Oxford Releases a New Region-Specific Dictionary For East Africa

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Oxford University Press (OUP), the largest university press in the world, has just released the third edition of their popular Oxford Primary Dictionary for Eastern Africa.  (OPDEA)

The release of the dictionary highlights Oxford University Press’ mission, working closely with their team based in Kenya to create world-class academic and educational resources and make them available as widely as possible.

It has been developed to meet the needs of Primary school students in Kenya, where the OUPEA team identified a demand for up to date vocabulary, with culturally appropriate examples tailored to the curriculum vocabulary for classes 4-8.

“The launch of the third edition of the OPDEA is a milestone in learning and teaching of English in Primary Schools in Kenya. Not only does this dictionary have additional vocabulary, but also has 600 illustrations which reflect the people, environment and the culture of Eastern Africa.

“We believe that the addition of this feature will go a long way in aiding students’ comprehension and retention of words. This dictionary has been made child-friendly, with shorter entries, written in simpler language and larger text size, making it the ideal dictionary for all Primary Students in East Africa’’ said Oxford University Press East Africa, General Manager, John Mwazemba.

The new edition includes over 650 new words, including new English words such as “tweet” and “antivirus”, syllabus vocabulary for classes 4-8 in Kenya such as “upbringing”, and East African English words like “bodaboda” and “kitenge”. OUP has developed this dictionary with a view to give children the vocabulary to communicate at a local level.

”By publishing a dictionary that can be used by all East African Children in Primary Schools, OUP has demonstrated the importance of collaboration in developing learning materials that are regionally accepted by all learners. The inclusion of Kiswahili words as accepted East African English demonstrates that indeed languages are living.It was Gilbert Highet who said that ‘Language is a living thing. We can feel it changing. Parts of it become old: they drop off and are forgotten. New pieces bud out, spread into leaves, and become big branches, proliferating, ”explained Betty Maina, Principal Secretary, EA Community.

The format of Oxford Primary Dictionary for Eastern Africa is different to traditional dictionaries -it has been made child-friendly, with shorter entries written in simpler language and larger text size.

“Our launch theme English language skills for the 21st Century in East Africa, derives from Oxford University Press East Africa’s strategic plan to meet the growing demand and new thinking of a 21st Century publisher.  We are witnessing an accelerating change in the needs of our readers and we are moving to meet those needs. We keep updating and revising our dictionaries as we are aware we are publishing for living languages and new words keep cropping up. OUP has vast online and offline resources to cater for our reader’s needs”, said Oxford University Press East Africa, General Manager, John Mwazemba.

The keynote address was given by Mwalimu John Sib-Okumu, notable radio and TV presenter, author and playwright .

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