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What is the Best Dictionary?

Students often ask Teacher Joe which dictionary is the best. In fact, there is not one "best" dictionary. However, Teacher Joe does have a suggestion for all students - use a monolingual dictionary, one that has only English. Using a dictionary with no definitions in your own language is difficult at first, but it has some big advantages that will help you speak English much more clearly.

One advantage is that it will help you to think in English. When you use an English-only dictionary, you will keep your mind only on one language, instead of changing from English to your language, and back to English. The second advantage is that you will learn how to explain words in English. This ability is called paraphrasing which is one of the most useful Conversation Skills in English.

If your spoken English is not so fluent, you can buy a "learner's dictionary". The Oxford Learner's Dictionary, the Longman Learner's Dictionary, and the Cambridge Learner's Dictionary all have easy to understand definitions and excellent example sentences. If your spoken English is already quite good, you can buy any kind of dictionary, as long as it includes many examples. Avoid any dictionary that has simple definitions only!

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