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Tales and Traditions: Readings in Chinese Literature Series (Volume 1) (Reading in Chinese Literature) Paperback – August 29, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Reading in Chinese Literature
  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Cheng & Tsui; Bilingual edition (August 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887275346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887275340
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Veale on January 2, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Volume 1 of this four volume set provides 23 stories for reading practice. The book cover describes this volume 1 as advanced-beginner. Each story is one page long with one page in simplified Chinese and one page using the traditional characters. Don't expect too many pages of actual reading practice as there are only 23 of them. There is also a section for vocabulary words and questions about the story. There are also about 50 pages where the stories are repeated with the characters and pinyin. These pages are probably not useful for very many people since the western learner should avoid pinyin in reading as much as possible. One strong point of this book is that these stories are deeply rooted in Chinese culture and those raised in mainland China are very familiar with these stories so there is a cultural learning aspect to this book. Overall this book contains some good reading practice and I look forward to reading volume 2.
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I have been studying virtually on my own for four years or so. From time to time I get discouraged with learning Mandarin particularly at my advanced age. I had hit a real tough point a few weeks ago and read online a student who shared same and had broken out of the "Slump" by beginning to read more. So, I bought the book. I am DELIGHTED with this product. First Cheng Tsui is dependable and produces a good product. This is particularly good as it teaches Chinese idioms and stories used in the HSK exams. So, a student getting through the four volumes would ace the HSK's for sure. The stories are interesting and there are just enough new words to not overwhelm (one of the challenges of studying the usual Mandarin text books of varying authors, I am using Integrated Chinese Level 2 book 1 now and some lessons have 50 new words, when you might have just learned 45 new words and 90 new characters on the LAST lesson. So, it becomes overwhelming, a bit). This book is good! A great addition and I am now on Lesson 3 and have learned a LOT already.
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I ordered this book to supplement my private Chinese lessons and when I showed my Taiwanese teacher, she was very impressed. Not only because the stories are so well rooted in Chinese culture, but because the tales are told both in simplified and traditions characters. That was a plus for me because she teaches both and I enjoy learning both. (Taiwan uses traditional and mainland China only uses simplified.) She also told me something interesting in that the Chinese "titles" of each tale are specific idioms in Chinese that signify the moral of the story and are used in everyday language to express that moral. Kinda interesting!
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Many modern Chinese textbooks focus on day-to-day situations (like ordering food at a restaurant or mailing a letter at the post office) and don't spend much (if any) time on introducing the stories behind the four-character phrases that are frequently used in written Chinese. This is problematic as a student moves into intermediate-level reading material because these phrases will start to appear more and more frequently

This first volume of the series says it's for "Advanced Beginning Students," but there's actually quite a bit of vocabulary that's not usually found in beginner-level textbooks, so an advanced beginner student would have to make fairly heavy use of a dictionary while reading these stories (in addition to the book's supplied vocab lists). That being said, the grammar seems to be at an advanced beginner level. Overall, the book might be better suited for low-intermediate students looking for reading material that is interesting but not overly challenging.

The book conveniently gives each story in both traditional and simplified characters and also supplies a few discussion questions. The back section of the book has each story written out with pinyin above ever character. Thus, a teacher could use this book with low-beginner students for basic pronunciation practice even if the students don't know the actual meaning of most of the characters.
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This has proved to be just difficult enough for me working on my own to supplement my Chinese classes. The arrangement of the book is especially good since I can't cheat and refer to English vocabulary on the same page, but need to make a special effort to look things up. New vocabulary is conveniently close to the story, but words I should know require some effort. The translations of the stories at the end of the book are general, which I think is also good. The stories themselves are often wry, and offer a very interesting glimpse of Chinese culture.
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