Though I majored in French and English in college, I somehow made it through my studies with only a pocket-size French English Dictionary from the early 1980s. I had no idea how impressive a dictionary could be until I began teaching and purchased a two-and-a-half-inch thick, five pound French Unabridged Dictionary from Collins Robert for classroom use. When a translation question arose that I couldn't answer, the student who volunteered to be the daily fée du dictionnaire (dictionary fairy, with optional wand, ID tag, and tiara) would find the answer in that massive dictionary. But ever since I downloaded the Collins-Robert Concise French Dictionary App as a stay-at-home mama, I've been amazed at how useful a dictionary app can be.
Why use a language dictionary app?
1. Convenience: With your smart phone near you most of the day, a dictionary app is within reach when you find gaps in your language knowledge or when your memory fails you. It's also a smart option for traveling because it's already downloaded and shouldn't need an internet connection to function.
2. Speed: It's actually much faster to type a word (or the beginning of a word) than to find the word in a hardbound dictionary. A good app will also provide relevant suggestions if you misspell or mistype a word.
3. Updates: App updates can keep pace with technology terms, slang, and other words you're unsure how to translate.
4. Content: Good dictionary apps include verb tenses, conjugations, and idiomatic phrases that might otherwise require multiple reference books.
My favorite French English dictionaries are those published by Collins Robert; I love them simply for their sheer breadth and depth of content as well as their clear organization. Collins Robert provides a free online French English Dictionary here, though it's quite basic in comparison to their Concise Dictionary app. (Ultralingua provides the software for their apps while Collins Robert provides the content.)
Why the Collins Robert Concise French Dictionary App from Ultralingua is worth the price:
Because this app was priced at $19.99 several years ago, I might never have purchased it if I hadn't received an iTunes gift card one Christmas. However, having used the app for four years now, I believe it is still worth the price (it currently costs $16.99).
- Content: This dictionary contains 57,000 entries as well as verb tenses and conjugations, noun genders, pronunciation, and parts of speech. In terms of idioms, nuances, and example phrasing, this may be as extensive as a bilingual dictionary could be.
- Features: You can easily "star" the words you've found and review them again with one button. You can sort this word list alphabetically or by date. This is an amazing tool for learning since reviewing words is so helpful for memory retention.
- Organization: The screen is simple and uses blue text to make word entries stand out. Highlight words with one click to reverse the language or to view verb conjugations.
A note for Americans: The English content of the Collins Robert dictionary (and many other French dictionaries) is based on British English, so as an American I occasionally find certain American words are not listed. Nonetheless, the folks at Collins Robert do make an effort to include a fair amount of American words and idioms, so I'm still convinced this is the most complete and user-friendly French English dictionary app available.
I wish you the best of luck in your language progress!
Disclaimer: I did not receive any incentive from Harper Collins Publishers or Ultralingua to review these products. I do receive a small payback from Amazon.com if you choose to purchase any books via my links.