What dictionary should I use?

We know you are all getting ready to start up the school in about one month. You are probably sharpening your pencils, cleaning out your book bags and reviewing your notes from past classes.

There is one very important tool every student should have when starting ESL classes; every good language student needs a good dictionary.

There are a lot to choose from and students may be overwhelmed by so many options.

We have some tips and suggestions to help you find the right dictionary:

Bilingual dictionaries are great. English learner dictionaries are better! You are all English learner’s, unless you are  you a complete beginner you should have a good English learner dictionary.

Pronunciation is important! Does the dictionary help you pronounce words in a way you can understand and make sense of. Some may look like this; /pruh-nuhn-see-ey-shuhn/ (spelled pronunciation) or like this; /prəˌnʌnsiˈeɪʃən/ (International Phonetic Alphabet). IPA may be used by more people, but Spelled Pronunciation may be easier to understand, which do you feel more comfortable with?

Illustrations all over? Would you rather have a dictionary that had some pictures in it that helped you to understand difficult words, or is it more important that your dictionary fits as many words as possible in the book?

Just words? Do you want your dictionary to only contain vocabulary words, or do you want it to have things like some famous names (Presidents, Celebrities, Artists), Phrasal Verbs (show up, fall apart, rough up) and maybe some maps and weight and measurement conversion charts?

These are just a few things to think about when getting the right dictionary.

Click below to read about some of the most popular learner dictionaries. There are also links to help you shop for cheap (from http://esl.about.com/od/engilshvocabulary/tp/tp_dict.htm).

And don’t forget to comment and let us know what dictionary you like to use and any computer or phone apps that help you learn and practice English

1. Longman Learner’s Dictionary of American English

Longman is the very best for students learning English to study, live and work in North America. This dictionary provides lots of handy reference materials, special in-depth looks at issues such as idioms, phrasal verbs and more.

2. American Heritage Dictionary for Learners of English

The American Heritage® Dictionary for Learners of English is especially designed to suit the needs of ESL students. With an up-to-date word list and definitions adapted from The American Heritage® Dictionary databases, abundant sample sentences and phrases, and an easy-to-use alphabetic pronunciation system all provide an excellent learning tool.

3. Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

The standard in British English, the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary provides the ideal tool for English learners who wish to take any of the Cambridge advanced exams (FCE, CAE and Proficiency). Dictionary includes a learning CD-ROM with helpful resources and exercises.

4. Oxford Elementary Learner’s Dictionary of English

For lower level learners, the Oxford Elementary Learner’s Dictionary of English provides key English learning resources especially suited for British English classes.

5. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

Oxford’s advanced learner’s dictionary is suited to advanced level learners of British English. Unlike most North American resources, Oxford does a great job of providing comparisons between standard North American and British English. This dictionary is excellent for those who wish to study English as a global language.

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2 thoughts on “What dictionary should I use?

  1. I have had this topic on my to do list for months now. Thanks for the suggestions!

    • Our pleasure.
      I’ve been meaning to do this for a while also and finally decided to put at least some advice and information up.
      There’s a lot to say about this topic and eveyone has their own levels, needs and preferences. We’d be happy to hear any suggestions or ideas you have about choosing and using a dictionary.

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