AN ACTIVE DICTIONARY: USER NEEDS AND EXPECTATIONS
This article focuses on user profiling in an active dictionary, i.e. outlining user needs and compiler’s strategies of catering for them. Among the traditional alphabetical dictionaries designed for sporadic consultation in case of coming across an unfamiliar word, there is a growing demand for active dictionaries. The current research is conducted as a part of the PhD project on compiling an Active learner’s construction-combinatory thesaurus (ALCCT) facilitating adult learners in L2 encoding activities. The aim of the present study is to identify the relevant user search questions and formulate the corresponding groups of user needs. The research procedure includes two online-lounged surveys with the participation of 53 and 115 respondents respectively, concerned with: i) most typical difficulties in L2 production and ii) most relevant search questions in a dictionary of L2 encoding tasks. The participants received two questionnaires designed in a simplified manner with no linguistic terminology. The first questionnaire focused on the respondents’ self-assessment of their L2-production skills on the 5-point scale. The second questionnaire offered several blocks of questions, each being introduced with an example of the combinatory thesaurus “SCHOOL”. The relevance of each of the questions was assessed by the subjects based on a gradual scale: from “Yes! Absolutely necessary!” to “No! It is not relevant!” The results of studying the ALCCT intended user expectations made it possible to design a user profile, i.e. identify user age, education, background knowledge and language expertise as well as formulate the three types of user needs: primary – occurring before the usage and concerned with the quantitative and qualitative constraints of the thesaurus registry, secondary – taking part in the process of the usage and tertiary – following from the systematic usage and fostering the development of L2 encoding skills. Concluding discussion calls for revision of the criteria of activeness of the dictionary as a more cognitively oriented learning tool and outlines the future research on the compiler’s strategies of catering for the identified user needs.
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