If you are a non-native English teacher who teaches in a non-English speaking country you will be familiar with the picture below.
Now you are smiling, aren't you? We are teachers, not dictionaries, yes, but how can your students find dictionaries, especially the monolingual ones, helpful in the learning process, when they are not in the classroom?
In this post I'd like to share with you my 5 favourite online dictionaries and I'll tell you why I like them.
What's a monolingual learner's dictionary?
It's a dictionary designed to meet the reference needs of people learning a foreign language. It deals with grammar usage and common collocations.
Why I like it: The definitions are written in simple English accompanied by clear examples. Moreover, before its definition you find the CEF level the word belongs to.
Here you are an example. As you can see you can also check the pronunciation and the forms of irregular verbs.
Why I like it: I like it for its boxes. Yes, boxes about collocations and word choice. The layout is clear and straightforward.
Here you are an example of the word remember.
Why I like it: Students can easily use it at home. The layout is simple and clear.
As you know, a word has usually different meanings according to the context it is used in. In the Macmillan Dictionary the contexts are shown in a list so the students can decide which one they are interested in. For example, there are 9 different contexts the verb to come is used in.
Moreover, I love the star system. Below every word you will find 1, 2 or 3 stars. The stars show how common the words are. 1 star indicates words which are used a lot, 2 stars indicate words which are used more and finally, 3 stars indicate words which are used the most. Below an example for the three types.
We usually think monolingual dictionaries are for students whose level is intermediate or more. However, the websites of these online dictionaries are full of resources such as language games. This game from the Macmillan Dictionary aims at the practice of irregular verbs.
What I like: Another Dictionary website full of games useful for your students at any level is the Merriam Webster. These games aim at practicing synonyms, antonyms, spelling and even your general knowledge.
I especially like its Learner's Dictionary version because students can find a lot of examples, idioms, usage tips and some differences between American and British English. For some words there is also a visual aid.
This is the entry of the word cat
What I like: Last but not the least the Oxford Learner's Dictionary. I suggest this website if you are training your students for the FCE because it si full of collocations and grammar usage notes.
To sum up, when your students are not in the classroom they can improve their language knowledge just give them the right tools.