7 February 2014

Dictionary - book or App?

For may years, I have been a fierce advocate of the book dictionary as I believe that, over time, the act of looking up a word and scanning the entries around this word, expands one's vocabulary and awareness of linked terms. There can be no substitute for seeking a translation or definition in a sea of words on the page....or can there?

My grandmother kindly gave me a copy of Collin's Robert French dictionary for my 17th birthday and I still use this and the Spanish equivalent, bought during my years of study at the University of Liverpool. The grandeur of these large tomes and the assurance that one will find any word under the sun, combine to make them super dictionaries...or are they?

I have recently read the Cementario de los Libros Olvidados trilogy by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Three large books and great page turners, which entertained me over a number of months during the past year. I read in cafés, on the train, in bed, on the sofa and the presence of a second book would seriously have limited my reading opportunities as I sought to find space to put and refer to a dictionary alongside the novels. As a result, I swallows my pride and turned to an Android App on my Samsung Galaxy Ace called Spanish version 2.1. It has it's drawbacks (does not automatically erase the previous term entered and had limited vocabulary stored) but can be used offline and has enabled me to minimise contextual deduction of vocabulary and ensured that I know the detailed words used in descriptions.

The best discovery has been the Google Translate app for iPad. This 'knows' (some) idioms along with a massive stored vocabulary. I became an even greater fan as I discovered that the App stores my history on the screen (and below in a long scroll) and I can return to previous esl sought words in the list and, even more exciting! - with a swipe, items can be deleted from this history and so, I was able to build up my personal vocabulary list for the novel. I can know review this list and make written notes to ensure long term retention of the terms. The Google Translate App has the drawbacks that it cannot be used offline and it does not give definitions. However, the App has changed the experience of reading in a foreign language for me, as I have been able to quickly and effectively find the translation to the unknown words whilst reading here there and everywhere!

Off to start my new Spanish novel now....

Happy reading to one and all!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad