Saturday, December 09, 2006


Bilingual dictionaries are necessary but not your best learning or reference too. Most, especially the small paperback version do not distinguish between different meanings and best usages. Nor do they provide examples. As soon as possible, start using an English-English dictionary. Not all dictionaries equally suitble for ESL learners. A category referred to as learner's dictionaries is designed for use by non-native speakers

Here are some useful dictionary choices. A number include audio files for correct pronunciation. Browsw them to see which one best suits you. You should also purchase your own paper copy of a good learner's dictionary. When you are further along in your studies, buy a GOOD English-English dictionary.

Dictionary activities
As part of reading/vocab development, use on-line dictionaries from this list (& search for more if you wish) to find multiple sentences using assigned target words. In the past, I've asked students to write original sentences, but there are too many errors this way, and the sentences are often too vague to show a clear context. Be “warned” that many samples are only phrases or sentence fragments. You will need to be develop the sample phrase into a complete sentence.

A good online biligual dictionary
Or search "dictionary + english + [your language]"

While you are looking through the online dictionaries, I'll be thinking about interesting target words for the activity I described above.

Post a comment to let us know what you think of these resources and which one you would recommend.


  1. well, finally I can be here again, Thank you Vanessa :) this cambridge I am also use very often.

    The other one which I know is
    Here is have got database cover with science vocabs/wiki.

    and one more is
    here can help me about synonyms and antonyms and also it has got the news articles update every day.

    For the other links I have not seen yet, I will try anyway. ok, I am going to write introduction myself my blog.

    Thank you

  2. Tai

    My focus here was more with a particular category of dictionary - learner's - designed specifically for ESL learners with easy to understand definitions, example sentences, etc. Sometimes regular single language dictionaries can be hard to use in another language. is a good general dictionary source.

    When you read online, open an online dictionary in another window and you are set to look up words quickly as you read.

    You also touch briefly on a very important point: specialized vocabulary. There are so many words to learn in any new language that it is impossible to learn all of them. Native speakers don't manage that either. So if you are in a profession or studying in a technical or specialized area, you need to be familiar with its specialized vocabulary. A quick way is to search using [name of field or specialty] + glossary. There are quite a number of online glossary for professions and specialized fields.

  3. I spent some time to vist these website. they are good resource for learning English.

    *The Internet Picture Dictionary-
    It's great for beginner and kids to learn things that we often see and use. I learn somethings new form it.

    *Visual dictionary-
    It is one of my favorite. It includes a lot of different subjects. This website details each topic with coloful image. No matter what topics you are looking for, they have them all. I Love it.

    *Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online-
    The best part about this dictionary is that they put several similar words together and compare the differences, so we can use a word precisely.

    *Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary-
    There give many examples, so we can learn more the usage of the word that we want to use.

    *Heinle's Newbury House Dictionary of American English-
    They have many activities(srossword). It is fun to do it. They also have pronuciation guide. I think it is useful for me to learn how to say a word corretly.

    I bought a Merriam-Webster's Learners Dictionary when I was student. Last year, I bought a Logman Advance American Dictionary. How do you think about this dictionary that I brought, Vanessa? Is it suitable for me?

  4. Ginyin

    I like the picture ones for learning new words too. There is nothing quite like seeing what something LOOKS like!

    The Longman Advanced sounds like an excellent choice for you. You will get a lot of use out of the Merriam-Webster too, especially with specialized terms that might not be in a learners dictionary.

    Eventually, you'll want to look for a specialized health care/ nursing / medical dictionary. In the meantime, you should be able to find one online - maybe even one you can download.

  5. Hi all,

    I tried all the links and there is no doubt that all this online dictionaries are exellent, but I prefer to use on the other hand,I often use


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