About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post called A Thorough Guide to How to Use a Dictionary for French Students. I recently created a lesson plan based on it that I have not yet implemented, but I would like to use in my classroom. I believe knowing how to use a dictionary is a valuable skill that needs to be taught, otherwise the effectiveness of the dictionary is greatly diminished. As a teacher of first year French students (7th graders), this is not a lesson I will implement right away (especially since a certain amount of prior knowledge of French grammar is required), but I think in most cases it would be a good lesson to give before doing the first writing assignment or project of the year. Students can use the first page of notes as a sort of "cheat sheet" when they are writing subsequent compositions.
Objective: After the completion of this lesson and with practice, students will be able to effectively use a dictionary to improve their reading and writing skills in the target language.
• SMART Board or non-interactive projector connected to computer
• Website: Wordreference.com
• Guided notes/Paired practice worksheet
• Classroom set of dictionaries
• Distribute guided notes and paired practice to students
• Project guided notes on SMART Board or other projector
• Have student read introduction and explain the importance of the skill of using a dictionary
• Fill in symbols and meanings with students (have them figure them out)
• Have student read context paragraph; clarify the meanings of “context” and “idiomatic expression”
• Have student read agreement paragraph; clarify when a verb or an adjective would have to be changed
• Show WordReference.com, explain how it works
• Let students work on paired practice for 10 minutes before going over it.
• Undoubtedly, the issue of using an online translator will come up. If/when it does:
o State that using a translator to write a paper or an assignment is cheating, and will be treated as such
o State that translators don’t do as good a job as you can with a dictionary, and it is very obvious when they are being used
o Remind students that taking the shortcut of using a translator, besides not being effective, does not give you any practice with the language, and as a result you won’t perform as well in class and on assessments.