How To Choose A Bilingual DictionaryHow To Choose A Bilingual Dictionary

If you are learning a language, you will sooner or later decide to get rid of the dog-eared, fifty-year-old dictionary that your aunt used when she was at school and buy yourself something a little more up-to-date. But when you arrive at your favourite bookstore, you are amazed to see that there are as many different dictionaries to choose from as there are yoghurts in the hypermarket (I spend half an hour every week trying to find a simple natural yoghurt).

Here are a few guidelines help you choose your new bilingual dictionary:

1. Bigger isn't always better

My French students get really confused when they look up ?get? in our enormous French-English dictionary. There are more than three and half pages of definitions. They invariably end up choosing the wrong one. Just because the cover says there are half a million words listed, so what? You don't know that many words in your own language, and you will certainly never learn that many in a foreign language. If you have an active vocabulary of a thousand or two thousand words, you will do just fine. My pocket French dictionary has over 40,000 words; it's convenient to carry around and didn't cost me a fortune.

2. Example sentences

A definition on its own is useless if you can't see how it works in a sentence. So you know that the French word for ?peach? is ?p?che?. Great. But if your dictionary didn't tell you that if you say in French ?I've got the peach!? that means you're feeling great, you're missing out. All languages have idioms, so your dictionary should tell you how a word is used in reality, not just a simple one-word definition.

3. Only buy a dictionary that uses the International Phonetic Alphabet.

A lot of big publishers think that it's too complicated for people to learn the phonetic alphabet, so they invent their own. So you see things like ?Je voudrais une boisson? = Juh voodray oon bwAHson?. Following these types of pronunciation guides is sure to make you sound like an idiot when you try to speak. Some dictionaries have invented some symbols that are more accurate, but that means that if you are using another dictionary you will be lost. The International Phonetic Alphabet is the one used by linguists the world over; it's consistent and doesn't take that long to work out. You only need to learn the sounds that are used in your chosen language, and see how they relate to the sounds we use in English.

by Jon Lewis
References and Bibliography

Jonathan Lewis teaches English as a foreign language in the south of France. He is passionate about words - he loves using them! For hints about learning a foreign language, go to his site learning languages. For French speakers, will help you to improve your learning techniques. His blog, learning English is also a good source of language learning information

Rated:NR/0 Votes
Add To My Article Reading List
Add To My Article Reading List
Print Article
More Article By Jon Lewis
More Article by Jon Lewis
More Articles From Language
More Articles From Language
Related Articles and Readings
How to Teach Your Toddler the Alphabet By: Lisa Baade
Learning the ABC's is not only fun and interactive but an essential step before starting school The age you decide to begin this learning adventure will entirely depend on you and your ...
Get the Lili Flowers Collection by Alphabet Clothes, This Darling Little Capri Set is so Perfectly S By: Johnson McBrady
With so galore diverse trademarks offering you a extensive array of products and supplements, it can be arduous to settle down with any one, that is why, here at Pure and Honest Kids, you can select from a wide roll of trade names, and in a matter ...
The Most Stylish Alphabet For Your Kids By: Johnson McBrady
With so numerous various makes providing you a sizable array of products and add-on, it can be troublesome to square off with any one, that is why, here at Pure and Honest Kids, you can select from a ample array of brand names, and in a weigh of ...
Alphabet Clothes : Give Special Feeling to Your Kids By: Johnson McBrady
With so numerous extraordinary brands extending you a astronomical set out of products and accessories, it can be awkward to reconcile with any one, that is why, here at Pure and Honest Kids, you can prefer from a sizable array of brand mark, and ...
Alphabet Clothing: The Selective Trademark You Can Swear Blindly For Top-quality Dresses. By: Johnson McBrady
Alphabet clothing: Alphabet is a name you can reliance, to bring you some of the top-grade apparels for your kids at cheap monetary values You can be elaborated to get the cleanest from Alphabet's large range of children adorns, taking close your ...
The information provided in this article and/or the comments is the sole responsibility of their respective authors and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of  does not endorse any article and/or comments published by our web users unless otherwise noted. 

Member Panel

login to submit articles and more


  • » Active Categories: 419
  • » Active Articles:252609
  • » Active Authors:31915
  • » Active Members: 38222
  • » Statistics Updated:
    - Thu May 7th, 2020 12:50AM EST