Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 3rd Edition

Components: Dictionary, CD-Rom Publisher: Cambridge University Press Summary: Designed to be used as a reference dictionary for upper-intermediate to advanced learners of English. Review: The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is one of the many learner’s dictionaries available today. It has been specifically designed for upper-intermediate to advanced learners of English, especially those who are preparing […]
Reviewed for Teflnet by Joshua Antle

Components: Dictionary, CD-Rom
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Summary:
Designed to be used as a reference dictionary for upper-intermediate to advanced learners of English.

Review:
The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is one of the many learner’s dictionaries available today. It has been specifically designed for upper-intermediate to advanced learners of English, especially those who are preparing for tests such as IELTS, FCE, CAE and others.

Along with the main dictionary section, the CALD has several “Extra Help pages”, maps, colour pictures, and instructions on how best to use the dictionary. The dictionary is also colour-coded and includes all the typical information found in learners’ dictionaries. In addition, there is information on word frequency, common mistakes, and word partners, as well as a Word Guide to help with words which have multiple meanings.

There are several features new to this edition: the “Let’s Talk” section focuses on how people really speak; the common mistake box mentioned above; Thesaurus boxes for over-used words; and “Word Partner” boxes for the most common collocations. There is also a CD-Rom with this edition.

I am very impressed with this dictionary. I found it to be very user-friendly, comprehensive, and informative. Several features stood out: the word guide was very useful for my students when dealing with words, such as “change”, which have several meanings; the “Let’s Talk” section is well-organized and focuses on everyday English; and the “Common Mistake Box”, which is based on real learner errors from the Cambridge ESOL exams, was an excellent addition. My students also found the information on word frequencies to be motivating, and it helped concentrate their efforts on more useful vocabulary.

I didn’t have many complaints about the CALD; however, there were a few smaller issues that could be improved upon. The dictionary used a classification system, in addition to the information on word frequency, which showed if a word was “important” or not. It did this by using blue head words instead of black. Having these two systems seems a bit redundant. The “Smart Thesaurus” on the CD-Rom lists too many words in my opinion (I got 88 different words, listed in alphabetical order, for “aspect”). If the words were listed based on frequency, this would not be a problem. Finally, the dictionary itself is rather bulky. It is an excellent reference book, but I would not want to have to carry it to class everyday.

I found the CALD to be very useful in my higher level vocabulary and reading classes (upper-intermediate to advanced learners of English). I have also used it with lower-intermediate students with mixed results; as they had trouble with several of the definitions. That said, they still found it to be beneficial, and it will get them into the habit of using an English-English dictionary. The complaints I had with it were all minor and should not discourage someone from buying this excellent resource.

Reviewed by Joshua Antle for TEFL.net October 2008

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