British Council Seminars
Who needs dictionaries?
How dictionaries are dissolving into the bigger world of ‘Search’?
with Michael Rundell
Tuesday 09 October 2012 | 1830 – 2030
British Council, 10 Spring Gardens, London, SW1A 2BN
Dictionaries are going the same way as encyclopaedias. In just a few years most activity has moved
from paper to electronic media – and for pedagogical dictionaries, whose users are mostly young and
therefore digital natives, the switch from old to new media is even more advanced. Is there any future
Dictionaries evolved to meet specific communicative needs: what does this word or phrase mean? how
do I say it? what’s its equivalent in my language? and how can I use it correctly and idiomatically? But,
although ‘the dictionary’ is a well-embedded cultural artefact there is no particular reason why it should
survive in its present form. It is equally plausible to imagine that its various functions might be better
performed by separate resources, such as automatic translation tools or text-remediation software.
What are the implications for the learning, teaching, and operational use of L2s? The future looks like
being more fragmented than the old one-size-fits-all model. The commonest forms of look-up have
already become subsumed into the larger enterprise of ‘search’, where the starting point is typically
Google, not a dictionary. Even this can be problematic, as many online dictionaries marry cutting-edge
technology with horribly outdated dictionaries. Meanwhile, far more needs to be done to meet the
receptive and productive needs of users in EAP or ESP environments.
The new situation, though unpredictable, is full of opportunities. New technologies, such as
‘adaptive’ systems (which ‘learn’ about the needs and wants of individual users, and adapt
themselves accordingly – think of your Amazon account), offer the possibility that the next
generation of reference tools could be far better than anything we currently call a ‘dictionary’.
Find more information and register your place, free of charge at:
1830 – 1900 Welcome and refreshments
1900 – 2000 Presentation
2000 – 2030 Networking Reception
Please note that there is no charge for attending this seminar, but places are limited.
Registration is open now.
Register for this seminar at http://whoneedsdictionaries.eventbrite.co.uk/