What will you do if you have problems understanding how a word is used?
Will you just surf the web or will you check a dictionary?
How useful is a learner’s dictionary to you?
A lot of people say that learners’ dictionaries are useful for self-learning, but why are there so many complaints about the usefulness and user-friendliness of a learner’s dictionary? Some of you may wonder: Even after checking a dictionary before using a word, I still cannot use the word correctly. Why? Is there something wrong with me or with the dictionary? Yes. You may have some wrong assumptions about a word or about what a dictionary can tell you. You may also have ignored a lot of useful information.
This article answers your questions and helps you make the full use of a learner’s dictionary. It gives you an idea what different kinds of information are available in a learner’s dictionary, what you have done wrong when you consult a learner’s dictionary, and what you can do to learn from a learner’s dictionary. If you are not an ESL student but an ESL teacher, you may also find this article useful, as it can help you design a dictionary training programme that suits your students best. Don’t throw away your dictionary or have it lying idle on your bookshelf. Follow my suggestions, and you will see how useful it is.