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Beginning Chinese Reader, Part 2: Second…

Beginning Chinese Reader, Part 2: Second Edition (Yale Language Series)

by John DeFrancis

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Intelligent, Accomodating Method to Learn the Writing: The DeFrancis series of books on Chinese includes "Beginning Chinese", "Character Text for Beginning Chinese", the two volumes of "Beginning Chinese Reader", and I think an intermediate book as well. While I am not thrilled with "Beginning Chinese" as a text (you can read my review on that book), I think that the readers are admirable. They are designed to teach the writing system on its own, independent of the course material in "Beginning Chinese", and yet there is a certain thematic continuity between the two books, so that they can be used as a supplement to each other. The Yale series used the same process in their earlier set of books, which are something of a classic in the field.The books start off teaching you ten characters a lesson. They build up from the simpler ones to the more complicated, and also drill you on forming words from the characters you already know (most Chinese "words", if you can use the term, consist of two characters, each with a meaning of its own). DeFrancis apparently produced the book "Character Text for Beginning Chinese" in addition to the Readers because some educators balk at the system of teaching the writing system independently, preferring to teach their students the words they learn to speak as they go along. I've tried both ways, and I really believe that it's a mistake not to treat the writing system as a separate subject with beginners. You can probably teach yourself to write from these books without too much trouble. However, learning to write Chinese is an aesthetic experience as well as a linguistic one, and I don't know how authentic your handwriting will be without a teacher. DeFrancis takes it about as far as you can in a book, reviewing the traditional ways that Chinese children are taught to write the component parts in a balanced way. The grammatical demands are minimal, since it's assumed that you're using other material for that part of the learning process. On the whole, a very creditable effort, which is no doubt one reason why it has survived as a standard text for so long.
  iayork | Aug 9, 2009 |
Chinese Reader
  Budzul | May 31, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300020619, Paperback)

This second edition, like the earlier first edition, introduces some of the main varieties of Chinese as found before and after the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949. While continuing to stress the basic importance of the traditional usages, such as the regular characters to be found in all materials published before the adoption of the simplified forms in 1956 and still in use in some areas, the present revision goes further in contrasting variant usages and in providing additional material relevent to the PRC.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:40 -0400)

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