Volume 63, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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The use of a dictionary to solve vocabulary problems during reading has lately become the centre of much interest. In 1998, CITO drew up new guidelines for the modern foreign languages taught at HAVO ('higher secondary general education') and VWO ('Pre-university education') which allowed the use of a dictionary during the final exams in reading comprehension.A next point of discussion is whether MAVO ('lower secondary general education') pupils should also be allowed to use a dictionary during final exams. The present study is an answer to this question and aims to find out if allowing the use of a dictionary during final exams in reading comprehension is indeed in the best interest of MAVO pupils.The literature section deals with vocabulary knowledge and dictionary use in relation to reading comprehension. In this section, the importance of a large vocabulary, the ability to use the context to guess the meanings of unfamiliar words and knowing how to use a dictionary most effectively are emphasised as being inextricably linked with each other and with reading comprehension.Furthermore, an experiment was conducted aimed at determining whether MAVO pupils would in any way benefit from using a dictionary during an English reading comprehension test. Results show that the use of a dictionary does not significandy affect reading comprehension scores and therefore does not result in improved reading comprehension.The reason for this the absence of this effect most likely lies in the absence of a large vocabulary, the inability to guess and the inexperience with dictionary use. Unless the teaching programme deals with these important prerequisites to reading comprehension, there is not much sense in allowing MAVO pupils to use the dictionary, since it does not lead to improved reading comprehension.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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