Beginner's Chinese with 2 Audio CDs, Second Edition Paperback – Oct 1 2010
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About the Author
Yong Ho received his Ph.D. in anthropology and linguistics, with a specialty in Chinese anthropology and language, from Columbia University. He served as Director of Language at the China Institute in New York City and has taught Chinese at various institutions in the U.S.
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The font is much larger and bolder (good for me). The number of pages went from 173 to 326 but the wording of the texts looks the same (so the lessons haven't changed- also good for me).
It now includes writing practice sheets, in the book. You would probably want to scan these out.
At least two of the cultural essays have been rewritten, in one case to make it more practical, and in another case to bring it up to date.
I had two other very well known and excellent works covering similar subject matter (basic conversation), but Yong Ho was the one I liked best and chose to use.
(One of the other reviews, the one currently given as "most helpful critical review", is dated 2005 but refers to a second edition. That must be a mistake. This second edition is just out, Oct 2010.)
So, I greatly revise my original review, written below and given only one star. The first chapter can seem overwhelming but it isn't really if one seeks a bit of guidance from a native speaker. If you can persevere to the second chapter, the rest of the book shouldn't be very difficult. After completing the first three chapters I was able to have limited conversations in Chinese. I'm happy with my progress and this book is exactly what I need. This IS a good book.
I am giving it 4 stars rather than 5 because the dialogue on the CD moves to each successive phrase too quickly. There is no time to even repeat the phrase before the next phrase has begun.
The book is written with the idea that it is used in a classroom setting, which for undisciplined learners may be frustrating. It also assumes that you have a firm grasp on the technical details of the English language, so if you struggled in high school English with things like verbs, adverbs, participles, sentence structure, etc. you will probably find the discussion frustrating.
The CD is intended to be listened to while you read the chapter exercises. It's not a pronunciation CD; personally I read the lesson with it, and later just turn the CD on in the background at work so that I can get used to hearing the language. Again, BEGINNER Chinese. You aren't going to be an expert speaker at this level, you just need to learn the foundations of the language and the sounds. To that end, this book is great.
It's a great introductory book that is inexpensive, and by the end of it you will know if you want to continue studying the Chinese language.
These books are a work of art and science and are incomprably better than anything I have previously found. Ho has put his Ph.D. in linguistics to good use. He has listened to his English-speaking students and understood their problems. He has also thought about his native language and culture and come to a deep understanding of it which he is able to convey in clear concepts and good English. His exercises show how well he understands the problems of his students. There are a number of exercises which ask "What is wrong with this?" followed by Chinese sentences that make exactly the mistakes I tend to make.
Each book has ten lessons centered on very practical situations, such as getting something to eat. The new speech patterns and vocabulary of each lesson are carefully introduced, then applied applied in practical conversations that provide just the right amount of drill and repetition. They, like nearly all Chinese in the book, are given in simplified characters, pinyin (the phonetic script), and idiomatic English translation. Besides the conversations, there is expository text for practice in reading using the characters and words that have been introduced in the conversations. The "Cultural Insight" passages are original and sometimes stunningly perceptive. There are answer keys to the exercises given in both pinyin and characters.
By all means get the editions with the CD. The recordings are clear though not dramatic in the sense that they do not give the illusion that you are listening to a live conversation.
These books use simplified characters only. They do not show how to write the characters. That is not a big problem, for there are several good books that teach only that. Like all Chinese textbooks of my acquaintance, these say nothing about how to find characters in a dictionary. The best advice on that subject is to find the "Field Guide to Chinese Characters" on the Internet.
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