Review ~ Macmillan Collocations Dictionary

An easy to use, straightforward resource for Intermediate to Advanced level language learners.
Reviewed for Teflnet by Jennie Roloff
Macmillan Collocations Dictionary

Macmillan Collocations Dictionary

When it comes to English fluency, collocations are crucial to sounding natural, smooth and competent. Understanding how words work together adds meaning that cannot be gained in any other way and is essential for beginner-level students who wish to progress to the next level. The Macmillan Collocations Dictionary is an excellent book to help students develop their language skills in this way. The introduction describes how the dictionary can aid students in their IELTS study, but it is useful for those not taking this test as well. In particular, I think this book can really support writers looking to improve their academic or professional writing skills. I’m even considering making this a required text for my university academic writing course because it’s so easy to use.

Its main strength is the colouring and layout, which are simple and clear, meaning that it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. The basic colouring includes headwords in red, simple definitions in black type and examples in italics. Multiple definitions are clearly numbered and collocates are bolded for easy identification. Under each word, different grammatical relationships (adj +N; V + N) are marked with a dot and additional listings of the same relationship are labelled with an arrow. Since the collocates are bolded, they visually leap off the page in a way that helps the busy writer efficiently identify the appropriate words to use. There are also occasional grey-and-red boxes that explain elements of usage in further detail and provide examples.

This is just the type of book you want lying around when you are stuck for a better-sounding word or phrase. You can pick it up off the shelf, look up a word, and in a matter of moments be back writing, even if you’ve never used it before. The only drawback I could see is if this is given to students who are too low to really get the most out of it. The definitions are very simple and clear, but students need to really understand the subtle differences in meaning to truly use it correctly. As long as you make sure it’s appropriate for your students’ level, this is a great resource book. If you’re a motivated self-studier, this is a book that you should definitely have on your shelf.

Reviewed by Jennie Roloff for February 2011
Jennie Roloff received her BA in International Affairs from The George Washington University and her Masters in TESOL at Teachers College Columbia University Japan (TC Japan). She is currently an instructor at Kanda University of International Studies, located in Chiba, Japan, and co-manager of the TC Japan Writing Center.

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