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Chinese (Mandarin), Conversational: Learn to Speak and Understand Mandarin Chinese with Pimsleur Language Programs Audio CD – Audiobook, Nov 1 2005


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Product Details

  • Audio CD: 8 pages
  • Publisher: Pimsleur; 2nd Edition, 16 Lessons edition (Nov. 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743550498
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743550499
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #169,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Lerner on Nov. 19 2013
Format: Audio CD
The strengths and weaknesses of the Pimsleur method have been well-documented. I love the interactive nature of the lessons, they really force you to think and remember. However, the introduction of a wider vocabulary is very slow. The material pays a lot of attention to tones and cadence. The problem of tonal inflection is the greatest hurdle to overcome going from English to Mandarin. I also appreciated the emphasis on cadence. Knowing where to pause in a sentence really helps to convey the proper meaning. I felt, however, that the instruction did not sufficiently deal with the distinction between "qu" (to go), "chi" (to eat), and "che" (vehicle). To the English ear these sounds are very similar. For Chinese speakers, these sounds (and the tongue positions) are completely different. In general, the Mandarin pronunciation was standard and satisfactory. You could visit any Mandarin speaking community and communicate successfully using the Pimsleur framework. The final issue is cost. The Pimsleur lessons are expensive. They do, however, provide an abundance of repetition and are as close to a live tutor as you will find in the audio language-learning market. I would be remiss if I did not also mention Elizabeth Scurfield. Her original language tapes (from the 1980s) set a very high standard.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 72 reviews
158 of 161 people found the following review helpful
A great starter June 7 2006
By Colin McLarty - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Obviously the course you chose should depend on what you want as well as how you learn. This Pimsleur course offers conversational Mandarin, not reading or writing. In fact that is what I want right now. It proceeds almost entirely by immersion with very little discussion of grammar or pronunciation. That is not perfect for me, though it might be for you. I will come back to it. This Pimsleur course is entirely audio and so is very well suited to learning as you drive or walk or whatever.

This is very convenient but there is another reason for it: Pimsleur has theory that if you look at written Mandarin (or any language) too early then you will have trouble acquiring a native accent, because you will pronounce the written Mandarin with an American accent (supposing you are American...). This may be exactly right, if Mandarin is only your second language. If you have already learned several languages with reasonably correct accents then maybe you will have less tendency to make that mistake.

The problem with immersion-only Mandarin for me is that this is an intimidating language for Americans. The musical tone of each vowel changes the meaning of a word and the tones are hard for me to learn.

So I am going to cheat on Pimsleur by also using Chinesepod downloads (mp3) and their written supplements. Sometimes I really can't be sure if a syllable on the Pimsleur CD begins with b or d. I can't always tell if a tone is rising or falling (although the narrator often steps in to help with that). So I will look it up. If Mandarin is your first foreign language maybe you should start with straight Pimsleur for just the reasons they give. Mandarin, even more than most European languages, is useless if you do not have a good accent.

The other course I tried was Living Language Ultimate Mandarin. That course is not only conversation. It comes with a very nice textbook. And it requires that you spend considerable time working with the book in front of you, and so not driving or otherwise "on the go." They said their course was the equivalent of 2 years of college courses and that may be true. It aims at all around mastery of spoken and written Mandarin including the simplified character writing used on the Mainland and exposure to the traditional characters used on Taiwan and in Hong Kong. I do not expect to ever reach that level, and anyway I would probably start with Pimsleur and Chinesepod.

Pimsleur courses are reliably very good.
57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Good starter May 28 2006
By Daniel Scallon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Pimsleur is good for getting your feet wet but it's also lacking in that it only teaches you a few conversation topics. It stresses pronounciation of words and making your tones match the speakers on the disc, but tells you nothing about the four tones of Chinese (found that out the hard way). It also does not go much into sentence construction, only forming a pre-meditated sentence.

I give it 4 stars because as a beginner with no prior experience in Mandarin, it let me get a grasp of what I would be studying in more in-depth lessons. So if you know absolutely --nothing-- about Mandarin then I recommend Pimsleur.

P.S. Don't get the four disc version. The eight disc-er has the first four and nothing's different.
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Good, but you should know you won't learn too much Jan. 26 2010
By Mitch Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I really think this is a good method of learning, particularly Chinese. The people I know who speak English as a second language best are people who learned it by watching TV, not by studying. This second group of people often has the worst accents. Since the hardest part of Mandarin is the pronunciation, I figured the best approach would be to go alphabet-free for the first few years of my study. These CDs just allow you to listen and try to imitate, which I think is the best way.

Now the bad thing is that you really will not learn very much. You're not even going to learn the basics with these 7 CDs. What you will learn is several phrases (and most of the individual words in those phrases), but I've listened to these CD's over and over for the past year (to practice the pronunciation multiple times) and what I've learned from these CDs in the past year I feel I could have learned in about an hour or two in any European language (for which the pronunciation is a lot easier).

Also, the ad above says this is the "first half" of the comphrehensive set. That's true only if you consider the comhrehensive set to consist in the first set (I out of III). It is indeed the first half of the first set of the comphrehensive set.

I would recommend these CDs to anyone just starting out. I didn't expect to learn a ton of Chinese, just to practice pronunciation, but even I was surprised at how little Chinese I ended up learning by the end. There are so many pauses and repeats in the CDs that I think they could easily have taught twice the material in the CDs provided. It might sound like a lot of pauses and repetition would be good, but I can just repeat the cd myself (and I did). I'd rather they put more material on the CD so I could learn more once I finished learning a CD.
55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
Too Little Vocabulary/I Prefer Behind the Wheel Chinese July 4 2006
By Shannon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The problem with the Pimsleur approach is that they teach far too little vocabulary. You go on and on learning just a few words, and worse. You have to tolerate the 'gradual intervail recall system' which means you have to listen to entire half hour to follow their rigid program and if you don't, your memory technique is wasted.

This means that if you have, say, ten minutes in which to commute to work, you will listen to the same ten minutes teaching the same ten words over and over.

Your other alternative is to keep your finger glued to the fast forward button. There are no

'multiple track' opitons.

I greatly prefer the Behind the Wheel Chinese/Mandarin course.

The amount of vocabulary taught here far exceeds that of Pimsleur. Furthermore,

each CD has a sentence building section (8 CDs in all) that teach you basic sentence formation to accompany the vocabulary. There are two native Mandarin speakers on the CDs.

Even better, Behind the Wheel Chinese has multiple tracks which makes sailing through a review a piece of cake.

I gave Pimsleur four stars just because I'm sure it could work for some people.

I have tried other Pimsleur and Behind the Wheel courses and I always reach the same conclusion.

No contest in any language.

Behind the Wheel Chinese is way ahead in all categories.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
I love Pimsleur's method, but NOT FOR STARTING Mandarin. Needs more explanation, not "listen and repeat". April 13 2008
By Derek Sivers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I love Pimsleur's method, but NOT FOR STARTING Mandarin. Needs more explanation, not "listen and repeat".

For an English speaker, Mandarin requires more up-front explanation of how the pitched syllables work.

I've used Pimsleur's audio CDs for learning basic Japanese and Spanish and *LOVED* it.

But when I bought Pimsleur's Mandarin, I was stumped. I couldn't even imitate the very first sentence, no matter how many times I went back and tried again. My mouth just didn't know how to make that sound. And there was no explanation, just "listen and repeat".

After an hour of trying one sentence of this Pimsleur Mandarin, I had to give up. Knowing there must be a better way, I was about to take private lessons.

Instead, the brand new "Michel Thomas Method" to Mandarin has just been released by Dr. Harold Goodman and it made all the difference in the world. A completely different approach that I feel needs to come FIRST, BEFORE you get into the Pimsleur method.

In the Michel Thomas method, someone really takes the time to explain the sounds and grammar. No memorization, just explanation then experience. It gets you really understanding the basic building blocks of Mandarin first, so that when you're done with its 10-hour audio CD program, THEN you can come back here to Pimsleur's Mandarin and it'll all make sense.

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