Give Children a Chinese Dictionary 給孩子一本漢語詞典

這篇文章會探討「字典」、「詞典」與「辭典」的分別、使用紙本詞典的原因和如何選購中文詞典。文末附有幾本好廣東話詞典的簡單介紹。This article will discuss the differences between the three most common Chinese terms of dictionaries 字典, 詞典, and 辭典, reasons for using physical dictionaries, and factors to consider when choosing a Chinese dictionary. At the end of the article, there will also be brief descriptions of a few good Cantonese Dictionary.

First of all, these Chinese terms, all translated as "dictionary", can be confusing. 首先,這幾種"dictionary"很相似,但性質有點不一樣。

字典 Character Dictionary

(ㄗˋ ㄉㄧㄢˇ/zì diǎn)A reference book that focuses on characters and explains the meaning of the character and how it should be written and pronounced. 以字為單位的工具書,著重解釋文字的形、音、義。

詞典 Word Dictionary

(ㄘˊ ㄉㄧㄢˇ/cí diǎn)A reference book that focuses on words. It gives meanings and uses of words and sorted according to the first character, of which the meaning is usually provided. 以詞語為單位的工具書,著重解釋詞語的意思和用法。詞典按單字起頭分立條目,一般先解釋起頭的單字,再列出詞語。

辭典 Specialized Dictionary

(ㄘˊ ㄉㄧㄢˇ/cí diǎn)A reference book that has a specific purpose. Word dictionary is a kind of specialized dictionary. Other examples of specialized dictionary include idiom dictionary and medical dictionary. 一種有特定功能的工具書,例如:詞典、成語辭典、醫學辭典等。

Reasons for Using Physical Dictionaries 使用紙本詞典的原因

With well-developed apps and online sites, some of us may forget we can buy physical dictionaries for language learning. There are a few reasons why our children need physical dictionaries.

  1. Physical books encourage more learning because it is easier to flip pages than to think of another character to look up in order to read more. Or sometimes, there might be phrases or illustrations on the next few pages that catch your attention. You can easily learn related words (words with the same radicals or similar parts) by reading around the character you first look up. Physical books allow learners to learn characters they are not familiar with.

  2. Children do NOT need to learn how to type in order to use the dictionary. Just apply the basic knowledge they learn from their Chinese teachers about Chinese characters (e.g., radicals and number of strokes).

  3. Physical dictionaries will NOT lure children to other games or games in your device.

  4. Dictionaries are interesting books, just like other kinds of books. They deserve to be a part of your home library! When I was young, sometimes I would just take out a dictionary and flick through it. I always learned something new about the language! And it was fun!

如何選購中文詞典 How to Choose Chinese Dictionaries

  1. Learners need a good Chinese dictionary to build up their vocabulary—as word learning is more important and complex than character learning. Instead of focusing on the history and fun facts about characters, learners should have a word dictionary that helps them learn new words or phrases. Reading a lot helps, but intentional vocabulary learning makes learning even more effective.

  2. Speaking of intentional vocabulary learning, children need examples in order to understand how the new words should be used.

  3. Even native speakers need helpful pronunciation guides to help them learn new characters. Make sure the pronunciation systems used in the dictionary are suitable for your family. For example, since there is not a standard pronunciation system for Cantonese learning in Hong Kong, some dictionaries use Jyutping while some choose International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For children who know IPA (because of their English learning), IPA might look familiar and they can easily get the hang of it. However, for those who have never learned IPA, the IPA symbols might be intimidating.

  4. Check the layout and design of the inside pages. Make sure it is easy to locate information and read. Avoid dictionaries that appear boring or overwhelming to your children. Learn about their preferences when they read textbooks or other reference books.

  5. Some children want more fun in books. Dictionaries with illustrations, stories, or jokes might be more appealing to them.

  6. You might want to have a perfect dictionary for your family. However, in reality, we usually need more than one dictionary for different purposes. Just keep an open mind!

廣東話詞典推介 Good Cantonese Dictionaries

Here are a few good Cantonese dictionaries that can be found online. They all follow the Hong Kong Elementary School Chinese character learning guidelines provided by the Education Bureau. If you are using some other good Canto dictionaries, please share with us! 以下是網上能找到的好廣東話詞典/字典,都是按香港教育局提供的《香港小學學習字詞表》所編製。當然,如果你有其他好字典,一定和與我們分享啊!




Published in June 2020

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  • Mandarin pronunciation: Zhuyin, Pinyin 普通話拼音:注音、漢語拼音

  • Cantonese pronunciation: IPA, simple sound character 廣東話拼音:國際音標、直音字

  • With stroke orders 附筆順

  • With illustrations occasionally 有時附插圖

  • With sample phrases or sentences 附短語或句子作例子

  • Suitable for native Chinese elementary and middle school children 適合漢語為母語的小學與初中生




Published in April 2018

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  • Mandarin pronunciation: Pinyin 普通話拼音:漢語拼音

  • Cantonese pronunciation: Jyutping, simple sound character 廣東話拼音:粵拼、直音字

  • With Simplified Chinese and variant characters 附簡體、異體字

  • With language usage boxes and sample phrases or sentences 附語文學習框及以短語或句子作例子

  • Chosen by many schools in Hong Kong 很多香港學校選用




Published in September 2017

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  • Mandarin pronunciation: Pinyin 普通話拼音:漢語拼音

  • Cantonese pronunciation: Jyutping, simple sound character 廣東話拼音:粵拼、直音字

  • With Simplified Chinese characters 附簡體字對照

  • With some sample words, phrases or sentences 附詞語、短語或句子作例子




Published in July 2016

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  • Mandarin pronunciation: Pinyin 普通話拼音:漢語拼音

  • Cantonese pronunciation: Jyutping, simple sound character 廣東話拼音:粵拼、直音字

  • With Simplified Chinese and variant characters 附簡體、異體字對照

  • With notes on writing some characters 易錯字條目附說明

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