Speaking several languages means owning a few board feet of dictionaries. In Spanish, the Cortina is my favorite concise dictionary. Its got a clean, easy to read typeface and a livey modern style. The gender of nouns is easily visible, right up front, before the definition. Word gender, (which doesn't exist in English) is key to speaking or spelling Spanish, and getting good grades in class. I own a variey of Spanish dictionaries of varying price and complexity. I bought the Cortina for my own kids, and reccomended it to my neighbors. It should be useful from Jr. High up to about second year college Spanish. It would last till the first literature class, when you might have to get something more complex.