Why should I use a ‘learner dictionary’?

Do you know what learner dictionaries are? They’re special English-only dictionaries for language learners.

They give word meanings using simple language so they’re easier to understand than other English-only dictionaries. 

But many learners like to use bilingual dictionaries. These dictionaries use two languages by giving the word meanings in the learner’s own language (for example: English-Japanese, English-Chinese). They can help you check a word’s meaning quickly and can be useful when first starting to learn a language.

But one problem with bilingual dictionaries is that some of the word’s meaning can be lost in the translation. They also don’t often give much information on how the word is used etc.

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On the other hand, learner dictionaries usually give many useful examples of how words are used. The examples often use the word’s most common collocations (other words the word is often used together with) and the most common phrases or idioms the word is used in. For words with polysemy (having more than one meaning), they can also tell you which meanings are more common.

So learner dictionaries not only give more information on word meanings in easy-to-understand language but also show you how to use the word naturally.

Some learner dictionaries even have pictures and tell you the language level/frequency of the word.

Luckily, you can find some great (and free!) learner dictionaries online such as Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries (below).

Checking the word ‘communication’ in Oxford Leaner’s Dictionaries

Remember, the best way to learn (and remember) new vocabulary is to create as many links to the new word as possible in your head. This means not just linking the word to its meaning, but also to the way it’s used, its pronunciation, stress, and spelling etc.

Extra tip!:  Writing your new words down will help you remember them. Maybe you can make a special vocabulary notebook for this. Try to pronounce the words when you write them. Also, copy one or two of the examples from the dictionary. This will help you remember how the words are used.

Related links:

Why is word stress important?

How can word parts help me understand new vocabulary?

Check out our English ‘Self-study Tips’ graded reader