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Mandarin Update - Frances Bea
Mandarin Update
It's been a while since I posted about my Mandarin Chinese study. It's been interrupted a number of times, so I'm progressing slower than I might, but I am progressing.
I'm in the middle of the Pimsleur Mandarin III program. I'm still really enjoying the Pimsleur approach, which allows me to make progress in my spoken Mandarin separate from studying the written Chinese characters. When I don't have a lot of time to study I can still do the Pimsleur while driving. I can now say things like
  • Beijing is cooler than Hong Kong.
  • There's a notebook under the table. Is it yours?
  • From ChangAn Avenue you can get to the American Embassy on foot.

Learning the written Chinese language is a lot like studying another language simultaneously. Because I've been able to separate my written from my spoken study it's been easier to let the written study lag. I'm still on the same level one book of written study. I'm constantly impressed that as my spoken fluency progresses, this book continues to use grammatical constructions I've never seen before, even in the basic levels. My progress in this area has improved since I've gotten the PDA-based PlecoDict software. Its flashcard feature is pretty intelligent, and progressively shows cards less frequently as you consistently get them right, more frequently if you get them wrong. The new version of the software is supposed to be much more sophisticated, and should be released in the next couple of months.


2 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 22nd, 2007 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Read Chinese

Hi Frances,

I worked my way through all 3 courses of Pimsleur Mandarin Chinese a year ago. I can't say enough good things about it. However, I had not heard of the book you mentioned "Read Chinese".

So I went down to our local literary establishment: Powell's Books and they happened to have a copy on hand. I found that this book is published in 1953, uses traditional characters and some weird system of phonetic representation (I assume it is yale). The format is very strange because they assume a certain level of mandarin and then just start mixing the yale and characters. By mid book it is all characters.

I am interested to try it out since I learned traditional characters already from a Taiwan text book. But this is not the book I would recomend for learning characters.

The best book for learning characters is "New Practical Chinese Reader". This book uses pinyin, simplified characters, introduces the language in a very well orgnized format and has some excellent audio material that you can purchase separately.

Anyway, thanks for bringing my attention to a book that has an important role in academic history. -Eric
frances_bea From: frances_bea Date: July 23rd, 2007 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Read Chinese

Thanks for the suggestion. It appears that no one has anything bad to say about the "New Practical Chinese Reader".

My selection of "Read Chinese" was driven be the fact that the most recent edition has both traditional and simplified characters, and both Yale and Pinyin Romanization. I wasn't thrilled about the Yale Romanization since it isn't used much these days, but because it was designed (more than any other Romanization standard) to be understood phonetically by English speakers, as I was just beginning I found it easier to recognize the words I knew in the book because the Yale was present. Now that my understanding of Pinyin is improved it isn't helping as much, but I don't mind being exposed to it.

The fact that the author is too generous in guessing at my broader understanding of sentence construction slows me down a lot on my way through all of the practice sentences, but even that is useful time spent. I think I'll stick with the book I have for now, though the Read Chinese series isn't long and I'll have to switch to a different series in the end anyway.
2 comments or Leave a comment