Visual vocabulary

5th December 2003 at 00:00

Visual French Dictionary. Oxford University Press pound;19.99.

Collins First Time French Dictionary. Collins pound;6.99.

Oxford's Visual French Dictionary is a great tool for those whose preferred learning style is visual. Instead of looking up the spelling of a word you can turn to one of 18 colour-coded themes, such as "society" and "food and kitchen" and find a labelled picture. Alternatively, you can look up the word and be referred to a page number with the appropriate picture. The images are colourful and highly realistic so that users can quickly identify the object they are looking for. One immediate benefit, from the language teacher's point of view, is that pupils will look up one word, but are likely to see others of interest along the same theme and this may well increase their interest in learning new vocabulary.

While this dictionary is highly recommended for the key stage 3, 4 and 5 classroom, it is obviously limited to nouns which can be illustrated, and so it would have to be complemented by a traditional dictionary.

The Collins First Time French Dictionary is aimed at KS2 pupils and above.

With early language learning now firmly on the agenda, it arrives at an opportune time. It's layout is appealing, with the word being looked up in blue and its meaning in black, and there is a helpful line drawn under each separate item. There are illustrations, at least one on every page which, as well as being a useful visual learning tool, break up the continuity of text.

The dictionary provides lots of simple, relevant examples and tips on how to remember words and how to avoid some of the pitfalls of translation. It also features key phrases, quiz questions and information about life in France. Indeed, this is more than a dictionary, it is a language and cultural learning tool and should be welcomed by children, parents and teachers alike.

Wendy Adeniji teaches in the School of Education, University of Leeds

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