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Chinese for Beginners.
on September 7, 2010
Dreaming in Chinese is a the story of how learning the Chinese language gives one a glimpse in the the Chinese way of life. It is written in a very straightforward style but is not without charm. Fallows can back the rather whimsical look at one of the world's hardest languages for western language learners with the poignant knowledge of a trained linguist. Her stories, which might seem to be light on content, are actually quick revealing and she chose each chapter's focus well as taken together, they do a decent job illustrating several key points of the Chinese mindset.
While language learners and linguists will enjoy the book, it might seem to others that the book is somewhat shallow. The author's life abroad, while a definite challenge, can come off sounding rather privileged. Learning a language is not easy and Fallows doesn't portray it as such, but she constantly references their travels and multiple homes which can make the trials of learning Mandarin seem like a luxury rather than a necessity.
As another reviewer mentioned, her presentation of Chinese varies and the lack of consistency can be disruptive to the flow of the text as well as the whole of book. If possible, the Chinese should be presented with the character, pinyin, and translation.
The book is very readable, mostly enjoyable, and well thought out.