As I prepare for my training sessions this week, I am pondering the answer to the following question

As I prepare for my training sessions this week, I am pondering the answer to the following question: “Which dictionary do students prefer to use?” The answers will be, as ever, tremendously varied.

Most popular will be a best-selling German-English English-German yellow dictionary, along with the web dictionary Leo. There may be a mixture of monolingual Learners dictionaries from the Big Four: CUP, Longman, Macmillan and OUP. Far fewer students use the CD-ROM (or, today, DVD-ROM) version.

A worksheet I use time and time again is the Dictionary Comparison sheet from my book, Blended Learning. Students can work in small groups to look up five words in a paperback bi-lingual dictionary, or using a (ubiquitous) electronic translator; another group can look at a word in a monolingual dictionary; another at a CD-ROM, and the last group in a web-based dictionary. The groups are changed and students compare their experience.

This usually provokes a great discussion about frequency; speed of access and so on. The web dictionary to date has not really been all that popular. One thing I will mention in next week’s workshops is the new online version of the Macmillan English Dictionary. I have been impressed by the facility on the this to allow users to add entries, such as ‘webinar’ and ‘trilemma’. One problem is whether these words are one-offs or whether they will stay around. If you want to play around with this facility, go to M-Pulse and click on ‘Open dictionary’. You can try it on the home page of my website: Great for students, too!