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Beginning Chinese: Second Revised Edition Paperback – Sep 10 1976
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Top Customer Reviews
And the advantages of this work far outweigh the disadvantages. With almost all Chinese language learning texts I've used, I've felt that I had been thrown into a sink-or-swim, suffering-is-good-for-you situation. Brute memorization seems to be the traditional Chinese learning method. In most modern textbooks there is little attempt to explain grammar, and when it is attempted, it is done extremely poorly.Read more ›
This provides all of that but, frustratingly, it's of no use.
My wife and her family are from China. I let my wife see this book once (the Chinese character edition), and she quickly scrunched up her nose and said, "Nobody talks like this!"
Later, when my wife was out, I tried the same test on my wife's aunt (who doesn't speak any English). She seemed reluctant to comment. I think she was afraid of causing me to lose face, so I showed her another Chinese text that contained hanzi (Chinese for Today, Beijing Languages Institute) and asked which one she thought was better. After about 20 seconds of page scanning she got very excited and said (in Chinese), "Oh, yes, this is the normal way people talk" (yiban de shuofa), and "you should study this one".
Unfortunately, Chinese for Today probably contains less than 10% of the total quantity of example text in Beginning Chinese, with not very useful vocabulary and skimpy grammar explanations, so I'm not a big fan of that one, either.
But despite the wonderful quantity of example material in Beginning Chinese and its sequels, it's of no use to me if what I'm getting so much great practice in is bad Chinese. I can come up with plenty of bad Chinese on my own. ;-)
To be honest, I don't know how much of the "bad" is just the Mainlander's reaction to Taiwanese Mandarin, but my wife and aunt (who like to watch Taiwanese dramas) claim "they don't even talk like this in Taiwan".Read more ›
I am even less satisfied with it nowadays, with the large amount of language study material now available from China. While some of the material printed in China can be a bore, some of it is really extremely good - Beverly Hong's "Situational Chinese" springs to mind as perhaps the best book on colloquial Chinese I have yet found. I'd suggest to the would-be learner to review the material available from Beijing before investing any of the books in the old Yale Asian series.
This is the best learning textbook for Chinese that I've come across. Granted, it's somewhat dated, but the presentation of the grammar is clear, and the drills are first-rate. (important note: buy the tapes that accompany the book; try the language lab at Cornell, or Far Eastern Publications, in Yale. The language lab at Seton Hall University used to sell them as well).
There are 24 lessons, and the common theme throughout is the experiences of an American student in Taiwan. Each lesson begins with a dialogue, and is followed by new vocabulary and what DeFrancis calls "sentence build-up"; the new vocabulary is introduced first in small phrases, then in full sentences. Each lesson introduces 4 or 5 grammatical patterns, with illustrative sentences. The lessons also have pronunciation practice, addditional drills, dialogues, puzzles, etc. Again, the tapes are excellent, and indispensable.
The book is geared toward spoken Mandarin; all the Chinese is in pinyin romanization. If you're interested in the written language as well, there's his 2-part Beginning Chinese Reader that excellent, as well.
If you're serious about learning Chinese, want to know more than a few phrases, and you're willing to invest the time and energy to learn it well, it would be hard to find anything better than this.
Most recent customer reviews
I have been studying or trying to study Chinese for many years now. Most books seem more geared toward travel conversation(how much does it cost? etc). Read morePublished on Nov. 6 2001
It is a good book for a beginner learning traditional chinese. The use of sentence patters and drills really helps to develope grammer. Read morePublished on May 10 2001 by Derek
Although a few points could be updated (for example, ni hao a? is no longer common usage), this does not detract from it's usefullness as a learning tool. Read morePublished on July 22 2000
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