Cognitive aspects of problem solving using dictionaries in L2 writing

Inna Kozlova*, Marisa Presas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article reports on the use of dictionaries for L2 text production purposes by first-year ESP students. Research into dictionary use and cognitive studies of L2 writing are combined in this paper to outline the cognitive dimension of a dictionary consultation. Our objective is to focus on the situation in which an information need occurs, with a freshman ESP student as a specific user in mind.
In an attempt to guarantee the relevance of consulting a dictionary, for the purposes of our study we separated the draft stage of a composition from that of its revision. In the latter stage, external resources like dictionaries were made available. Our data suggest that our students were able to detect problems in their writing and reported having improved their compositions after having had the chance to consult dictionaries. The corrections were nonetheless implemented only in one-third of all the problems detected. It was also found that the tentative solution in L2 allowed for monolingual dictionary consultation but students often opted for generating another access key in their native language.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-12
Number of pages11
JournalScripta Manent
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • problem solving
  • search behaviour
  • cognition


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