Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners

Title: Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners
Publisher: Macmillan Education
Components: Dictionary plus CD ROM
Reviewed by: Carla Wilson
Review date: October 2007
Summary: This new edition has sections on improving writing, language awareness and expanding vocabulary in addition to the main dictionary.

Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced LearnersThis dictionary is aimed at advanced level students of English, and tries to be user-friendly and a tool for helping students to become better learners and better speakers and writers of English.

It has several features that help to make it user-friendly. Its definitions are written using less than 2500 words chosen for their frequency. These words are given in a list at the back of the dictionary. The list is a useful tool in itself for students to learn these frequently occurring words.

Entries with more than one meaning have a red box after the entry which summarises very briefly the different meanings so that students don't spend timer eading every meaning in detail before they find the one they want.

The 7500 most frequently used words are entered in red. They have a star rating of between one and three stars to show if the word is one of the most common 2500 words, very common or quite common. These 7500 words have more information about how to use the word as well as the standard information about meaning.

The main body of the dictionary includes some small illustrations for some entries. These are quite well chosen in that they are for words that may be quite difficult to understand from a written description but which can be understood instantly with a picture,for example, cog, crossword and curl up.

The other aim of the dictionary seems to be to provide tools to help learners become better at using English, and to become better learners. Within the main body of the dictionary are red "Get it right" boxes. These boxes contain information about common mistakes that learners make, in order to help students avoid common errors when they use a word. Other red information boxes contain information about collocations, other ways of expressing something, words to avoid in certain situations because they cause offence and so on.

The dictionary has sections on improving writing, expanding vocabulary and language awareness. The improving writing section seems particularly useful for learners who have to write essays or reports in English. It is divided into areas such as comparing and contrasting, showing cause and effect, and reformulation, all of which are very useful academic writing skills.

The CD ROM has interactive exercises aimed at improving writing. It also has British and American pronunciation of every word, a thesaurus button next to every word, and allows users to add their own notes and translations.

The quality of example sentences is a vital part of any dictionary for advanced learners. This dictionary does reasonably well on that score. Many entries have very good example sentences that typify how the word is usually used by native speakers of English. Many examples however are too long and complicated, andc ould have have been replaced with a much shorter, simpler sentence.

There are a couple of other things that I don't really like about the dictionary. Most entries of words that are not in the list of 2500 common words don't have an example sentence. This is perhaps a worthwhile sacrifice to having more information about the 2500 most common words but is still a weak point. The two small picture dictionaries seem a bit of a gimmick. Although they provide a bit of welcome colour to anotherwise colourless book, I don't feel it is a particularly necessary or useful feature.

Overall, this is an appropriate and user-friendly dictionary for advanced learners and is especially suitable for those learners who need to write in English. ESL Reviews & ArticlesCarla Wilson is a director at David English House in Hiroshima, Japan.