The dictionary – A treasure waiting to be discovered

FOR MANY, the dictionary is mostly seen but not used. In some instances, not seen even. This rich resource is often neglected and yet once you get familiar with its use, you become alive to the treasure it contains.

It is a vocabulary-enriching tool. By deliberately seeding your conversation with a bigger variety of words, your spoken language is more interesting to others. In the same way, it has the potential to make you a more effective writer.

Make it easy to see and use
But first, you need to make the dictionary more accessible to your children, especially your tweens who are moving beyond the age of visuals into a world of greater text. They will take to a good and relevant dictionary with the increasing number of new words they encounter around them.

Part of your child's life
How do you make the dictionary a part of your child’s life? Besides the important tool that it is, the dictionary must be appreciated as a treasure of daily reference and here are five simple tips to help make it so:

1.      Dictionaries are for regular use. So make sure it is kept in an area where you are most likely to see it to encourage its usage.
2.      When you look up a word in a dictionary, you will be introduced to other new words. Select one of these and extend your search further. This way, you increase the chances that you will recall what you learned.
3.      Check out the neighbourhood of your original search: try reading a few words up and a few down from the word you looked up. This helps to increase your vocabulary.
4.      Always read the etymology (word history/origin) included in the entry you looked up. Though some etymologies won't prove very exciting or valuable to you, every so often there will be one that will amaze you and fill you with the excitement of learning.

5.      Try dictionary activities that are fun but not necessarily 'games' or competitive. Examples:


(a). Try opening the book to where your target word is and see how close you come.
(b). Try covering the headword, read the definition, and guess the word.
(c). Try perusing some pages to find and learn about a word you have never seen before.
(d). Announce a “Word of the Day”.  Encourage its use for a stated time in various contexts.