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High-frequency grammatical lexis in advanced-level English learners' dictionaries: From language description to pedagogical usefulness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-173
Number of pages17
Issue number2
PublishedJun 2006

King's Authors


In this article it is argued that many grammatical items recorded as lexical entries in EFL (English as a Foreign Language) dictionaries should be dealt with in radically different fashion from that which is current practice. Examination of the entries for more than 40 high-frequency closed-class items in the 5 major EFL dictionaries reveals that too much emphasis is placed on detailed linguistic description and too little on didactic usefulness. Two important findings were that (i) polysemic analysis is very thorough but probably counterproductive to the needs of the average dictionary user, and (ii) many entries could be usefully shortened by omitting data already known to the learner. Given the intended 'readership' of the dictionaries, a more pedagogically motivated approach is suggested, and one whereby learners would be encouraged to investigate entries which may otherwise be ignored because of the perceived 'banality' of the word forms in question.

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