When learning a language, many people use bilingual dictionaries. These are very useful, but once you get passed the basics, it’s a good idea to invest in a monolingual dictionary in your target language. When you look up words in bilingual dictionaries, you rely on your native language to understand what they mean. In a monolingual dictionary you have to rely entirely on the language you’re learning. This helps you to pick a lot of new vocabulary.

The only problem with monolingual dictionaries is finding places to buy them. There are monolingual dictionaries online, for example I just found a good Spanish dictionary here, but finding printed ones is not quite so easy. Any suggestions where to look?

This entry was posted in Language, Language learning.

10 Responses to Dictionaries

  1. Josh says:

    Monolingual French Dictionaries are relatively easy to find, at least, in my experience they are. You can pick one up at most Borders or Barnes & Nobles here in the States.

  2. jdotjdot89 says:

    Maybe this would sound obvious, but my advice would be to go a country that speaks the language and buy it there. Not only would it be the most likely place to have such a dictionary, but it will also be far more likely to be accurate and include the slang of the area–something that American monolingual dictionaries will probably lack. The best Spanish and Hebrew dictionaries I’ve found were from Chile and Israel–though admittedly, the best Arabic dictionary I found was in an Arab community in Brooklyn. To be fair, though, the dictionary itself came from Saudi Arabia.

  3. Josh says:

    I was able to pick up Langenscheidt’s Großwörterbuch für Deutschlernende at amazon.com.

  4. Zachary R. says:

    I like Asian languages because they often have electronic dictionaries (which usually have more than one type of lookup; monolingual, bilingual, etc.). These are pretty useful if you plan to use it a lot, and the different lookups provided are often much faster than going in a standard paper dictionary. But it seems in European-languaged countries, we aren’t into them too much. Anyway, you should try ebay or ask over the phone at any general Spanish store.

  5. I find a lot of stuff at Barnes and Noble, or even better, Borders. Borders has more variety where I am at (Twin Cities). But getting something in the country you are in is even better, if the plane ticket isn’t a problem.

    Have you tried a University bookstore?

    One thing I like is wordreference.com – it has the Spanish-English and all that, but it also has a Spanish Definitions section. Nice touch.

  6. Josh says:

    Just a note on the moto translation to french…

    I’d probably use “une seule langue n’est jamais suffisante”, only because “une langue n’est jamais suffisante” doesn’t sound definate enough. It sounds like you’re saying “a language isn’t enough” rather than “one language isn’t enough”.

    Just an observation.

  7. Rachel says:

    Can’t say i’d know where to find an actual printed monolingual dictionary, apart from the internet, but http://www.wordreference.com provides synonyms for words in english and spanish. I don’t think it does in any other languages unfortunately though.

  8. Polly says:

    Josh – it’s just those nuances that make language learning such an ongoing adventure of exploration and discovery.
    One lang. IS never enough and at the same time, just 1 lang. can be too much! Sufficient for a lifetime’s worth of study.

    Sorry I can’t speak to the topic of this post. I’ve never tried to use a monolingual dictionary (except for English). Although I’ve seen a few British–>American dictionaries @ Borders, et al.

  9. tetsu says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Simon. Monolingual dictionaries have helped me TREMENDOUSLY for learning languages. You vocabulary literally grows exponentially.

    keep up the great work!

  10. renato says:

    I have the same problem as Simon, it is difficult to find monolingual dictionaries. In Brazil is easy to find them in Italian, French, Spanish, and sometimes Germam. But if you are looking for a dict. in a no comon language, Polish, Turkish, Armenian so on, this is almost impossible. My clues go to the same place as Josh Barnes&Noble and Amazon.com

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