Cambridge learner’s dictionary with CD-ROM

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. v + 848.

Reviewed By Ulugbek Nurmukhamedov
Intensive English Institute, University of Illinois, U.S.A.

The Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary (CLD), based on the Cambridge International Corpus and Cambridge Learner Corpus, offers intermediate and upper intermediate-level ESL/EFL learners a research-based and learner-oriented English-English dictionary. The CLD hard-copy version is available with or without a learner-friendly CD-ROM which contains everything in the hard-copy dictionary plus additional features to build the learner’s vocabulary while making this process enjoyable.
The CLD hard copy text contains over 27,000 examples to show English learners how to use words appropriately and naturally. Before learners see these examples in the hard copy version, however, they are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Introduction section because it gives brief but useful information about other sub-sections in the dictionary. The How to Use This Dictionary and More Information on Using the Dictionary are also must-reads as these two sections provide learners with useful tips about how to make the best use of this resource.
The next part of the text New Words contains 59 neologisms, words and phrases that have recently entered the English vocabulary. Center Pages, another part with learners of English in mind includes two sub-sections: Color Topic Pictures (i.e., colorful pictures illustrating offices, the body parts, fruits, vegetables etc) and Extra Help Pages (i.e., explaining useful vocabulary expressions, grammar rules, effective email witting and conversation strategies etc).
Examining the word entries themselves, learners will find this dictionary useful because the text emphasizes which words and definitions are important to learn and why.

Since CLD is corpus-informed, the most frequently used 2,000 words which are encountered both in written and spoken discourse have a key sign, intending to raise the learners’ awareness of the importance of these words. Not only word entries but also each meaning of a word is listed in the order of frequency. The verb see , for example, has eight different meanings. The first meaning of see is to notice people and things with your eyes (e.g., Turn the light on so that I can see) and the eighth one is to be the time or place where something happens (e.g., This decade has seen huge technological advances). This feature will help users to learn new words strategically, depending on each word s frequency in written and spoken discourse. Users will also appreciate the Extra Examples section that demonstrates the use and the form of a word in different contexts.

In addition to everything in the hardcopy version, the CD-ROM also offers other helpful features: (1) a Study Pages section which has more colorful pictures, handouts, and other interactive vocabulary and grammar activities; (2) ommon Learner Error Notes, which point out words that learners often have difficulty in using correctly as well as suggestions of how to avoid mistakes; and (3) Word Partners, a helpful section that provides a text-box along side the entries with the most frequently used collocations. Readers will also find the QUICKfind and SUPERwrite functions useful. The first for help in checking word definitions simultaneously while reading online texts; the second to check spelling, word, usage, possible collocations while writing in Microsoft Word 2003/2007.

By creating a learner-oriented dictionary with useful features and interactive exercises, it is obvious that the authors of this invaluable resource have committed themselves to helping learners of English learn new words quickly and enjoyably. However, learners who use popular Internet browsers such as FireFox or Safari may be disappointed to find out that the QUICKfind function is compatible with Internet Explorer only. Despite this software incompatibility issue, users will certainly find Cambridge Learner s Dictionary a great tool for learning English vocabulary.