Research Article

Dictionary usage in teaching a mother tongue with reference to Sesotho

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 40, issue 3, 2020 , pages: 335–341
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2020.1855727
Author(s): Tankiso Motjope-Mokhali, Eswatini, Inge M Kosch, South Africa, Munzhedzi James Mafela, South Africa

Abstract

This study investigated the effectiveness of dictionary use in reading and writing Sesotho as a mother tongue. The study was prompted by the fact that some students believe that they do not need dictionaries in a mother tongue class and as a result, Sesotho dictionaries are not used in Lesotho schools. The aim of the study was to determine if there was any significant difference in the students’ performance when reading and writing with or without the assistance of a dictionary. The study employed a communicative-oriented approach. It compared the scores of dictionary users and non-dictionary users for reading comprehension and production of sentences. All 434 (Grade 11) of the participating high school students from the lowlands and the highlands areas of Lesotho were given the same test. The participants were tested on their capability to use the selected words in sentences and on their comprehension of the target words. One group in each of the locations used dictionaries, while the other group answered the questions without the use of dictionaries. Among the dictionary users, some made use of the Sesuto-English Dictionary, which is a bilingual dictionary, while others consulted Sethantšo sa Sesotho, a monolingual dictionary. The study reveals that dictionary usage in a mother tongue language class improved students’ performance significantly as compared to non-dictionary use.

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