Friday, December 28, 2007

7. Effective Online Dictionaries

Let us be honest. There are numerous Online-Dictionaries out there, most of them are just useless. Let us speak about user-friendliness, about the capability and the quality of them for ESL Students.

What we really need:
Audio pronunciation, useful definitions,
different meanings, syllabication, stress marks/nucleus, and best possible information about word classes, function, derivations, inflected forms, transitivity, countable/uncountable or both, usage, varieties, idioms, phrases, collocations, proverbs, synonyms, antonyms, formal/informal speech labels.
We do need reliability and usability on a daily basis
. So don´t waste your time.


I´ve got an email from Warren Ediger,
see: . He just wanted to remind me of MSN´s Dictionary, which I´d forgotten. It´s a great site with effective definitions, collocations, word classes, inflected forms, Thesaurus and audio BUT it doesn´t support the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), so you need to learn its own phonetic symbols (Or you don´t). I use this dictionary as tool for extensive lookups. But it isn´t an ESL-Dictionary, it is designed for nativ speaker. For example: The limited use of the verb "belong", there is not any comment about the progressive tense restriction. So it depends on your individual level of proficiency.


Second best:

Cambridge Advanced Learner´s Dictionary
You´ll get word classes, phonetics, inflected forms, collocations and there´s an option for idioms, phrases and American English. You can search with short phrases and idioms as well.

And an useful different version !!

Cambridge International Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs

Cambridge Dictionary of American English

Third place

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
All in one, but limited audio features - nonetheless an effective dictionary.

(You have to click on this icon on their website)


Fourth place:

Merriam Webster

You´ll get the pronunciation with audio in a small pop up,
inflected forms, partly synonyms and word types.

Merriam Webster´s Pronunciation Dictionary with Audio:


Fifth place:

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language
(Their confusing website configuration is not that bad, you´ll get used to it. I like it for deep grammar lookups, you´ll find there everything about the English Language. Go there, give it a shot !, improve your English)


Sixt place:


Do some lookups for idioms, it´s THE Idiom Dictionary. It is compiled from the Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms and the Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms + Thesaurus. ____________________________________________________

Seventh place:
Juxtaposed American and British pronunciation audio files partly available.
E.g. for "Eat"


Eighth place:
All in One. But by far not the best, and they even charge users for getting their audio pronunciation.