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Teach Yourself Mandarin Chinese Complete Course Package (Book + 2CDs) (Teach Yourself . . . Complete Courses) 2nd Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 063-9785386582
ISBN-10: 0071430334
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Elizabeth Scurfield

is a member of the Chinese Department at the University of Westminster, London.

Song Lianyi

teaches Chinese at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 2 edition (April 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071430334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071430333
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,545,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. M. Nelson on June 5, 2005
Verified Purchase
Teach Yourself Chinese contains a major instructional flaw in that there is no correlation between the PRONUNCIATION GUIDES in the BOOK and the PRONUNCIATION EXAMPLES AND PRACTICE on the CD. Though the manual seems to do a good job of explaining the sounds and tones associated with spoken Chinese, the CD is not correlated with any written form. Therefore, when listening, one cannot determine whether a sound is a slight variation of the previous sound or a new sound that is much like the previous sound. Not providing associated pinyin text of at least the first part of the CD is pedagogically irresponsible. Be warned, you will be frustrated with this program if you think it will provide you a clear association between the written form and the spoken form of the examples provided.
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I am a student of multiple languages and have recently purchased this book. Now there are divided opinions about the "teach yourself (insert language)" series of books. Well, I like some of them, especially this one. One must realize that each of these books is written by a different person and that the entire serires is not written by the same people. This particuliar book is invaluable to me in my study of chinese. The one bit of advice I have is this: if you are not good at picking up foreign pronunciation, especially non enlgish/non romance languages, then this is not for you. THis book has a very small section on pronunciation so this is your book only f you can grasp the sound of Chinese easily. OVerall, I REALLY reccomend this bok for the beginnin Mandarin student.
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Teach Yourself Chinese is an introductory book for English speakers wanting to learn Mandarin. It covers a diverse set of words and situations; just enough to help get the reader acquainted with a small conversational vocabulary. Every chapter begins with a brief dialog in Chinese, followed by an English "walkthrough" describing the nuances and grammatical rules applied in the conversation. To help with pronunciation and listening, the accompanying CD's are handy.

While this book is a great starting place for beginners, it has many drawbacks. It is deficient in teaching how to read and write in Chinese. The first several chapters do not even make use of Chinese symbols, instead relying solely on pinyin spellings. When symbols are used, they are only the simplified set of characters and not the traditional characters used in Taiwan and Hong Kong. I believe that integrating reading and writing is essential for memorization of Chinese vocabulary.

Another drawback is despite all the author's efforts to teach pronunciation and tonal usage, using this book without a real Chinese tutor is not enough. Most of the setbacks of this book are not its fault, but the fact that the difficulty of Chinese pronunciation and learning how to write make it impossible to learn without a mentor. Perhaps the biggest problem is that "teaching yourself" Chinese using any method is extremely difficult. I recommend buying this if you are interested and very determined to learn Chinese, but make it only one tool in your arsenal of learning materials.
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After reading several of the reviews, I purchased this product. I should have read more reviews. There is NO correlation between the text and the CD's. I would have preferred to learn from a class and teacher; failing that, a text and related CD's would be the next best thing. This book and audio CD set was useless. The text alone may be fine for those who do not need the audio component, but Chinese pronunciation is notoriously difficult for native speakers of English. As a linguist, a foreign language teacher, and a teacher of English as a foreign language, I would recommend students look elsewhere for a comprehensive Chinese language program.
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By Nerthus on September 11, 2006
This book is designed for a student in sinology and not for a businessman or for a tourist. Some remarks:

a) The sentences to learn are not always useful. Examples:

"you are really great. Your pronunciation is very clear with no foreign overtones"

"I want to buy a train ticket to Moscow"

"My fiancé likes to recite Tang poems"...

b) No chapters about airport, computer of internet.

c) The first Chinese character is taught page... 133!

d) Advices are not up to date (Examples: "although the word comrade is still used", "always buy whenever you see something you like you may never see it again" ...)

This book is not a good choice.
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I came to this book from a slightly different point of view than some of the other reviewers, since I studied Mandarin for four years in college (mostly using the admirable and still very worthwhile DeFrancis series). Since that has been a while ago I got this book and CD to pick up some contemporary usages and keep my pronunciation up to date and I was very well satisfied in both these aspects. One thing that impressed me in the very thorough section on pronunciation was the author's discussion of the four tones of Mandarin and common mistakes made by beginners. Other sources of potential problems are also very well addressed, particularly compounded verbs of motion, and resultative/potential compounds, which often convey meanings that are pretty idiomatic and differ from what a beginner might expect from the components of the compound. The course transitions very smoothly from the early lessons where pinyin is used almost exclusively to the later sections where characters are introduced and it is shown how to write them. At the end of the book there is a section on Chinese poetry- a very unusual addition to what is an elementary course, but something should give a great deal of satisfaction to a student who has made it all the way to the end. There are both monologues and dialogues in the lessons that cover a lot of everyday situations, although sometimes the English translations are pretty free and I've thought that the author probably should have offered a more literal rendering as well- it's always good to know what the words mean. That's a pretty minor objection, though. This course is a great value and any student who completes it should be very well positioned to move on from there.
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