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Choosing the Best Dictionary to Improve Your English

Updated: Nov 20

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Using a dictionary

Introduction - Improve your English with a dictionary

English is a widely spoken language around the world, and its importance continues to grow in various fields, such as business, education, and communication. If you want to improve your English language skills, a good dictionary can be your best friend. But with so many options available, choosing the right one can be a bit overwhelming.

In this guide, I'll explore the factors to consider when selecting the best dictionary for your needs and how to use it effectively to enhance your English skills.

Why Use a Dictionary?

Dictionaries are valuable tools for anyone looking to improve their English. They offer a wealth of information, including word definitions, pronunciations, usage examples, and even the origins of words. Here are some compelling reasons to use a dictionary for English language improvement:

Vocabulary Expansion:

Dictionaries provide extensive lists of words, helping you discover new words to incorporate into your vocabulary.

Understanding Definitions:

Dictionaries offer clear and concise definitions, enabling you to grasp the meaning of words and their usage.

Pronunciation Guidance:

Many dictionaries include phonetic transcriptions or audio pronunciations to help you correctly pronounce words.

Contextual Usage:

Sample sentences in dictionaries illustrate how words are used in context, aiding comprehension.

Spelling and Grammar:

Dictionaries often contain information on correct spelling, word forms, and grammatical details.

If you want to learn a very simple and effective way to remember the spelling of any word in English (or any other language for that matter) then you need to get My 'simply better' Spelling Method. One lesson will teach you how.

Word Etymology:

Understanding a word's origin (etymology) can offer insights into its meaning and usage.

Choosing the Right Dictionary

Selecting the right dictionary is crucial for your language improvement journey. Here are some key factors to consider when making your choice:

Type of Dictionary:

a. Monolingual vs. Bilingual: Monolingual dictionaries are entirely in English and provide comprehensive definitions, while bilingual dictionaries translate English words into another language. Choose the type based on your language proficiency level and goals.

b. Learner's Dictionary: These dictionaries are designed specifically for language learners, featuring simplified definitions and explanations.

c. Specialized Dictionaries: Consider dictionaries tailored to specific areas like medical, legal, or technical fields if you have a specific focus.

Print or Digital:

Print dictionaries are traditional and provide a tangible reference. Digital dictionaries, available as apps or websites, offer the advantage of portability and quick search functions. You need to decide which format suits your needs and preferences.

Comprehensive vs. Compact:

Comprehensive dictionaries cover a vast range of words, while compact dictionaries are more concise and portable. Your choice should align with your language goals and how often you plan to carry your dictionary.

Stay Up-to-Date:

Language evolves, and new words are added over time. Ensure your dictionary is current to stay relevant with modern English.

An Aid to Pronunciation:

If improving your spoken English is a priority, look for dictionaries that include phonetic transcriptions and audio pronunciations.

If you want to learn how to improve your Pronunciation, My 'simply better' Pronunciation Method Module will help you.

Sample Sentences:

Dictionaries with sample sentences help you understand how words are used in context, enhancing your language skills.

Etymology Information:

Some dictionaries provide the historical origins of words, which can be fascinating and useful for a deeper understanding.

Using Your Dictionary Effectively

Once you've chosen the best dictionary for your needs, it's essential to use it effectively to improve your English. Here are some tips on how to do just that:

Set Clear Goals:

Determine your language learning objectives. Are you looking to expand your vocabulary, improve your writing, or enhance your spoken English? Having clear goals will guide your dictionary usage.

Daily Practice:

Incorporate your dictionary into your daily routine. Even spending just a few minutes each day looking up new words or reviewing definitions can make a significant difference over time.

Keep a Vocabulary Journal:

Maintain a notebook or digital document where you record new words, their definitions, and example sentences. This will help reinforce your learning and serve as a handy reference.

Context Matters:

When using your dictionary, pay attention to how words are used in context. Understanding the nuances of when and how to use a word is crucial.

Pronunciation Practice:

If your dictionary includes phonetic transcriptions or audio pronunciations, make use of them. Practice the correct pronunciation of words regularly.

As I mentioned, My 'simply better' Pronunciation Method Module will teach you a way to learn how to practice your pronunciation easily and quickly.

Learn Prefixes and Suffixes:

Many English words are built from prefixes and suffixes. Understanding these components can help you decipher the meanings of unfamiliar words.

Make Use of Synonyms and Antonyms:

Dictionaries often provide synonyms (words with similar meanings) and antonyms (words with opposite meanings). Exploring these can deepen your understanding of a word's nuances.

Word Games and Quizzes:

Engage in word games and quizzes to reinforce your vocabulary. Many apps and websites offer interactive language learning tools.

Follow my Facebook page to get Quick Quizzes.

Stay Consistent:

Language improvement is a gradual process. Stay consistent with your efforts, and don't get discouraged if progress seems slow at times.

My 'simply better' Method: Module A is the perfect Module to get to quickly improve your English as well as gain much needed confidence in using all your skills.

Expand Your Horizons:

Use your dictionary to explore different genres of reading material, from literature to newspapers, to encounter a variety of words and contexts.


Choosing and using the best dictionary to improve your English is a wise investment in your language skills. Whether you're a beginner or an advanced learner, the right dictionary can be a valuable resource for expanding your vocabulary, enhancing your writing, and improving your spoken English. By considering the type of dictionary, its format, and its features, and by using it effectively in your daily routine, you'll find that your English language skills can improve significantly over time. So, pick up your dictionary and embark on your journey to becoming a more confident and proficient English speaker and writer.

(c) Apex English Tutoring Nov 2023

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About the Author

Michael Finemore, MA (Research) CQU, TEFL/TESOL Certificate, an experienced English Teacher, is the Owner-Operator of Apex English Tutoring.

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