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on December 7, 1999
This book is excellent. It is short, lucid, inexpensive, portable. The format (chinese -- both characters and Pinyin -- in the left column, English on the right) allows for creative exercises. For example, one can cover the English and translate from Pinyin; cover the Chinese and translate from the English (what a better way to test 'thinking in Chinese'!); finally, cover the Pinyin and English and test the ability to read characters. The introduction on the structure of the Chinese language is one of the best I have read, perhaps second only to 'Chinese language; fact and fiction' by J. DeFrancis. Please note that this book may not be the best choice for the reader whose focus is pronunciation (no cassettes included) or writing (no stroke order). A few typos do not detract from the oustanding product.
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on February 1, 2003
I am a 30-year old ABC (aka American-Born Chinese). As a result, I have grown up in and have adopted American culture as my own. In fact, I staunchly maintain that my native tongue and culture are English and American, respectively. My primary connections to recent immigrants from China and Taiwan are racial and genetic.
While I have an decent grasp of the Taiwanese language which is that of my parents, I have barely any grasp of Mandarin Chinese except a word or two. At the urging of my Cantonese girlfriend, I have recently purchased this book to learn Mandarin which is the predominant dialect in Chinese society. I have found the book to be well-organized as it builds on the vocabulary and sentence patterns learned in earlier chapters. Exercises in each chapter provide ample opportunities to use your vocabulary in a variety of ways. The repetition really helps you get used to the vocabulary and structure. The Language Points in each chapter explain the rationale for the language's structure. Fortunately, structure in Chinese is usually simpler than that of English. Cultural Insights provide information about the people of China and show how language is used to show politeness and respect in certain situations.
All that being said, you cannot learn a language simply by picking up a book. No book will ever get you to pronounce the words correctly or get you comfortable with the language. No fault of the book but I find pinyin, at times, to be counter-intuitive. To really excel at the language, you have to hear and listen to it. Fortunately, my girlfriend is a living, breathing language lab. I also suggest practicing a little bit each day otherwise you will rapidly slip back down the learning curve.
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on June 27, 2000
I have not found such a book. The book gives such descriptive and comprehensive tuturials of basic Chinese grammmar with various vocabulary words and sentence structures follows, with plenty of exercises: conclude each of the eleven chapters of this book. A vast amount of useful phrases: in both Traditional and Simplified Characters, and pinjin, serves its purpose of being a phrase book, as well as a very comprehensive "mini textbook." Even though I am learning Mandarin at the Intermediate level now, this book serves as a great review of vital information on basic grammar and vocabulary. Note that even though this book thoroughly describes the two main pronounciation systems: Wade Gilles and Pinjin, a good introductory CD or cassette program would serve as a good prounounciation introduction. Despite that flaw, this book, to me, is a fine asset to me with imperative information of the introduction to the Chinese language (Mandarin). I hope that native speakers and other Chinese language students will agree.
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on March 25, 1999
I am preparing to leave for PRC and am doing all that I can to prepare for my travels. Without a doubt, Yong Ho's "Beginning Chinese" is the finest introduction to Chinese that I have encountered. I am currently taking a Chinese course through a local university and find that Beginning Chinese is far more useful than the required text for the course as well as the numerous other books that I have purchased. "Beginning Chinese" is presented in a scholarly and easy to use format that includes cultural insights are not available In other fine language books. I am compiling a list of books that I plan to bring with me to China and Yong Ho's "Beginning Chinese" is at the top of my list. I can not imagine anyone not benefiting greatly from it.
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on May 21, 2003
As a high school interested in learning Chinese, I tried a variety of books to begin learning with. After buying three different instructional Chinese books (most which advocated learning Chinese in small, quick increments) I noticed that they did not focus at all on the grammar of the Chinese language, they simply taught common tourist phrases. This is not the case with Young Ho's "Beginner Chinese" book. This book focuses on forming sentences in Chinese from the get-go, and includes many explanations as to why things are done in Chinese. The book also includes a plethora of exercises to pracitce with, as well as an answer key for all them. Combine that with a glossary, and the reader is set to learn Chinese in no time. The only complaint I have is that the book doesn't really discuss the pronunciations of the Pinyin system; this however is a minor detail. Once again, I strongly recommend this book to be the starting block for all who are interested in actually learning Chinese, and not simply tourist phrases.
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on April 13, 2004
For the complete novice, this is an understandable approach to Chinese grammar, but the lack of a pronunciation guide (which would take only a couple of pages, as in "Chinese in 10 Minutes a Day") is a serious lack - maybe the audio tape would remedy this. There is a good discussion of pronouncing the tones, but nothing about how to pronounce the consonants and vowels. For this reason, it's not a stand-alone guide; except for this (and I think it's a big "except"), it seems thorough and comprehensible.
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on February 1, 2003
The book promises the following (and definitely lives up to it): "This book has been written for the adult learner who has no background in Chinese, and for travelers who want to take a quick course on Chinese. . . By the time the student finished this book, they will have learned about 90 basic sentence patterns, 300 characters, basic grammar, and basic communicative skills." Even with minimal practice and application this still proves true.
Yong Ho is an excellent author. This is the best introductory Chinese course, I've come across thus far. His logic in the introduction is correct. Language should be heard and spoken first before it is ever read. Does anyone ever stop to think about the children of this world? We would all be lost if we had to read a language first. How does one read without exposure sound process or vocabulary (audio)?
Fall of 2002, I took a course at the local community college and this book was recommended. I still thank my teacher for her insight in selecting this book. I've always been turned off by language courses, particularly in academia, that were geared more to structured academics as opposed to the beauty of learning a language (the oral/conversational aspects). I've seen people take intensive language courses and even get degrees but still couldn't get past basic introdcutory conversation. Another aspect of learning a language is learning the culture of the people so you can understand the how and why of thought/speech patterns. This book does this at the end of each chapter with the wonderful cultural insights under "Language Point." There is definitely plenty of repetition which is essential for any type of learning. The only criticism is that the characters are in the simplified format,used mostly on mainland. I will now move on to the Pimsleur series, another highly recommended course, I've seen the results for myself. However, I'm forever grateful to Yong Ho for his delightful book.
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on January 26, 1998
I am a teacher of English as a Seccond Language and a serious student of Mandarin Chinese. I have also taught English in Beijing.Yong Ho's Beginner's Chinese is a great book! It is a must read for students of mandarin. It will be of benefit not only to beginners, but to all levels.It is organized into ten chapters which give dialogues and vocabulary for basic compentencies such as: greetings, shopping, location, etc. This is nothing earth shaking, but what make the book special are the sections in each chapter on "language points" and "cultural insights."Yong Ho explains Chinese grammar with great clarity and simplicity. His cultural insights are very good and ring true from my experiences in China.
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on June 27, 2000
I am highly impressed with the content of this book. Basic Chinese grammar is explained, thoroughly. Numerous vocabulary words follow (with characters and pinjin),along with intensive exercises and practice:integrate into a book of eleven Chapters of a fine "mini-textbook." Various useful Chinese (Mandarin) phrases are listed, along with info on when and how they are used. In other words, such various content that I listed makes this book a textbook, a useful phrasebook, and a travel guide. Also,this book serves as an intensive and comrehensive introduction to a beginner of this language. Even though I am studying Mandarin at the Intermediate level, this book serves as an excellent review of various grammatical concepts of Mandarin, along with proper usage of verbs and characters. Note that the characters are Simplified Characters. Also, even though the two pronounciation systems:Wade Gilles and Pinjin are well explained, I suggest an audio CD or cassette program, for pronounciation. Otherwise, I consider this book a fine asset to my review of useful and imperative grammar and aspects of Mandarin Chinese. I hope that other students and native speakers will agree.
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on January 4, 1999
I found this book to be absolutely invaluable during my sudden, 3-month transfer to Taiwan. It's very good for beginners but has one serious flaw that, ironically, would most affect those same beginners. Nowhere does it tell you how to go from the various written systems used to convey Chinese language sounds to the sounds coming out of your mouth. For example, it helpfully tells you that the pronoun "I" is spelt "wo" in the Pinyin system and compares that to the Wade-Giles system of Romanization. However no native English speaker would ever guess that the "o" in "wo" is pronounced as the "o" in "coffee" is: you would assume that it is the "o" in "zero" and hence be incomprehensible to the Chinese.
So be aware that, if you want to verbally communicate you will need another book that explains pronounciation: no big problem since every other book on this subject does do this.
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