Longman Essential Activator
Longman Essential Activator 2nd Edition is a book addressed to those students who want to make their spoken and written language more varied. The definitions and explanations in English, as well as the choice of vocabulary make this book a perfect learning tool for students whose level of English is intermediate.
Apart from the introductory part, which explains how to use the book, the dictionary consists of the following sections: The Dictionary A-Z, Word Banks, Essential Communication, Essential Grammar, Index and Writing Coach (on a CD-ROM).
"The Dictionary A-Z" can be used as a typical English-English dictionary. You simply find the word you do not know and from the explanation you learn about its meaning. What is more, you can also check the pronunciation, formality (of some words), read example sentences which show you how a given word is used in different contexts or check which words can be used as substitutes. However, if you want to use this book only as a dictionary it may be a bit problematic. You may not find the word you are looking for because the main aim of the book is not to serve as a typical dictionary. It includes only the most basic words or concepts from which you can learn more. This is mainly because the book was written as a kind of thesaurus or, as the title suggests, "word activator".
Thanks to the instructions included in "How to use the Longman Essential Activator" we learn that the main aim of this publication is to help us improve our productive skills. It is done by expanding the range of vocabulary we use. We learn how to use more sophisticated or advanced phrases instead of repeating basic words. All you have to do is to find (in the "Dictionary A-Z" section) the word you want to substitute with another one. Next, chose from numerous sections the most suitable context, read the definition and check if it is the best option for you. Finally, substitute your previous word with a new one to make your sentence sound more interesting.
"Word Banks" is in my opinion the best section in this book. It helps students write essays on 25 popular subjects. Each topic section includes vocabulary connected with a given topic area, writing tips and short model essays. What is very important here is the fact that this section only suggests how students can make their writing more interesting - it does not offer ready-made papers that students can copy without fully understanding them.
The "Essential Communication" section is divided into several topics which are the most popular situations students might be faced with when having a conversation in English. From this part of the Activator students learn how to make their speech more native-like. You can find out which phrases are used in formal situations and which are used mainly during converations.
"Essential Grammar", as the title suggests, includes the most essential (for intermediate students) grammar explanations. This section concentrates mainly on those grammar concepts which cause most problems for students. Short and simple enough explanations are supported by example sentences.
The "Index" informs you where exactly you can find the word you are looking for. It directs you not only to the dictionary section, but also to other appropriate parts of the Activator.
Longman Writing Coach on CD-ROM serves the same purpose as the paper version of the Activator. In addition, it offers a huge number of exercises which help students expand their vocabulary, learning how to use it while writing or speaking. There are useful grammar, communication, and writing tips. What is more, on the CD-ROM you can also find the complete Longman Active Study Dictionary.
To sum up, I think this publication is worth recommending to all intermediate students who wish to learn new vocabulary and by using it in practice make their written assignments and spoken communication more interesting and appropriate.