Learner Dictionaries

by Linguarama 12. December 2013 11:43

Which dictionary do you use in your language studies? The choice is wide. This post looks at some recent publications – paper-based and online dictionaries (electronic).

Most students own a bi-lingual dictionary. As you progress above intermediate level, you will need a mono-lingual learners’ dictionary. These give you all the definitions in the language you are learning.

The latest English learner’s dictionary to hit the marketplace is The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary  (CALD) Fourth Edition. This contains a system which shows the words and phrases which learners need at different levels (A1, A2, B1, B2) of the Common

Incidentally, the dictionary link Linguarama Connect goes to Cambridge dictionaries. All the ‘Working with …’ vocabulary videos, which focus on word families, word partnerships etc., show you how to use this website effectively.

Online Language Dictionaries

Do you use an online dictionary on your mobile phone or tablet? These days, new and free dictionary apps are appearing all the time. Although there are hundreds of free dictionary apps, I think it is worth paying for an app, since many reputable dictionaries are based on well-researched lexicography and provide the type of information about words that language learners need.

Here are a couple of dictionary apps worth considering:

  • the Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner’s Dictionary app: you can ‘save’ a word, which is a great feature, allowing you to review it easily
  • the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English app: you can hear recordings of the example sentences and build a list of favourites.

With the rise of technology, I often wonder if students will continue to buy paper-based dictionaries. "No" according to one leading lexicographer, who last year announced that Macmillan would cease publishing its paperback dictionary. "Yes" according to another publisher, saying demand for their paperback dictionaries is as high as ever!

I recommend the online dictionary at www.macmillanenglishdictionary.com to many of my students. It provides a model of each word as an audio file. And it’s free!

Whichever format dictionary you use in your language studies - paperback, CD-ROM, web or app – there’s more choice than ever. It often comes down to personal taste. Whichever you choose, my advice is to keep up to date (recent dictionaries incorporate more new words), use a trusted publisher who base their definitions on research.

And, of course, use technology!

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