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Interactive video lesson plan for: How to Use a Dictionary

Activity overview:

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A dictionary is one of the most valuable tools available for improving your English language skills. Here are some ways to maximize a dictionary's usefulness.

Step 1: Practice using alphabet
Become adept at navigating through the alphabet. The words in the dictionary are arranged in alphabetical order, so it will be easier to find them if you can quickly recognize alphabetic order.

Step 2: Use guide words
Note the guide words at the top of the page. These words identify the first and last entries on the page.

Step 3: Learn abbreviations
Consult the dictionary's front matter for a list of abbreviations and their explanations. Abbreviations may be used for academic fields, stylistic or geographic designations, and etymologies.

Step 4: Recognize similar spellings
Consult the front matter for a list of spellings that can produce a similar sound if you know the pronunciation of a word, but not the spelling. Then check alternate spellings of the word until you find it.

For example, the sound of k in the word "kick" is identical to the sound of c in "call".

Step 5: Identify correct definition
Make sure the definition for the word you are looking up matches the context in which the word was used where you saw it. Words in the dictionary may have more than one meaning, so you shouldn't settle for the first one listed.

Step 6: Learn pronunciation symbols
Consult the dictionary's front matter for a list of pronunciation symbols. Try saying the word after you look at the pronunciation key.

Did You Know?
The first English language dictionary was published in 1604.

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