A critique of the Shona–Chinese bilingual dictionary as a reference material in teaching and learning of Shona/Chinese language


  • Herbert Mushangwe University of Zimbabwe
  • Muchinei Musona Hebei University




Shona–Chinese bilingual dictionary, Language teaching, Critical analysis


The present paper analyses the Shona–Chinese bilingual dictionary in relation with the teaching of the Chinese language to native speakers of the Shona language or teaching of the Shona language-to-Chinese people in Zimbabwe. The main aim of this paper is to give a critical analysis that will help improve this dictionary or other future similar dictionaries. The data used in this article are based on the headwords in the dictionary as well as the experience of teaching Chinese over 1 year. The Shona–Chinese bilingual dictionary is a remarkable step towards developing local Chinese teaching materials in Zimbabwe. The data analysis showed that to increase the usefulness of this dictionary as a complementary teaching reference book, there are a number of areas that need to be perfected. Some of the critical aspects that require attention include: the meanings of headwords should be defined as they are used in the target language, and all important headwords in daily conversations should be included in the dictionary. It was recommended that a more thoroughly revised dictionary should be produced to provide high-quality teaching materials of this sort.


Agerbo, H. 2016. The incorporation of specialized data in lexicographical meaning explanations: A discussion based on sports and fitness terms. Lexikos 26: 1–35.

Aleevaa, G.K., and G.R. Safiullin. 2016. Using dictionaries in teaching english as a foreign language. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education 11 (9): 2727–2734.

Ametller, J., and R. Pinto. 2002. Students’ reading of innovative images of energy at secondary school level. International Journal of Science Education 24 (3): 285–312.

Carney, R.N., and J.R. Levin. 2002. Pictorical illustrations still improve students’ learning from text. Educational Psychology Review 14: 5–26.

Chebanne, A. 2010. The role of dictionaries in the documentation and codification of african languages: The case of Khoisan. Lexikos 20: 92–108.

Clark, R.C., and C. Lyons. 2004. Graphics for learning: Proven guidelines for planning, designing, and evaluation visuals in training materials. San Francisco, CA: Pfieffer.

Fries, C. 1945. Teaching and learning english as a foreign language. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

Ilson, R. 1985. Introduction. In Dictionaries, lexicography and language learning, ed. R. Ilson. Oxford: The British Council & Pergamon Press.

Levary, D., P. Eckmann, E. Moses, and T. Tlusty. 2010. Loops and self-reference in the construction of dictionaries. Physical Review X 2: 1–10.

Lew, R. 2015. Dictionaries and their users. Hanks. In International handbook of modern lexis and lexicography Patrick and de Schryver, ed. Gilles-Maurice, 1–9. Berlin: Springer.

Mao, S.Z. 2008. Teaching Chinese as a foreign language: Pronunciation. Shanghai: East China Normal University Press.

Makoni, M. 2015. Shona-Chinese dictionary to be launched this month. University World News. 06 November 2015 Issue No.162, http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20151105163521804.

Mataire, L.R. 2015. https://www.herald.co.zw/prof-mashiri-makes-history/. Accessed 14 Feb 2018

Mushangwe, H. 2012. Comparative analysis of Chinese and Shona tones. Journal of Comparative Literature and Culture (JCLC) 2 (2): 102–116.

Mushangwe, H. 2015. Quest for an iconic tone marks in Shona. In Current trends in linguistics; a Festschrift in honour of chief Mkanganwi, ed. Mugari, V., L. Mukaro and E. Chabata, 182–191. Harare: University of Zimbabwe Publications.

Mushangwe, H., and L. Mutonga. 2014. Comparative analysis of the Chinese and Shona Language’s consonant system. Journals of Advanced Linguistic Studies (JALS) 3: 118–135.

Mashiri, P., Y. Lin, H. Mushangwe, L. Mukaro, E. Chabata, V. Mugari, M. Musona, A. Dhumukwa, and G. Chisoni (eds.). 2015. Shona—Chinese, Chinese—Shona dictionary with english glosses. Harare: University of Zimbabwe Publications.

Nida, E. 1958. Analysis of meaning and dictionary making. International Journal of American Linguistics 24: 279–292.

Orekan, G. 2011. Mother tongue medium as an efficient way of challenging educational disadvantages in Africa: The case of Nigeria. Scottish Languages Review Issue 23: 27–38.

Xu, L. 2015. http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-11/25/c_134851011.htm. Accessed 14 Feb 2018



How to Cite

Mushangwe, H., & Musona, M. (2018). A critique of the Shona–Chinese bilingual dictionary as a reference material in teaching and learning of Shona/Chinese language. Lexicography, 4(2), 135–151. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40607-018-0032-3