A dictionary is a very useful resource for ESOL students when learning new English vocabulary. A dictionary not only provides information about word definitions and parts of speech, but it also provides information about the pronunciation of a word, including the phonetic sounds used to correctly produce a word, word stress, and syllable division.
It is important, however, that you teach your ESOL students that in language learning, the English dictionary is not intended to be used as a crutch: Students should not look up every unfamiliar word without actively using their knowledge and cognitive skills to predict spelling, pronunciation, and meanings of words first. Using a dictionary appropriately to confirm these predictions, however, may be quite instrumental and at times necessary to facilitate, rather than impede, the learning of new vocabulary. For example, not all words in English decode perfectly, but 94% closely follow the dictionary pronunciation; therefore, using the dictionary can be a useful tool to confirm students’ pronunciation predictions.