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Letters to the Editor
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Spread the Word
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Languages at War
Find out how loan words are
changed in times of conflict

Language Interference
Three words to watch out for:
actual, eventual and important

Focus on Language

Academic Writing:
Writing an Essay — Finding and referencing sources

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New word of the month
Food for thought

Read about new words
based on food

Top Tips for the CD-ROMs
Using SmartSearch for correcting learner errors


Top Tips for the CD-ROMs
Correcting Learner Errors with SmartSearch
by Mairi MacDonald

It's easy to take a pro-active approach to problem words with the Macmillan English Dictionary and the Macmillan Essential Dictionary. Learner error information is located next to entries of those words students frequently have trouble with. You can use the CD-ROMs to extract examples and explanations to help students with confusables such as borrow and lend.

This month's activities are based on the Macmillan English Dictionary CD-ROM, although you can create similar activities using the Essential CD-ROM.

1 Finding the Learner Error notes

Open the SmartSearch window and select More search options.
Then select Part of speech: Verb and Editorial notes: Learner Errors

In the left-hand panel there should be a list of eight verbs: accept, borrow, bring, educate, hear, invent, lay, learn.

Select one of these entries and the learner error box will appear on the right. Click on the Learner Errors box to make it appear in the main window.

Click on Edit and select Copy. Paste the text into any word processing document. Continue with the other seven entries.


You can also search adjectives. This search will give you words such as bored/boring, interested/interesting etc, which are also often confused by students.

2 Activity

The text copied from the learner error information on the CD-ROM can be used as a basis for various class-based activities. In this suggestion, students work out the differences between the confusable verbs by examining them in context. They complete a written record in the form of a definition sheet.

Give each student a definition worksheet.
Hand out the verb cards to half the class.
Cut up the example sentences worksheet and give each person in the other half of the class a set of examples. Each student should now have a definition sheet and either a verb card or set of examples.
Students mingle and find their partner then read the sentences to complete the definition worksheet.
When students have finished, they return the verbs and examples to a chair and select either a new set of verbs or new set of examples, find a new partner and continue until their definition sheet is completed.

3 Creating a follow-up activity

Use TextSearch to find example sentences containing the words studied in the previous activity.

To do this, type in the word you want to find an example for, click on TextSearch and check the box next to Examples and then click on Go.

This will give you all the entries in the dictionary that contain that word. Once you have found a suitable example, copy and paste it into a word document. Blank out the relevant words to create a gap-fill.