Dictionary Webquest

Introduction | Task | The Process & Resources | Conclusion | HyperText Dictionary


In this short-term webquest we're going to study the use of dictionaries and encyclopedias.

One of the most helpful tools for answering questions about words or language is the dictionary.
A dictionary lists words alphabetically. It gives the meaning, spelling, part of speech and pronunciation of words. It often lists multiple definitions and how many syllables a word has. Some dictionaries also give the word origin, antonyms, and may also use the word in a sentence.

A thesaurus is a special word dictionary. It gives synonyms and antonyms for words.

Visit Dictionary.com online! The site includes writing resources… and they even have a thesaurus!

Dictionaries can be monolingual or bilingual.

What can you find in :

  • normal dictionaries and encyclopedias in your library
  • online dictionaries
  • electronic dictionaries

How to make good use of them ?

This webquest helps you to develop basic reference skills that cover all essential aspects of dictionary use:

looking up words in the dictionary understanding pronunciation and stress
using the grammatical information finding and exploring meanings
finding collocations, idioms and phrasal verbs choosing the right word for the context

Question & Task

What will you be doing in this WebQuest?

Choose the full story of an article from

www.telegraph.co.uk Guardian Unlimited
BBCi CNN.com International

        Scan the texts in these sites for unknown words or words you find useful.

The Process and Resources

Use books or websites to find

the meaning (definition), the pronunciation (word stress), a synonym, word class, translation, collocation,an abbreviation or acronym
  1. Where did you find the information ?
  2. Which way of looking up do you prefer ? Why ?
  3. Compare normal dictionaries to online dictionaries

Task 1

You and your partner(s) write the answers on a sheet of paper or better copy and paste in a wordprocessor.
Write a word chart like this (you should not fill in all the columns):

word pronunciation part of speech sample sentence translation related words
meaning, definition only when there's a difficulty noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun a model sentence or collocation Dutch synonyms, antonyms, ...

Task 2

Try to build new words (with some of the words you used in the word chart) : compound words, prefix, suffix, ...

verb noun person adjective adverb ...
to use
use user useful, useless usefully  to abuse, misuse

Task 3

Summarise the general idea of the news article.


Online dictionaries

translations, bi-lingual


Travlang.com/English Dutch/

English to Dutch, Dutch to English


dictionaries, mono-lingual

http://www.longmanwebdict.com/index.html http://www.onelook.com  
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/ http://www.dictionary.com
http://www.wordsmyth.net/ http://www.m-w.com  
http://www.babylon.com http://www.rong-chang.com  
http://dictionary.msn.com/ http://www.thesaurus.com/

online encyclopedias

http://encarta.msn.com/ http://www.encyclopedia.com/


You will be evaluated by individual work and group work

Peer and self-evaluation checklist

  1. Did I or my partner(s) do the task right ?
  2. Did we understand the main ideas ?
  3. Can I use the different forms of dictionaries ?
  4. Do I know the ways how to check spelling by means of dictionaries
    and can I check spellig and grammar in the wordprocessor (Microsoft Word)
  5. Has this webquest improved my vocabulary ?
  6. Are the written paragraphs correct ( spelling, punctuation, tenses, ...)

Group evaluation checklist

  1. Was the cooperation / participation OK ?
  2. What was you role in the group ?


Return to the hook you used in the introduction and help students to see how far they have come in gaining a deeper understanding to a real, gray, challenging topic. You might symbolically relate what they studied to larger issues in the same or different topics. This will help students transfer the subtlety they have gained in this area to other complex issues.

Written by  Christ Bosmans
Last updated 04-02-04 .

Based on Bernie Dodge's WebQuest template.