Scaffolding for content knowledge of home language learning by collaborative online dictionaries

Michele F. Van der Merwe


Dictionaries provide language learners and language users with lexical information and serve as mediating, supporting tools during language learning. Online dictionaries in the form of wikis can be assembled by dictionary users themselves. Their construction (selection of terminology and content of descriptions) in the home language class facilitates learning. During the learning process, dictionary users (university students, in this case) construct new knowledge and meaning based on their own experiences and motivations. The article is based on reflective feedback from a dictionary project undertaken in a faculty of education at a university in the Western Cape. Senior home language students were guided to collaboratively develop an online dictionary of language for specific purposes, thereby improving their communicative skills in addition to their lexical and academic subject vocabulary knowledge. Technology-enhanced language learning was mediated through a task-based language learning process. Data were generated by means of questionnaires that presented students with an opportunity to critically reflect on the use of technology as well as their own construction of knowledge by describing different scaffolding strategies in the selection of vocabulary employed during the process of wiki compilation. Positive results from the study highlight the benefits of appropriate, collaborative use of technology during language learning in a home language class. A new scaffolding model for learning content knowledge in the home language in a technology-enabled environment is proposed in the article.


home language learning; technology-integration; wiki

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Per Linguam

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

ISSN 2224-0012 (online); ISSN 0259-2312 (print)

Powered by OJS and hosted by since 2011.


This journal is hosted by the SU LIS on request of the journal owner/editor. The SU LIS takes no responsibility for the content published within this journal, and disclaim all liability arising out of the use of or inability to use the information contained herein. We assume no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any breaches of agreement with other publishers/hosts.

SUNJournals Help