Longman Study Dictionary of American English

Title: Longman Study Dictionary of American English
Publisher: Pearson Education Limited
Reviewed by: Carla Wilson
Review date: October 2007
Summary: Dictionary for secondary school aged students with an emphasis on age-appropriate entries and academic English.

Longman Study Dictionary of American EnglishThis dictionary bridges the gap between picture dictionaries aimed at young learners and comprehensive dictionaries aimed at adults. It achieves this in a number of ways.

The entries themselves are age-appropriate, avoiding many words that a teenager is unlikely to use or encounter. The example sentences provided are mostly either specifically related to school-age experiences or to experiences that are commonplace enough that most people would understand the context.

The layout of the pages is very accessible. It uses a two-tone colour scheme and the print size is quite big. Many pages have a picture to illustrate an entry or a box with extra information. These illustrations and boxes serve to break up the page.

While omitting many words that are unnecessary for most teenagers to know, it includes academic words that students may need for academic writing and encompasses many scientific words.

In the centre of the dictionary there is a workbook and a picture dictionary. The workbook provides a series of lessons about how to use the dictionary including sections on word usage, pronunciation and synonyms and antonyms. These lessons could be used in class or could be done by students individually. The picture dictionary provides topic-based colour illustrations of about 20 categories including emotions, verbs of movement, jobs and furniture.

The dictionary uses boxes within the main body to give more information about various words. The majority of these boxes are Word Families and Thesauruses. The Word Family boxes include academic words from a single family e.g. philosophy, philosopher and philosophical, rather than having all the words listed as main entries. The Thesaurus boxes are given near the most common of the related words, but are referred to in the entries of other words from the box. There are also Usage boxes and Grammar boxes although these are used much less than the main two types of box.

One very nice feature of the dictionary is that it highlights key words. This would help students decide whether a word should be remembered or whether it is sufficient to know the meaning for the purpose at hand. It is also very easy to distinguish between the different meanings or uses of each entry. I also really liked the example sentences.

The dictionary is very US-centred. It is an American English dictionary so this is to be expected to a certain extent. However, in the picture dictionary for example it has a map of the USA but no maps of other countries or even a world map.

Another aspect I didn't really like was the illustrations in the main body of the dictionary. While I think they serve the purpose of making the dictionary more accessible to teenagers, the entries that have been chosen to illustrate are words that are easy to understand even without a picture.

Overall, this dictionary would be very useful for secondary school aged students whose first language is not English, and university students who have a low to intermediate level of English. It would be accessible to most students of this kind of age group both as a general dictionary and to help them with academic writing. Although it seems to be mainly aimed at secondary school aged students living in the US, it would be a useful dictionary for many kinds of English learners.

TEFL.net ESL Reviews & ArticlesCarla Wilson