Kernerman Dictionary News • Number 7 • July 1999

PASSPORT Electronic Dictionary –
Dizionario Multimediale Inglese / Italiano

Marina Gambacciani

Passport Electronic Dictionary (English/Italian) is an updated computer version of Passport English Learner's Dictionary. The present edition has been expressly realized for Italian users: it is not only a "traditional" dictionary on CD which provides the translation of about 12,000 items, but also a modern means of learning English with the support of sound, pictures, and other technical devices.

The dictionary consists of an index, in both English and Italian, and displays the English entries with their examples and notes, along with the Italian translation. Each headword has its British (and American) vocal pronunciation, and many entries have illustrations.

The use of the dictionary is extremely easy and accessible to everyone – it works as a hypertext. By clicking on a word, a window with all the relevant information appears. When you select an item in the index or write in the search line, a window appears on the screen with the Italian translation of the word, usually along with examples which help to understand and contextualise it. If an item has several meanings, or represents different parts of speech, the word appears more than once followed by a number. If the word has an irregular plural, or if it is an irregular verb, its forms are provided.

Synonyms are often provided, mainly for verbs, pointing out the differences in meaning and use. As regards adjectives – opposites are given, and as regards articles or pronouns – grammar notes are usually present. The dictionary also concentrates on idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs, which are explained by means of examples and notes. All the items that were searched are registered in the history window, where they are kept for further reference.

The Appendix is extremely useful, above all for beginners. It contains, among other things, the commonest differences between American and British English, tables of prepositions, numbers, dates and time, countries, nouns and adjectives of nationality, and a list of the most widely used irregular verbs.

The Appendix has also a wide range of lexical exercises linked with the words explained in the dictionary. It is a good way of revising the knowledge of vocabulary, and a stimulation to check over the most difficult words and constructions.

English has become the major international language, and the use of multimedial learning aids is becoming more and more widespread nowadays. As a modern means of making the teaching of English more pleasant and effective for foreign learners, the dictionary can also be used at school as a support to a grammar or course book.

Passport Electronic Dictionary drills – to repeat the words of Rivers and Temperley (in A Practical Guide to the Teaching of English as a Second or Foreign Language) – "the knowledge of a basic vocabulary" which will "ensure that students know the most widely used words which provide the framework of any sentence, thus revealing to them a set of relationships which will serve as a basis for 'intelligent guessing' or 'inferencing' when they encounter unfamiliar content words". The use of this dictionary can also enhance the process of word-formation, and – as part of the strict connection between lexis and grammar – help learners improve their language as a whole.

Marina Gambacciani graduated in Foreign Languages and Literature at Pisa University. She teaches English and German in Italian secondary schools, writes for literary reviews, and is co-author of Grammar in Action.

K Dictionaries Ltd
10 Nahum Street, Tel Aviv 63503 Israel
tel: 972-3-5468102 • fax: 972-3-5468103