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Remembering Simplified Hanzi: Book 1, How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Chinese Characters
Remembering Simplified Hanzi: Book 1, How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Chinese Characters
by James W. Heisig
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.69
39 used & new from $20.93

10 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-intentioned, but lacking in usability, March 15, 2009
I feel as if Heisig took a good idea from his experience with the Japanese language and tried to superimpose it onto Chinese without much thought. The results are mixed. Many of his visual mnemonics (a charred computer on fire for the character for 'black') are as clever and effective as they were in his books on Japanese kanji, but this book offers very little support for spoken Chinese. I realize this issue is addressed in the beginning of the book, but why wouldn't the authors at least include the pinyin next to the each entry (the reader is instead expected to flip to the phonetic index in the back of the book)? I would think that the fact that in Chinese (as in Japanese) many radicals/primitives in the characters encode phonetic information so that hanzi with the same radical are often pronounced similarly would only help Heisig's mnemonic system. Instead, we are told in the book's introduction that by the end of the book, we will be in a similar position to Japanese students of Chinese. That is, we will be able to recognize the meaning of 3,000 odd characters without being able to pronounce them or communicate verbally. This seems to be extremely inefficient to me: if my goal is to speak Spanish, I don't want to have to master Latin first just so the words will be "familiar" to me.

The pronunciation and tones of Mandarin Chinese are frequently cited as two of the most difficult aspects for foreign learners of the language. Heisig's neglect of these areas makes his book well-intentioned and usable, but certainly short of its potential.

Nathan Dummitt
author of Chinese Through Tone & Color (Chinese Edition)
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 2, 2010 1:03 AM PST


Remembering Traditional Hanzi: Book 1, How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Chinese Characters
Remembering Traditional Hanzi: Book 1, How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Chinese Characters
by James W. Heisig
Edition: Paperback
Price: $27.55
20 used & new from $21.69

16 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good attempt, but lacking in usability, January 4, 2009
I feel as if Heisig took a good idea from his experience with the Japanese language and tried to superimpose it onto Chinese without much thought. The results are mixed. Many of his visual mnemonics (a charred computer on fire for the character for 'black') are as clever and effective as they were in his books on Japanese kanji, but this book offers very little support for spoken Chinese. I realize this issue is addressed in the beginning of the book, but why wouldn't the authors at least include the pinyin next to the each entry (the reader is instead expected to flip to the phonetic index in the back of the book)? I would think that the fact that in Chinese (as in Japanese) many radicals/primitives in the characters encode phonetic information so that hanzi with the same radical are often pronounced similarly would only help Heisig's mnemonic system. Instead, we are told in the book's introduction that by the end of the book, we will be in a similar position to Japanese students of Chinese. That is, we will be able to recognize the meaning of 3,000 odd characters without being able to pronounce them or communicate verbally. This seems to be extremely inefficient to me: if my goal is to speak Spanish, I don't want to have to master Latin first just so the words will be "familiar" to me.

The pronunciation and tones of Mandarin Chinese are frequently cited as two of the most difficult aspects for foreign learners of the language. Heisig's neglect of these areas makes his book well-intentioned and usable, but certainly short of its potential.

Nathan Dummitt
author of Chinese Through Tone & Color (Chinese Edition)
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 31, 2013 4:19 AM PDT


Ultimate Chinese (Mandarin) Beginner-Intermediate (CD/Book) (Ultimate Beginner-Intermediate)
Ultimate Chinese (Mandarin) Beginner-Intermediate (CD/Book) (Ultimate Beginner-Intermediate)
by Jennifer Humphries
Edition: Paperback
20 used & new from $9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Capable instuction, but expensive for what it offers, October 1, 2008
The dialogues in Ultimate Chinese are natural-sounding and current (unlike many outdated textbooks for Mandarin Chinese) but the high price of this book/CD set makes it a considerable investment in 2008, when an abundance of audio and video resources for learning Mandarin Chinese are already available online at little to no cost. Also, serious students of the language - people taking a college-level course, for example - will find the lack of emphasis on reading and writing frustrating.

Nathan Dummitt
author of Chinese Through Tone & Color


The Chinese Language: Its History and Current Usage
The Chinese Language: Its History and Current Usage
by Daniel Kane
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.26
74 used & new from $3.74

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource for linguists and serious students of the language, September 5, 2008
Daniel Kane's "The Chinese Language" is presented as a linguistic survey of Chinese, but also includes a wealth of commentary on teaching and learning Chinese as a second language. While Kane's linguistic analysis is thorough and interesting and his explication of the language and its dialects refreshingly up-to-date, I was disappointed to see a rather dated approach to methods of study for the CSL learner. This book was published in 2006. Are learning radicals by rote and using classic dictionaries from the 70s and 80s still the most effective means for studying Chinese? What about electronic dictionaries (with hand-writing recognition that makes searching for a character by radical almost obsolete) or online learning resources that include video and audio? Surely Kane is interested in using these more modern methods to teach Chinese as a second language. Aside from this minor flaw, this is a wonderfully readable and detailed introduction to the language for anyone considering studying, teaching or working with modern Chinese.

Nathan Dummitt
author of Chinese Through Tone & Color


4CDs FOR NEW PRACTICAL CHINESE READER  Vol 1 (Chinese Edition)(Audio CD only)
4CDs FOR NEW PRACTICAL CHINESE READER Vol 1 (Chinese Edition)(Audio CD only)
by .
Edition: Audio CD
Price: $22.75
48 used & new from $4.40

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid textbook, August 28, 2008
The New Practical Chinese Reader series takes extensive CSL research conducted at Beijing Language and Culture University and interprets into a compact, well-designed text that's suitable for University level classes, but may be to sophisticated for the high school level. Each lesson includes detailed grammatical analysis and useful tips for reading and writing Chinese. Overall a solid beginner's textbook.

Nathan Dummitt
author of Chinese Through Tone & Color


The First 100 Chinese Characters: Simplified Character Edition: The Quick and Easy Way to Learn the Basic Chinese Characters (Tuttle Language Library)
The First 100 Chinese Characters: Simplified Character Edition: The Quick and Easy Way to Learn the Basic Chinese Characters (Tuttle Language Library)
by Alison Matthews
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.75
65 used & new from $1.37

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to writing, August 24, 2008
This book is most useful for students with no exposure to the Chinese writing system. After a clear and thorough introduction to the history and development of Chinese characters, students are introduced to 100 basic characters - a nice attainable number for the first year of high school instruction or the first semester at the university level. Each entry includes several example compounds (very important for Chinese, in which disparate characters can be combined discretely to form unexpected words) as well as nice, large boxes for practicing. While the Matthews have made a nice introduction to Chinese characters, more serious students of the language will outgrow it quite quickly. Their newer book Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters Volume 1: A Revolutionary New Way to Learn and Remember the 800 Most Basic Chinese Characters provides several hundred more characters (without the practice space) for the more ambitious.

Nathan Dummitt
author of Chinese Through Tone & Color
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 8, 2010 8:59 PM PDT


Teach Yourself Mandarin Chinese Complete Course Package (Book + 2CDs) (Teach Yourself . . . Complete Courses)
Teach Yourself Mandarin Chinese Complete Course Package (Book + 2CDs) (Teach Yourself . . . Complete Courses)
by Elizabeth Scurfield
Edition: Paperback
21 used & new from $16.02

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable text for casual learners, August 22, 2008
This book would be a reasonable resource for tourists or other casual learners of Chinese. It provides a good number of natural dialogues in a variety of situations, accompanied by simple and straight-forward grammatical explanation. Scurfield and Song's book - like many others in the Teach Yourself series - packs a lot of information into a compact and convenient format that is a reasonably solid introduction to the language. A lack of discussion about Chinese characters, and a tendency for only the most superficial analysis of grammar and language structure makes this book less than useful for more serious students of Chinese.

Nathan Dummitt
author of Chinese Through Tone & Color


Modern Chinese: History and Sociolinguistics
Modern Chinese: History and Sociolinguistics
by Ping Chen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $36.49
43 used & new from $25.80

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good overview of the history of the language, August 22, 2008
Chen does an excellent job of tracking the development of Modern Chinese not only in the mainland - where language policy reform, character simplification, and drives to increase national literacy rates make for interesting reading - but also in Taiwan, Singapore and overseas Chinese-speaking communities. The author is clear and thorough in his analysis of dialects as well as Standard Mandarin, and disparate influences (such as Japan) are discussed in detail. While I am happy to see that the book uses proper pinyin romanization for Chinese terms, the only improvement I could suggest would be to include the hanzi (character) equivalent as well to assist second-language learners of Chinese. A good resource for both linguists and students of the language.

Nathan Dummitt
author of Chinese Through Tone & Color
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 17, 2012 6:21 AM PDT


Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide (Modern Grammars)
Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide (Modern Grammars)
by Claudia Ross
Edition: Paperback
Price: $39.05
19 used & new from $35.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for both beignners and more advanced learners, August 22, 2008
Claudia Ross improves and expands the work she did for Schaum's Outline of Chinese Grammar with a thorough and easy-to-use grammar guide for both beginning and intermediate learners. Chapter titles separate the language into clear and concise entires that are easy to navigate and provide hundreds of example sentences. "Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar" is exhaustively cross-indexed by chapter number to help learners distinguish between multiple uses of the same word/character. Overall, an excellent resource for serious students of the language!

Nathan Dummitt
author of Chinese Through Tone & Color
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 8, 2009 8:42 PM PDT


Chinese Primer: Character Text
Chinese Primer: Character Text
by Ta-tuan Ch'en
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.08
65 used & new from $2.98

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear and thorough coursebook, August 21, 2008
Ch'en and Link's Chinese Primer series is an excellent introduction to the language. Detailed and clear grammatical explanations complement texts that give individual attention to each of the four areas of foreign language learning: reading, writing, listening and speaking. However, the best feature of Princeton's texts is the dialogues: rather than tread through the same-old tired sequence of "greetings", "where are you from?", "how old are you" etc., the authors creatively use the most basic vocabulary and sentence patterns to create conversations that are humorous and full of life.

Nathan Dummitt
author of Chinese Through Tone & Color


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