A case for bilingual learners' dictionaries

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This article makes a case for bilingual learners’ dictionaries. These dictionaries are very different from traditional bilingual dictionaries, being attuned to the productive needs of learners who are speakers of a specific L1. Although they have been around for some time now, teachers of English remain largely unaware of their benefits (or, possibly, their existence), continuing to promote the one-size-fits-all monolingual English learners’ dictionaries (MELDs) as the best choice for their students. As practising lexicographers, we cannot fail to appreciate the excellence of the leading MELDs, but, as we try to show, there are important respects in which even the best monolingual dictionary cannot assist a foreign language learner. We also explain why bilingualized dictionaries (adaptations of MELDs) are not a viable alternative to custom-designed bilingual learners’ dictionaries when it comes to helping students speak or write in English. Our arguments are illustrated by sample entries taken from dictionaries for speakers of Japanese, Polish, and Portuguese learning English; some more examples of bilingual learners’ dictionaries for speakers of different languages are given in the Appendix.




learner's dictionary, bilingual dictionary, lexicography, language teaching, writing, English


Lew, Robert and Arleta Adamska-Sałaciak. 2015. ‘A Case for Bilingual Learners' Dictionaries.’ ELT Journal 69.1: 47–57.


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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego