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Ultimate Chinese (Mandarin) Beginner-Intermediate (Book) [Large Print] [Paperback]

Living Language
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Paperback, Large Print, Aug. 24 2004 --  
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Ultimate Chinese Beginner-Intermediate (Coursebook) Ultimate Chinese Beginner-Intermediate (Coursebook) 4.0 out of 5 stars (1)
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Book Description

Aug. 24 2004 Ultimate Beginner-Intermediate
This deluxe course has everything you need to learn Mandarin from scratch or to revive the Mandarin that you learned years ago. Ultimate Chinese combines conversation and culture in an easy-to-follow, enjoyable, and effective format. It’s the perfect way to learn Mandarin for school, for travel, for work, or for personal enrichment. In this book you’ll find:

• 40 lessons with lively dialogues including the most common and useful idiomatic expressions.
• English translations and explanations of Mandarin grammar and usage, pronunciation, vocabulary, and culture notes.
• Quizzes and review sections to check your progress.
• A complete summary of Mandarin grammar, and verb charts covering all major tenses.
• A section on letter writing for business or social occasions.
• An extensive two-way glossary.
• Up-to-date computer and Internet vocabulary, information on euros, and more!

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Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Nov. 19 2005
Format:Paperback
I found this book to be very good and well worth the price. Even though it is mostly geared towards conversation and vocabulary through conversational dialogues using pinyin, it covers some very basic Chinese characters as well. Each chapter covers a specific topic or gives a specific situational dialogue between a few people. I found this method of instruction very useful/helpful. The new vocabulary is shown almost entirely in pinyin except for the few odd words which also show up as Chinese characters. If you want to learn how to read Chinese, this is probably not a good book by itself. I have no hesitation in recommending this book for anyone interested in learning to speak Mandarin. Real beginners would probably find the kit (book & CDs) to be a better choice since it is difficult to learn any new language by just following a book.
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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
108 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best in class Aug. 8 2005
By Christopher J. Deasy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The only portion this series misses is the written, but that's not what they were aiming for. I have lived in Shanghai and traveled to various parts of China. The voices on CD are very realistic and relaxed, helping the student to understand ordinary speakers - rather than the "standard" Beijing pronunciation. I urge students to use the CD's alot along with the instructions. I found the grammar explanations far superior to any other text I have seen out there- and through 2 years of formal training and 2 practical (in the street) I have not seen a more balanced approach to subject and grammar (Much better than Pimsleur). My wife is Chinese and agrees with the points I have made here. She said there was a definite improvement after I studied these CD's (as opposed to my classroom instruction - not the teacher's fault though, in case she reads this).

Hope this helps!
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great program with some minor drawbacks Aug. 3 2007
By M. Wang - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've been using Ultimate Mandarin Chinese for about three months now, and have gotten through about two-thirds of the course. The recordings are very clear, the book is very simple (no graphics or fancy stuff), but with comprehensive grammar explanations, some homework, and lots of useful dialogs and vocabulary.

If you complete the book and learn every lesson well, you can expect to be at the mid-intermediate level of speaking/understanding. You will know about 1500-2000 words, and you will be able to discuss pretty much any subject, although nothing in much depth. You'll also have a slight Beijing accent, and you'll have some brief exposure to Chinese daily life customs, and mainland Chinese culture. The book does not cover the southern accent or Taiwanese/Singaporean/etc. culture.

Although the book is marketed as beginner-intermediate, it moves very quickly. By lesson 15, the dialogs are spoken at a very fast, conversational pace, and the vocabulary starts to become specialized far beyond the standard tourist fare. The dialogs are excellent for listening comprehension because of the speed, while the vocabulary is pretty extensive. The book is also very grammar heavy, which serves as an excellent complement to Pimsleur Comprehensive Mandarin, which is heavy on speaking skills, but not grammar.

Where the course suffers, however, is in the voice actors, the editing, and the lack of writing. One of the male voice actors has a terrible, nearly incomprehensible accent that sounds awkward and foreign (he is the male speaker in Lesson 15), and each of the lessons that he's featured on is rather painful to the ear. I suspect that is not a native speaker of Mandarin and that, moreover, he is not a trained voice actor. Secondly, the editing of the text is rather poor--there are a number of typos, mostly with tone marks. Thirdly, the course is written almost entirely in pinyin, with only about 200-300 characters in the whole book. I have gotten around this problem by transcribing the pinyin into MSWord IME with the appropriate Simplified Characters, but this is a bit of a hassle, especially given the number of Chinese homonyms.

Overall, I think this is a great course, especially when used in conjunction with other materials (i.e., Pimsleur, Chinese in a Flash cards). With the inclusion of Hanzi and some edits, I think it could be even better. I don't think that it's the ultimate one-stop-shop for Mandarin language learning, but it is certainly worth the price and more.
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good start. May 15 2005
By lingvistika - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a good, thorough introduction to spoken Mandarin Chinese. The dialogues contain pertinent, everyday vocabulary, there is enough grammar to make it possible to comprehend how the sentences are constructed. There are two sets of CD tracks for each lesson. One set helps you practice the dialogues and vocabulary, and the other explains grammar, although I would recommend reading the full grammar explanations in the chapters as well as listening to the recorded ones. I find this book and CD set pleasant to use and easy to follow.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good introduction. May 26 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This a great set to start out with, it stresses speaking more than anything but you learn to read and write about 200 characters.

The 2 sets of CDs are great in that one is for use with the text, although I wish more of the text was available on the CDs but you also receive a second set of CDs that are for studying on the run.

The set is great because you get amazing practice with tones and vocabulary and of course you learn about 5 characters per lesson, with 40 lessons in all. I really like the set and will use it even during the school year for reviewing grammar rules and conversations.

All in all, worth even the full $79.95 despite one reviewer stating it's confusing, it is set up like a non-intensive 1 semester college elementary Mandarin class. Well organized and easy to follow and learn from. I'd suggest it as a supplement to your college class too!
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It depends on what you want. June 7 2006
By Colin McLarty - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This program aims to do what a college course would, and I think it succeeds at that. It teaches conversation, with much grammar, and some reading and writing of Chinese. After using it for a week (from the library) I decided not to stay with it. Right now I want much more focus on conversation, and in fact on conversation useful on a first trip to China. And I want to use only "on the go" audio. This program aims at a more thorough knowledge of Chinese spoken and written than I hope for right now -- so I want to be clear I am not faulting the series. It depends on what you want.

I have decided to go with the Pimsleur CDs (Pimsleur worked well for me in German, and Italian). As an example of the difference: Living Language starts out teaching you how to ask someone about their family, while Pimsleur starts out teaching you how to ask if someone speaks English. I have one year to prepare for one week in Beijing. It is absolutely certain that I will sometimes need to find someone who speaks English, and it is unlikely I will ask many people about their family life. Again this is not to fault the different goals of the Living Language program.

Pimsleur is an audio-only course, entirely suitable for use while driving, and by design they teach you nothing about written Chinese. And they have very little explicitly on grammar or pronunciation. You are supposed to get those from immersion. I am supplementing them with Chinesepod downloads which are even faster paced immerison than Pimsleur but also come with written material so they are not *only* immersion. This is the balance I want right now.
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