Vietnamese EFL Students’ Habits of Using Dictionaries in Translation Practice in ESP Courses

Lien Thi My Tong


Doing translation tasks, especially in English-for-Specific-Purposes (ESP) courses, is probably demanding and challenging, which requires students’ utilization of dictionaries and other tools. Thus, this study was conducted to investigate Vietnamese English-as-a-Foreign-Language (EFL) students’ habits of dictionary consultation in ESP translation. The data were collected during a three-week period among 75 third-year EFL students from three classes at University of Languages and International Studies (ULIS), Vietnam National University (VNU) by a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods (i.e. survey questionnaires with a combination of close-ended and open-ended questions). The research highlighted the students’ positive attitudes towards dictionary use together with a high level of its frequency in translating ESP texts, their definite preference for dictionary applications for mobile phones and bilingual dictionaries as well as their prioritized lookups such as equivalents, examples, equivalent usage, and word definitions. In addition, it revealed that the students were confident in their capability of exploiting the dictionaries in ESP translation and thus had little desire for teachers’ assistance and guidance.


dictionaries, ESP courses, translation, Vietnamese EFL students

Full Text:



Abbott, B. B., & Bordens, K. S. (1999). Research design and methods: A process approach (4th ed.). California: Mayfield Publishing Company.

Ahmad, A., & Haq, H. M. (2010). Purpose of dictionary use in professional education: A study of dictionary using habits in medical students. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2, 3988-3993.

Avand, A. Q. (2009). Using translation and reading comprehension of ESP learners. The Asian ESP Journal, 5(1), 44-60.

Boonmoh, A. (2012). E-dictionary use under the spotlight: students’ use of pocket electronic dictionaries for writing. Lexikos, 22, 43-68.

Brown, J. D., & Rodgers, T. S. (2002). Doing second language research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Deshmukh, D. L. (2011). The pivotal role of dictionary in translation. The Criterion: An International Journal in English, 2(1).

Fan, M. Y. (2000). The dictionary look-up behaviour of Hong Kong students: A large-scale survey. Education Journal, 28(1), 123-138.

Haill, R., & Nesi, H. (2002). A study of dictionary use by international students at a British University. International Journal of Lexicography, 15(4), 277-305.

Hartmann, R. R. K., & James, G. (2000). Dictionary of lexicography. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.

Jin, L., & Deifell, E. (2013). Foreign language learners’ use and perception of online dictionaries. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 9(4), 515-528.

Kondal, B. (2018). The benefits of using dictionary skills among the third year pharmacy students. International Journal of Management and Social Sciences Research, 7(11), 1-6.

Laufer, B., & Hill, M. (2000). What lexical information do L2 learners select in a CALL dictionary and how does it affect word retention? Language Learning & Technology, 3(2), 58-76.

Law, W. (2009). Translation students’ use of dictionaries: A Hong Kong case study for Chinese to English translation. Retrieved from

Li, L. (1998). Dictionaries and their users at Chinese universities: With special reference to ESP learners. In T. McArthur, & I. Kernerman (Eds.), Lexicography in Asia – Selected papers from the dictionaries in Asia conference, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 1997

Liang, P., & Xu, D. (2018). An empirical study of EFL learners’ dictionary use in Chinese-English translation. Lexikos, 28, 221-244. Retrieved from

Mahmoud, A. (2017). Should dictionaries be used in translation tests and examinations? English Language Teaching, 10(3), 171-175.

Małgorzata, K. (2016). Dictionary-using skills of translation students. The Central European Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 4, 235-242.

Mallick, G., & Vajendra, K. V. (1999). Researching Education: Perspectives and Techniques. Oxford: Falmer Press.

Nunan, D. (1992). Research methods in language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ramos, M. M. S. (2005). Research on dictionary use by trainee translators. Translation Journal, 9(2).

Tananuraksakul, N. (2015). The effect of online dictionaries usage on EFL undergraduate students’ autonomy. Teaching English with Technology, 15(4), 3-15.

Zhang, R. (2010). Translation of medical research paper titles from Chinese into English based on corpus linguistics. The Asian ESP Journal, special edition, 285-295.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

JELTL (Journal of English Language Teaching and Linguistics); Web:;

Creative Commons License
JELTL by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Indexed and Abstracted BY: