5.0 out of 5 stars Supurb.
This instruction set is supurb!
It consists of two sets of tapes. The first set follows the included text book and is to be used in conjunction. The second set is for driving, or anywhere the book isn't or can't be used. Unlike other instruction sets, the tapes are mirrors of each other and use different constructions, phrases, and/or speakers. This gives you some...
Published on April 17 2002 by David Shamma
3.0 out of 5 stars Happy to have the affordable review lessons, but ...
I agree with most of the previously written criticisms for this book and tape set. I came to it as a previous student of the language and found that in many ways this was a useful way to refresh a lot of what I'd previously learned. The cost of the set is outstanding, considering a local Berlitz office wanted $25,000!!! for a 6 month course of one on one training. (I...
Published on Nov 4 2003 by J. Quigg
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3.0 out of 5 stars Happy to have the affordable review lessons, but ...,
This review is from: Ultimate Chinese (Mandarin): Basic-Intermediate: Cassette/Book Package (Audio Cassette)I agree with most of the previously written criticisms for this book and tape set. I came to it as a previous student of the language and found that in many ways this was a useful way to refresh a lot of what I'd previously learned. The cost of the set is outstanding, considering a local Berlitz office wanted $25,000!!! for a 6 month course of one on one training. (I suppose we can thank Gov't contracting for that kind of pricing.) While I haven't scoured this book and tape set, I have put the travel tapes to a lot of use and found this approach to covering the lessons to be a good refresher. However, this product could have made the 4 star rating pretty easily if, as a previous reviewer had mentioned, Ms. Humphries had paid a bit more attention to detail. I don't have any examples written out, but in numerous situations on each side of each of the 4 travel tapes the translations are pretty loose. Using the Pimsleur recordings as a comparison, there is NO room for interp on those - giving a pretty secure feeling that you're getting a solid item-for-item exhange of wording ... whereas the "Ulitmate Mandarin Chinese" taped sentances are often frustratingly broad and sometimes inconsistant with other similar sentances/phrases on the tapes. The ?unintentional? benefit for someone in the reviewing process is it gets you thinking more about the options of how say something ... however, for those coming to this stuff new, this aspect would seem to be a bit problematic.
As for the previously mentioned speaker on the tapes with the rushed, slurred speech ... he's a bit of a departure from your usual "Language Tape" dude, but probably useful in terms of dealing with the language as very possibly encountered around the various parts of the "real" Mandarin speaking world. To that end, a very good intermediate level course to check out is another of the "Living Language" series ... "Conversational English for Chinese Speakers". 4 tapes of Mandarin phrases (w/english tranlations) by a fluent speaker, speaking to other fluent speakers that are sprucing up on their english. Definitely a workout! But it'll give a real sense of how a lot of basic to intermediate vocab/phrasing would really sound up to speed. Think of it as a somewhat more managable (rewindable) version of the same shock you'll get the first time you step off the plane in Beijing and find out that all the Mandarin Language tapes you've been coddled by for so long ("Wo hen hao. Ni ne?")may as well have been Urdu.
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good resource,
This review is from: Ultimate Chinese (Mandarin): Basic-Intermediate: Cassette/Book Package (Audio Cassette)I used this set on and off for about a year and was surprised at how much I learned. I only got through the first 16 lessons, but I feel that with a more rigorous practice schedule I could have learned much more. My Chinese colleagues were very impressed with my speaking abilites after a few months- I could talk about clothes, food, times and dates, places, and ask simple questions about families and activities. I think I would be ok going to China and checking into a hotel, ordering food, or taking public transportation.
This set has much more material than many book & tape sets. I spent a lot of time on each lesson and studied the book carefully. Many times a new concept will be slipped in to the dialogue a lesson or two before it is formally introduced. I wish the glossaries were more complete, and there are a few odd bits to the recordings (like making the pause too short on occasion), but overall I feel the book and cassette set is well worth the price.
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but some noteworthy shortcomings.,
This review is from: Ultimate Chinese (Mandarin): Basic-Intermediate: Cassette/Book Package (Audio Cassette)After a hiatus of a few years, I've recently begun reviewing the Mandarin I previously learned. I purchased this book-and-recordings set for this purpose. Compared to what I have used in the past and what is presently available in the mass market, this set is a good solid beginning to what could be later excellent editions. A higher rating would've been easily possible if some simple quality control measures were exercised.
I agree with the previous comments that this set is better suited to the intermediate student, in large part because the grammar section gives sparse treatment to the topics it covers. The book stands out in its use of contemporary--yet grammatically correct--dialogue. Also, many of the recordings are quite good in further developing the intermediate student's ear for the distinct tones used in Mandarin.
Some comments about the cassette tapes: The female voices and one of the male voices are excellent. Their well-articulated speech goes far in training the ear to recognize words and their meanings. However, gabble dominates one of the male voices (perhaps two--I can't discern whether there is another, third male voice). This particular male voice sounds like a student reading text. The frequent result is rushed, inarticulate speech. Slowing the speech down (my cassette player is able to do this) is of little help--the "run-on" words and slurring simply become more apparent.
My last criticism of the tapes regards the repeated dialogue. After the dialogue is initially spoken at a normal pace, it is repeated again with pauses deliberately inserted, apparently to encourage the student to repeat the dialogue. The repeated dialogue is not created by having the speakers "re-speak" it. It is done simply by inserting pauses in the initial recorded dialogue. Two problems result: First, except for the effect of the pauses, the repeated dialogue is just as fast and, in some cases, just as inarticulate, as is the initial dialogue. Second, the pauses are often inserted in unnatural places--sometimes between a word. This is because the speakers don't "re-speak" the dialogue with extended pauses. In other words, the natural pauses that exist in natural speech could have been easily lengthened. Instead the authors chose to simply repeat the first dialogue and insert breaks here and there. These unnatural pauses conflict with the way we learn because when we hear speech, we absorb (or attempt to absorb) chunks of full meanings and concepts, not partial ones. So when the student repeats a truncated phrase, he doesn't really know what he is uttering because the phrase's meaning is incomplete.
Despite these weaknesses, this is a good text-and-recordings set, one of the better ones available in the mass market. The three stars I've rated it is not meant to compare it to what is currently available in the market, but rather reflect its shortcomings against what is possible.
4.0 out of 5 stars For Mandarin Intermediate only,
By A Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Not appropriate if you can read Chinese characters,
4.0 out of 5 stars Great intro for English speakers,
If you don't mind rewinding constantly, it is an A++ course.
(FYI, I transferred the audio to MD disks, and set tracks to the beginnings of the "Duihua" (dialogues) to make it easier)
5.0 out of 5 stars Supurb.,
It consists of two sets of tapes. The first set follows the included text book and is to be used in conjunction. The second set is for driving, or anywhere the book isn't or can't be used. Unlike other instruction sets, the tapes are mirrors of each other and use different constructions, phrases, and/or speakers. This gives you some variability, so you don't just pick up a pattern of the tape.
The book walks you through serveral practical chapters, "at the office" or "eating dumplings", etc. The focus of each chapter is used in some context to introduce not only vocabulary, but also struture notes and grammar. So much better than simply providing catch phrases. In little time (by the third lesson), a user can construct simple sentances and understand speakers. At the end of each chapter, it introduces some hanzi (characters) but focuses more so on pin-ing romanization. Learning to speak and learing to read are really two seperate tasks, but its good of this set not to completely ignore reading.
The book is available without the tapes, but would not be recommended as Chinese tonal pronunciation is near impossible without them.
Living Language claims the college equivilant of two years of study...which seems about right given the depth of excellent coverage this set provides.
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Value,
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for Intermediates,
5.0 out of 5 stars great introduction to mandarin,
This review is from: Ultimate Chinese: Mandarin (Paperback)Humphries effectively introduces mandarin chinese to new and experienced students of the language. Humphries appropriately relates the material to excellent examples through repetition of learned vocabulary and verbal reinforcement. The Ultimate Mandarin Chinese uses over 40 lessons, english translations, writing of chinese characters, proper sentence construction, and a great glossary to convey the chinese language to the reader. It is definitely a necessary book for anyone wanting to learn and/or improve their knowledge of mandarin.
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Ultimate Chinese: Mandarin by Jennifer Humphries (Paperback - April 18 2000)
Used & New from: CDN$ 5.08