2. The use of bilingual dictionary while reading can facilitate the learning of
vocabulary while EFL students are under time pressure.
3. The monolingual dictionary helps its users to process the words deeply, for
retention purposes only when time is not limited.
Two important by-products of this study were as follows: first, in both groups, the number of words decreased by the passage of time. Second, the performance of the monolingual group, contrary to the bilingual one, did not show a significant difference in the interval between the two tests.
Hayati & Pour Mohammadi (2005) conducted another research, the purpose of which was to investigate the impact of bilingual and monolingual dictionaries on reading comprehension of intermediate EFL students. The participants in the experiment were 45 intermediate EFL students studying at Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz. They had been screened out from a larger population by means of a proficiency test. Then they were divided into three equal groups: bilingual group (BG), monolingual group (MG), and control group (CG) and took the same reading comprehension test but each group used a different strategy. That is, the BG used only bilingual dictionary, the MG used only monolingual dictionary, and the CG could take advantage of guessing ability and contextual cues with no reference to any kind of dictionary. They concluded that the performance of students using bilingual dictionary was not significantly different from those who used the monolingual one. They advise the learners of English not to resort to a bilingual dictionary except as a last resort.
Another study by Laufer & Levitzcky-Aviad (2006), showed the superiority of the bilingual dictionary to the other types. They sought to investigate whether there was a difference in the usefulness of various types of dictionaries for correct word usage. 75 students who represented four English proficiency levels participated in the study. The result demonstrated the superiority of the bilingual dictionary over the other dictionaries. Both the paper and electronic versions proved to be effective, yielding 80% of correct translations altogether, 98% on the simple words, and 70% on the complex words. The results were significantly better than the results achieved with the other dictionaries.
Raudaskoski (2002) in his paper about bilingualized dictionary points out that:
The bilingualized dictionary is, of course, the supposedly happy marriage of the two above- mentioned paradigms. It contains the L2 definitions and examples of the monolingual dictionary and the easy-to-use L1 equivalents of the bilingual dictionary. The emphasis in the entries is on the L2 material, and for this reason the equivalents are often called ‘keys’, as they are rather aids for understanding than stand-alone translations of the headword. The user is supposed to turn the definitions and examples first, and if the meaning of the headword still remains somewhat unclear, the key is there to provide clarification and reassurance (cf. Reif, 1987). …. In short, the bilingualized dictionary can be seen as an all-in-one solution to the needs of a learner’s dictionary users. (p. 2)
Kernerman (1994) expressed one of the advantages of the bilingualized dictionaries: “an important feature of the semi-bilingual dictionary is its simplicity of design and format which eliminates the need to explain how to use it.” (p. 2). Nakamoto (1995) compares monolingual and bilingual dictionaries. Then, he tries to distinguish the bilingualized dictionary and shows the superiority of this kind of dictionary to the other types. He points out that:
Against this background of mono- and bilingual learners’ dictionaries and their contested merits and demerits, a new type of learners’ dictionary has recently appeared. It is called ‘bilingualized’, ‘semi- bilingual’, ‘glossed’, ‘hybrid’, or ‘translated’ (cf. Hartmann, 1994 and forthcoming). It is usually partially (only occasionally thoroughly) translated from a monolingual learners’ dictionary into the intended users’ mother tongue. They are different from monolinguals because they supply translation equivalents and also from bilinguals because they provide semantic equivalents (definitions) of the original text. (p. 3)
It is important to note that translation equivalents given in a bilingualized dictionary are intended to play a different role from those given in a bilingual dictionary. Basically, they are keys for the L2 definitions in the former, while immediately insertable elements in the latter. Nakamoto (1995: 5) quotes Atkins (1985: 22) who imagined, a hybrid dictionary could conceivably bridge the present gulf between the bilingual and the monolingual; by crossing the bridge of the bilingualized dictionary, the learner would no longer have to jump form the bilingual to the monolingual.
Nevertheless, the bilingualized dictionary has attracted some criticisms. According to Zofgen (1991), these so-called semi-bilingual learner’s dictionaries are insufficient with regard to the standards which ought to be set for a true bilingual learner’s dictionary.
Laufer & Kimmel (1997) conducted a study to see whether the learners read the English part, the translation, or both intended by the producers of the bilingualized dictionary. Seventy EFL learners participated in the experiment. The two research questions were: 1) “Is there a significant difference between the frequencies of three types of look-up patterns within the same individuals?” The three patterns were: consulting the L1 part of the entry only, consulting the English part of the entry only, and consulting both the English and the L1 parts of the entry. 2) “What is the distribution of “individualized look-up patterns” in the two groups consulting the entry throughout the entire test: reading the L1 part only, the English part only, or both parts?” (P:361) The findings showed that people use dictionary information in different ways. The bilingualized dictionary seemed to cater for a variety of look-up possibilities and individual preferences and this type of dictionary was very effective as it was found to be compatible with all of types of individual preferences.
Laufer and Hadar (1997) examined the effectiveness of three types of dictionaries (monolingual, bilingual, and bilingualized) in the comprehension and production of new words by EFL learners. The participants were two groups of EFL learners, altogether 123 learners. One group consisted of 76 high school learners at the end of the eleventh grade; the second group was a group of 46 EFL university students, non-English majors. The results indicated that the three types of dictionaries had different effects with individual dictionary users. For comprehension, all three types of learners received the best scores when using the bilingualized dictionary. However, while the unskilled users benefited from a bilingual dictionary more than from a monolingual one, the opposite was true of the average and good users. As to production, for the unskilled dictionary users, monolingual dictionaries were the second best; they produced better results than the bilingual dictionaries. The bilingualized dictionaries yielded the highest scores; though the differences among the three dictionaries were not statistically significant. They concluded that “bilingualized dictionaries are a step in the right direction. They provide more information than monolingual or bilingual dictionaries” (p. 193).
Pujol, et al. (2006) examined print deferred bilingualized dictionaries and their implications for effective language learning. The research presented a new kind of bilingualized dictionary, the ‘print deferred bilingualized dictionary’, in which users did not encounter translations immediately, as is the norm in other print (immediate) bilingualized dictionaries. Rather, in this new type of dictionary, translations are deferred. This avoids the users’ skipping of monolingual L2 definitions, and reading only the bilingual translations. The findings of the study showed that:
With respect to print immediate bilingualized dictionaries, print deferred bilingualized dictionaries relocate translation in two senses: physically (translations do not appear immediately after the monolingual L2 definition), and hierarchically (if translations are needed, they are looked up after, not before, the L2 text).
Print deferred bilingualized dictionaries separate the monolingual L2 from the bilingual L2→L1 part but at the same time keep them interrelated by means of numbers. In this way, print deferred bilingualized dictionaries encourage users to consult both parts, and so users may take advantage of the two types of dictionaries, a synergy that may help increase the effectiveness in learning new words. Print deferred bilingualized dictionaries thus avoid the minimizing effect on the monolingual part caused by the simultaneous presence (in print immediate bilingualized dictionaries) of a monolingual and a bilingual dictionary.
Print deferred bilingualized dictionaries are Janus-faced, that is, they look in two directions at once: they not only provide bilingual L1→L2 equivalents, but also direct the user towards the monolingual L2 part. In this way, print deferred bilingualized dictionaries not only integrate within a single volume three types of dictionaries (something which print immediate bilingualized dictionaries already do), but they also manage to interrelate them. (pp. 210-11).
Raudaskoski (2002) compared how well Finnish senior secondary school students make use of the information available to them in the representatives of two dictionary archetypes, the bilingual dictionary, and the bilingualized dictionary. The test described in the study was devised to determine which type of dictionary, bilingual or bilingualized, would be more helpful to a completely untutored user working in an actual textual environment. The test groups comprised twenty Finnish senior secondary school students. The students were divided into two groups of ten, one using a bilingualized dictionary and the other using a bilingual dictionary. The test was completed twice, once without dictionary and once with a chance to make use of dictionary. The author concluded that “Examinations of the test scores revealed that the bilingualized dictionary users improved their performance from the first (non-dictionary) round more than the bilingual dictionary users. It can be said that despite all the translation errors caused by poor use of the bilingualized dictionary and its index, the test group made better use of it than the bilingual dictionary.” (p. 10). He added that the main lesson learned from the test results is that effective dictionary use requires some rudimentary skills and the healthy attitudes towards dictionaries.
A total number of 270 Iranian B.A. students majoring in English at Tabriz Azad University participated in this study. They were assigned to 9 groups. Each group consisted of 30 learners. All the students were adults, both males and females, and differed in terms of age. Participants were divided into 3 levels of proficiency; elementary, intermediate, and advanced. In each level, 3 groups were randomly selected to utilize one of the three kinds of dictionaries: learner’s monolingual, bilingual, and bilingualized. The distribution and characteristics of the participants of the study are summarized in table3.1.
Table 1. Distribution of the participants
Materials & Instruments
The materials and instruments used in this study include the following:
A. Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary (English- English monolingual dictionary).
This dictionary was utilized by three groups out of nine in the three levels of proficiency.
B. English–Persian Bilingual Dictionary (Hezareh). This dictionary presents the equivalent of the English (L2) word in Farsi (L1). This type of dictionary was employed by three groups out of nine in the three levels of proficiency.
C. Bilingualized Dictionary (English-English-Persian Dictionary). It is the combination of bilingual and monolingual dictionaries. The remaining three groups utilized this kind of dictionary.
D. The vocabulary subtest of the Michigan proficiency test. This test was used to determine the validity of the post-test.
E. Two post tests (multiple choice test and fill-in-the-blank test). The multiple-choice test was employed to measure students’ comprehension of new words. The fill-in-the-blank test was utilized to test students’ vocabulary production.
F. BJ Thomas series (elementary, intermediate, and advanced vocabulary). The selected words for each level of proficiency were chosen from the above-mentioned series.
G. 1100 words you need to know. Most of the selected words for the advanced level learners were chosen from this book
The elementary, intermediate, and advanced level students were given different sets of words in accordance with their proficiency level. These words were given to the learners as a pre-test. During the pre-test, it turned out that some words were known for some students, so the known words were substituted by other new words. During the research, 15 words from those 120 words were taught every session utilizing three types of dictionaries; monolingual; bilingual and bilingualized. That is, in group one at the level of elementary, these words were taught using a monolingual dictionary. For group two in this level, bilingual dictionary was utilized, and bilingualized dictionary was used for group three. Generally, 120 chosen words were taught by the three types of dictionaries for the three groups at the elementary level. The same was done for the intermediate and advanced levels. After this interval of teaching, students took two types of test. One was a comprehension test in multiple-choice form and the other one was a production test in fill-in-the-blank form. These two posttests were part of the students’ post teaching activities.
To assess the learners’ comprehension, a multiple-choice test was given to each of the nine groups at three levels of proficiency. The questions were designed on the basis of the 120 new words which were taught in the classes. Each test consisted of 30 multiple-choice questions. For each item, the participants were given 30 seconds to respond to. To assess the learners’ production of the new words, the students were presented with the production test, which consisted of 30 fill-in-the-blank items.
Before administering the posttests, they were validated. Using a correlational procedure and the vocabulary subtest of the Michigan proficiency test, the validity of the receptive and productive tests were estimated and they turned out to be .73 and .65, respectively. The KR-21 formula for reliability estimation also gave the reliability indices of .69 and .62 for the receptive and productive tests, respectively.
The data obtained from the administration of the two posttests were then subjected to statistical analyses.
Since in each of the research questions, there was one independent variable (dictionary type) with three levels, a One-Way Analysis of Variance was utilized for each question. Therefore, altogether, six One-Way ANOVA procedures were used. It needs to be noted that since there were significant differences among the groups in the elementary level, the post-hoc Scheffe’ test was also utilized to locate the differences between means.
The first research question sought to investigate which dictionary type was most suitable for the elementary-level learners’ comprehension of new words. The descriptive statistics, computing the mean, standard deviation, etc. yielded the following results:
Table.2 The descriptive statistics needed for the ANOVA procedure
|Level||N||Mean||Std. Deviation||Std. Error|
As it can be seen in the table, the group that used the bilingualized dictionary has the highest mean (= 23.2333), followed closely by the group that used the bilingual dictionary (=23.0333). The monolingual group has got a considerably lower mean (=17.2000).
In order to see whether or not the differences between the means are statistically significant, the one-way ANOVA procedure was run. The results of the ANOVA procedure are given in table 3.
Table 3. The result of the ANOVA on elementary learners’ comprehension
|Level: Elementary||Sum of Squares||df||Mean Square||F||Sig|
|comprehension Between Groups|
According to table 3, since the F-value of 11.785 is statistically significant (Sig.=.000), we can safely claim that there are significant differences between the means of the groups. To locate the differences between the means, a post–hoc Scheffe’ test procedure was run, which yielded the results summarized in table 4.
Scheffe’. Table 4. Results of the multiple comparisons of means
|LEVEL Dependent ( I ) Group (G) group|
|Elementary Comprehension BLD ML||6.0333||1.41181*||.000|
A look at table 4 makes it clear that although the differences between the bilingual and bilingualized groups is not statistically significant, they are both significantly better than the monolingual dictionary group. To see the effect size, the strength of association was also computed and the omega2 (ω2) turned out to be 0.1395. The graphic representation of the results (Graph 1) shows the differences between the groups more conspicuously noticeable.
Graph 1. The elementary level learners’ comprehension
The second research question investigated which type of dictionary was suitable for elementary-level learners’ production of new words. Table 5 shows the descriptive statistics, measuring the mean, standard deviation, and standard error of measurement.
Table 5. The descriptive statistics needed for the ANOVA procedure
| .63246 |
A look at the mean scores of the groups shows that the BLD dictionary yielded the highest mean (=15.0000). The ML dictionary group achieved the second best result with the mean of (=12.9000), and the BL dictionary has the lowest mean (=11.8333). In order to see whether or not the differences between the means are statistically significant, the one-way ANOVA procedure was used. The results of the ANOVA are shown in table 6.
Table 6. The result of the ANOVA on elementary learners’ production
|Elementary Between Groups|
Production Within Groups
According to table 6, since the F-value of 4.986 is not statistically significant (Sig.=.09), one can claim that there are not any significant differences among the means of the groups. So, the proposed null hypothesis is supported. Graph 2 clearly shows the elementary-level learners’ performance on the production test. According to the above explanations and tables, it is suggested that the use of the bilingualized dictionary tends to produce better results and there is a trend that the type of dictionary may influence the students’ performance and lead to an improvement of Iranian EFL students’ production abilities. However, the bilingualized dictionary was not significantly better than the two other types of dictionaries.
Graph 2. The elementary level learners’ production
The third research question wanted to see which dictionary type was most suitable for the intermediate-level learners’ vocabulary comprehension. Table 7 contains the summary of the descriptive statistics.
Table 7. The descriptive statistics needed for the ANOVA procedure
|Intermediate ML Comprehension BLD|
As it can be seen in table 7, students using the bilingualized dictionary scored the highest mean (= 23.96), followed by those who used the monolingual dictionary (=23.43), with those who utilized the bilingual dictionary (=20.10) coming last. In order to see if there is any significant difference between the means of the groups, the one-way ANOVA procedure was run. The results of the ANOVA procedure are given in table 8.
Table 8. Result of the ANOVA on intermediate learners’ comprehension
|Intermediate Between Groups|
Comprehension Within Groups
|263.467 4277.033 4540.500||2|
As it can be observed, the F- value of 2.680 is not statistically significant (Sig.=074). So, it can be concluded that there are no significant differences among the means of the groups and the developed null hypothesis proposed for the third question is supported. The graphic representation of the result (graph 3) makes the result more easily noticeable. As the graph shows, the bilingualized dictionary users achieved the best score, followed by monolingual and bilingual groups, respectively.
Graph 3. Intermediate level learners’ comprehension
The fourth question investigated the effect of dictionary type on the intermediate-level learners’ vocabulary production. Table 9 shows the summary of the descriptive statistics.
Table 9. The descriptive statistics needed for the ANOVA procedure
According to the table, the highest mean score was achieved by the bilingualized dictionary users with a mean of (= 16.76). The monolingual dictionary users scored second best with a mean of (=16.46). The bilingual dictionary users got the lowest mean score (=14.26). The one-way ANOVA procedure was run to compare the means of the groups. The results of the ANOVA procedure are summarized in table 10.
Table 10. The result of the ANOVA on intermediate learners’ production
|Intermediate Between Groups|
Production Within Groups
Table 10 shows that F- value of 1.324 is not statistically significant (Sig. =.271). According to the statistics above, it is proved that there are no significant differences between the means of the groups and that the null hypothesis is supported. Graph (4) shows the superiority of the bilingualized dictionary to other two types of the dictionaries, although the differences between the means are not significant.
Graph 4. Intermediate level learners’ vocabulary production
The fifth research question sought to investigate which dictionary type is more suitable for the advanced learners’ comprehension of new words. In table 11, contains the descriptive statistics.
Table 11. The descriptive statistics needed for the ANOVA procedure
A glance at the table 11 indicates that the bilingual dictionary has the highest mean (=13.13). The group who used the bilingualized dictionary has the second highest mean (=12.23). The worst mean was achieved by the group who used the monolingual dictionary (=10.73). The one-way ANOVA was run in order to find out whether or not the differences between the means of the groups are statistically significant. Table 5(b) shows the results of the ANOVA procedure.
Table 12. The result of the ANOVA on advanced learners’ comprehension
|Advanced Between Groups|
Comprehension Within groups
According to table 12, The F-value of 1.851 is not statistically significant (Sig.=.163).Therefore, we may conclude that there are no significant differences between the means of the groups. So that the proposed null hypothesis is supported. There is a trend that the advanced–level learners can better comprehend words when using the bilingual dictionary. The graphic representation of the result (graph 5) shows the differences between the groups more noticeably.
Graph 5. Advanced learners’ vocabulary comprehension
The sixth research question investigated the effect of dictionary type on the advanced learners’ vocabulary production. The descriptive statistics are summarized in table 13.
Table 13. The descriptive statistics needed for the ANOVA procedure
As it can be seen in table 13, the group who utilized the bilingual dictionary have the highest mean (= 11.33) followed by the group who used the monolingual dictionary with the mean of (= 8.90). The bilingualized dictionary group has got the lowest mean (= 8.46). Again, the one-way ANOVA procedure was run to see whether or not the differences between the means are statistically significant. The result of the analysis is provided in table 14.
Table 14. The result of the ANOVA on advanced learners’ production
|Advanced Between Groups|
Production Within Groups
According to table 14, the F-value of 3.042 is not statistically significant (Sig.=053). Since there are no significant differences between the means of the groups, the null hypothesis is supported. Graph 6 shows the differences between the groups in a more easily understandable way.
Graph 6. Advanced learners’ vocabulary production
Graph 6 clearly shows that although the differences between the means of the three groups is not statistically significant, there is a strong trend that the bilingual dictionary is more conducive to advanced learners’ vocabulary production than the other two types.
Conclusions and Discussions
The summary of the findings of the present study is as follows. (The sign > stands for’ better than’ and *> for ‘significantly better than’):
For elementary level learners’ vocabulary comprehension:
Bilingualized >bilingual>* monolingual
For elementary level learners’ vocabulary production:
For intermediate level learners’ vocabulary comprehension:
Bilingualized> bilingual> monolingual
For intermediate level learners’ vocabulary production:
Bilingualized> monolingual> bilingual
For advanced learners’ vocabulary comprehension:
Bilingual> bilingualized> monolingual
For advanced learners’ vocabulary production:
Bilingual> monolingual > bilingualized
What the above results mean is that the highest scores were almost obtained when the bilingualized dictionary was used. Regarding vocabulary comprehension, elementary and intermediate students better comprehended the new words with the aid of bilingualized dictionary. Only advanced learners better comprehended words using the bilingual dictionary. As to vocabulary production, elementary and intermediate students better produced the new words with the aid of the bilingualized dictionary. Again, only advanced students produced new vocabularies using the bilingual dictionary. On the basis of these results, it is concluded that various kinds of dictionaries are appropriate for vocabulary comprehension and production of learners at different levels of proficiency.
As it can be noticed, some of the findings of the present study are in line with previous findings. Elementary level learners (in this and other studies) find bilingualized dictionaries useful for both vocabulary comprehension and production partly because of their inability to make the most of monolingual dictionaries but, probably also because of the dual-coded presentation of information both in L1 and L2. The latter explains the superiority of bilingualized dictionaries to bilingual ones.
Intermediate level learners also find bilingualized dictionaries most useful for similar reasons. However, between the bilingual and monolingual dictionaries, apparently there are differential preferences for receptive and productive purposes. They prefer bilingual dictionaries for comprehension and monolingual dictionaries for production. This finding somehow contradicts previous findings. As Speranza (1998) noted, one of the basic problems of the monolingual dictionaries is that the user is often unable to retrieve the word s/he needs. On the other hand, a major disadvantage of bilingual dictionaries is that there is not a one-to-one correspondence between the words of the two languages. Therefore, learners are expected to prefer bilingual dictionaries for vocabulary production due to the greater access they have to the exact words they intend to use, and monolingual dictionaries for comprehension, where they find more accurate definitions for the words. Interestingly, the present findings imply the opposite.
Another interesting result of the present study is that the advanced level learners achieved the best results both in comprehension and production using the bilingual dictionary. Given the findings of previous studies, this seems unusual; most of the previous studies have shown that monolingual dictionaries are more suitable for advanced learners. This might be partially accounted for by the fact that the greater awareness of advanced learners of the more detailed and subtle properties of words, such as connotations, collocations, etc. forces the learners to be more cautious, especially in the production of words. While lower-proficiency-level learners are satisfied with knowledge of the general meaning of words, advanced learners tend to take care to make sure that the target word they intend to use has the exact meaning they want to express. Or in translation, they exercise great care to use an exact equivalent for an L1 word. Because of this, they show a preference for the use of a bilingual dictionary.
The findings of the present study can have implications for both teachers and learners. By suggesting an appropriate dictionary type, teachers can help their students to comprehend and produce vocabulary as effectively as possible and improve the speed of learning new words. Likewise, using suitable dictionary types, students will be able to learn new entries quickly. This also increases students’ abilities in comprehension and production of unknown words, and makes them more efficient learners.
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Abbas Ali Zarei is a Ph.D holder in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. He was born in 1972 in Qazvin, Iran, graduated from highschool in 1990. In 1994, he got his BA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from the University for Teacher Education in Tehran. He got his MA and PhD, both in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from Tehran University and Isfahan University in Iran in 1996 and 2002, respectively. He is currently a member of academic staff as well as the dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Imam Khomeini International University (IKIU) in Qazvin, Iran. His main area of interest is vocabulary learning and the factors influencing it. He has written and published 14 books and translated four others. He has also had eleven articles published, mostly in the area of vocabulary learning.