If you are keen on learning new words, I advise you to use learner dictionaries. Some of the most popular learner dictionaries are as follows:
- Cambridge Dictionary
- Longman Dictionary
- Macmillan Dictionary
- Oxford Dictionary
Did you just say why? All right, let me explain it to you.
Learner dictionaries are different from general-use dictionaries such as Google Translate and Merriam-Webster. They are designed for learners just like you - who are trying to learn or improve his/her English: NOT for native speakers of English who are born in English speaking countries and know English from their childhood.
So you should use learner dictionaries because THEY HELP YOU…
1. … improve your pronunciation
From my experience, I have noticed that many learners pronounce English words incorrectly. They recognize the spellings and the meanings of many words, however, they often pronounce the actual words incorrectly. This probably happens because learners do not pay attention to the pronunciation of the words they learn. Most of the learner dictionaries – namely Cambridge and Oxford dictionaries- list both British as well as US pronunciation of the words. So, improve your pronunciation by using the learner dictionaries and know the difference between British and US pronunciation.
2. … know the important words
As a person who is learning English, do you often feel like that sometimes you learn words that most people use while some other time you learn words that is not used so often?This happens because some words are more often used than the other words. For example, almost every English speaker knows good while very few people might be familiar with the word superior.
The learner dictionaries give hints which words are more frequent (thus more important) and which are less (not very often used in speaking and writing). To check this, look for the stars in the Macmillan dictionary (click for the source).In addition to information about frequency, Oxford dictionary gives information about academic words (e.g., issue, analysis, data). So, if you want to find out academic words or the words that are frequent in speaking and writing, consider using the learner dictionaries.
3. … read the example sentences
Another advantage of the learner dictionaries is that they list example sentences almost for all the words. When you look up a word in a dictionary, I recommend that you read example sentences too because they tell you how to use words in writing and/or speaking. The learner dictionaries contain example sentences that are easy to understand and clear. So, read example sentences when you learn new words.
4. … notice accurate English
Learner dictionaries will help you pick up useful phrases/expressions.Furthermore, if you have difficulty with English articles, prepositions, and phrases/expressions, then you need to take advantage of these dictionaries. The dictionaries highlight or bold useful expressions.See the examples below:
What's the Spanish word for ‘ table’?
Words fail me (= I cannot express how I feel).
a man of few words (= who doesn’t talk very much)
in your own words (= use your words)
So, whenever you use the learner dictionaries, pay attention to the bolded, highlighted, or underlined phrases/expressions.
Expand your vocabulary and use colorful vocabulary with the help of the learner dictionaries and impress your friends and teachers next time you write something or speak with each other!
QUESTION: What dictionaries do you use?
About the author
I’m Ulugbek Nurmukhamedov. In Uzbekistan, my friends call me Ulug’bek. In the US, almost all of my friends call me Bek. I was born and raised in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Since 2004, I have been doing most of my academic work in the USA. Read more about me here.