I developed this chart below, to help English as a Second Language (ESL) Students find words in a dictionary faster and with less frustration. I remember learning how to use a dictionary as a child, and it was a slow time consuming process. I remember continually going through my ABC’s in my head for each word, to find its general place in the dictionary, and then in each section.
ESL Students have different needs. For many ESL Students, their goal is learning to converse in English as quickly as possible. Learning ABC’s is a lower priority. However, different Students have different needs. Either way, using the letter and word chart below, speeds up Student’s progress, and takes away some of the frustration.
The row of capital letters is delineated between M and N, roughly representing the middle area of the dictionary.
If wanted, the row of small letters is for the second letter of a word, showing where the word will be in relation to the middle of each section. If used, this binds the top row and the letter/word sequence below it together.
The letter/word sequence shows what word is in the approximate middle position of each section, also split by front-half and back-half.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
A anal B black C cockle D dilate E entwist F flirt
G glam H hex I inflow J jive K kiln L lief
N nicole O oporto P planer Q quartet R reseat S snap
T tipster U unique V vesico W whid X xero Y yelp
Let’s pretend to look up the word, ‘Truck’. Looking at the top row of letters, we see, T is about in the middle of the second half of the dictionary.
Optionally, looking at the small letters, we see the letter r, means Truck will be in the second half of the T section.
Looking at the letter/word sequence, in the T section, we find the word, Tipster. We have reinforced the word Truck, will be in the back half of the T section, after the word Tipster.
While, there is no substitute for learning our ABC’s, using two rows of letters and the letter-word combination, helps relieve a Student’s in class stress, and make the process of using a dictionary easier and faster, until confidence and mastery are achieved.
When introducing the Dictionary and how to use it, I provide a printout of the section above, and I show examples of how it can be used. I hope you will find this concept helpful if you are teaching languages or language arts. I left extra empty space on the top and bottom of the chart in case you want to copy the section for your own use.