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Oxford Picture Dictionary, Second Edition: English-Chinese Paperback – Jul 19 2008
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About the Author
Jayme Adelson-Goldstein is an ESL teacher-trainer, consultant, and author living in Northridge, California. Norma Shapiro has been involved with language teaching since 1982. She has conducted many workshops on vocabulary development, communicative activities, and using visuals in the classroom.
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Pinyin? NONE, not even in an index form. You will have to use another dictionary tool to look up pinyin. This could work because if you're learning Cantonese, you can write in your own romanization system
Grammar? Some in English, NONE IN CHINESE. Your Chinese needs to good enough to integrate new vocabulary into your existing grammatical knowledge
Topics? Adult communicative opportunities in daily life
Good for kids? Not at all, unless you have an incredible precocious child who wants to learn how to talk about their constitutional rights in Chinese
Ideal Target Audience? Mostly ESL teachers and students, although heritage language learners can also benefit tremendously.
The Oxford Picture Dictionary (English/Chinese) ranges from a decent to outright outstanding picture dictionary, depending on what you're using it for. The word "picture dictionary" can seem misleading because you may think this is marketed for kids or beginning learners. True, it has artistic renderings accompanying the words although less charming than say the "Times Goes By" series or Usborne's First Thousand Words/First Hundred Words books. This book was conceived, developed and intended to be used with adult audiences and features a variety of themes from everyday "adult" life such as trips to the bank, the office setting, emergency procedures and legal system jargon. These bits of information are far more useful when a house fire hits or when you get thrown into the slammer, compared to if you studied Usborne's First 1000 Words and memorized all farm animals on the page. Because seriously, how many times are you going to identify an bear in your daily life?
So now, the issue here is WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING TO USE THIS BOOK FOR? Are you learning Mandarin? Are you teaching ESL? This books has a myriad of uses and can be adaptable for any one of them, depending on how you, the USER, approaches it. So let's look at the options.
#1. You are learning Mandarin Chinese as a second language:
This dictionary is not ideal, but can work if you want it to. The pictures are colored, nice, bright and large and there are a variety of less commonly used vocabulary words (e.g. dental hygienist, wood stain) that you won't find in those cutesy beginner books that almost always include colors, numbers and family members. And the text is approachable and more easily digestible compared to standard Chinese paper dictionaries. True, there is no pinyin but this could be a positive because with the presence of pinyin, a lot of learners overly rely on reading the letters instead of focusing exclusively on character recognition. You will have to research the pinyin, stroke order, radical and all that basic stuff on your own time, but that's what a reference book is for: for you to fill with your own individualized information. I don't consider the lack of pinyin a negative because too many beginners overly rely on them. There are plenty of cheap books and free internet tools where you can look up or draw the character and get the pinyin that way. Also reading this dictionary will help you develop phono-semantic awareness of Chinese characters (yes it is possible to "sound" out a Chinese character once your vocabulary is expansive enough to recognize the patterns). You will need a late intermediate to early advanced language knowledge to effectively use this book, but it's not outside of your reach. Proceed with caution and this cannot be used in isolation, but it's a good and cheap addition to your library.
#2. You are a heritage Chinese language learner who speaks Mandarin relatively fluently but wants to learn how to read:
Considering you have an early intermediate reading knowledge and an advanced speaking/listening fluency, this could be the perfect book for you. It does not have pinyin, but that can be good because this can aid and reinforce character recognition. It uses common communicative Chinese and depending on your background, you should have extensive information about any number of their themes. Since you're a heritage learner, your understanding of grammar should be decent and you can use new vocabulary with little difficulty in daily conversation and writing. This book isn't targeted for heritage learners, but could serve as an useful tool.
#3. You are an ESL teacher who is looking for resources for your students who come from Mandarin speaking/Chinese backgrounds:
Lucky you, ESL is the intended target audience of these Oxford series. If you want to provide your students with an additional supplement for vocabulary building, then this picture dictionary is good. It has a lot of pertinent "immigrant student" topics such as concepts on citizenship tests, driver licenses and job searching. The text also has conversation and dialogue guides which can be worked on individually or in pairs. It has a pronunciation guide, although it uses IPA and I'm not sure how useful that can be for a lot of ESL students out there. This definitely needs to be used in conjunction with another high quality textbook, but can be helpful for students to study on their own and reference to.
And in case you're wondering, I'm a heritage Chinese language learner who teaches high school ESL and Mandarin Chinese. I bought this dictionary mostly for my own reference but I can see it working in my Mandarin classroom as a study guide or even used to draft test questions. If I were to teach with it, I would have to add my own information (pinyin, stroke order, radical, etc.), but like any reference book, you need to make it your own before it is useful in any situation.
It features over 4,000 words covering 241 color pages (with both illustrations and photographs), divided into twelve chapters covering recreation, plants and animals, areas of study, work, transportation, community, health, clothing, food, housing, people, and everyday language. It also has an index at the end with phonetic pronunciations as well as Chinese characters. Clearly, this book will be used until it literally falls apart. At this rate, I'm considering laminating each page and putting it in a three ring binder because it's simply that consistently referenced.
As others have noted, this is not a tool for English speakers looking to learn Mandarin Chinese, unless you already know the characters/symbols, as Pinyin is NOT used. If you are looking for an invaluable tool for a speaker of Mandarin Chinese who is learning English however, I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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