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Interactions I: A Cognitive Approach to Beginning Chinese (Paperback)

Interactions I: A Cognitive Approach to Beginning Chinese (Paperback)
Author/Publisher: Margaret Mian Yan, Jennifer Li-Chia Liu
Format: paperback
Emphasis: NA
Level: Beginning
List Price: $39.95

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Detailed information
Editorial Reviews
Language Notes
Text: English, Chinese

Product Details
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (November 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0253211220
  • Product Dimensions: 11.0 x 8.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds.
  • Average Customer Review: based on 5 reviews.

Spotlight Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful:

Traditional, simplified, pinyin and English, June 5, 2000

Reviewer: Chris Genly (US)

I think this book is great. Each dialog is given four times. Once each in traditional writing, simplified writing, pinyin, and English. This really helps in learning to read. Each chapter has the same set of sections. Some of the sections are on:

The dialog


How to write characters, including stroke order.


Explanation of grammar. I find these very helpful.


Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Best I've found so far., February 2, 2005

Reviewer: John Broglio (Florence, MA United States)

Recommended. I have switched to Interactions/Connections textbooks after using the Integrated Chinese course for a semester. Please see my full review and a comparison of the two courses under the textbook "Interactive Chinese by Yao and Liu".

Interactions I is challenging: before you tackle it, I absolutely recommend Pimsleur Mandarin I audio full course. And you will need a tutor or a class for any Chinese textbook. Classes are a lot of fun, but check the textbooks they are using before you sign up -- Chinese textbooks seem to be about 50 years behind other foreign language offerings. I have not tested the Interactions audio CDs ($100 from Indiana University Press).

Textbook courses typically assume you will continue your study in a language school in China/Taiwan/Hongkong, so they prepare you for student life. If you want Chinese just for travel, especially business travel: go with the Pimsleur full courses: Mandarin I, II, III. They are the BEST purely audio (speaking, no reading) courses. For just speaking Chinese, there is no textbook course that will take you as far and as fast as Pimsleur: you won't be able to read Chinese street signs, but you will be comfortable asking directions!


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Spin your wheels, January 19, 2005

Reviewer: Another Chinese student

First the good:

The book has an excellent character reference with stroke order for key words in each chapter.

The cultural notes in each chapter are interesting and informative.

Then the bad:

Tries to do far too much, too soon. A beginning foreign language student needs to use their time building a foundation of the language that they can add to in later semesters. Huge vocabulary lists of words that students won't remember and aren't important for basic communication and learning of sentence patterns simply cause frustration and needless wasting of study time doing look up drills.

Sample dialogs SHOULD be useful. They can demonstrate the usage of key grammar points and vocabulary. The dialogs in this book are so cluttered with excessive vocabulary that one can easily spend hours just playing find the obscure words instead of getting a feel for how the language is used. I realize Chinese is difficult and a time consuming 5 credit course, but having to encounter "leading actress" or "United Nations" in dialogues really defeats the purpose of them. I suspect not one student in my class would have been able to say "vinegar" or "to be natural" in Mandarin Chinese a week after class ended, but they sure had fun turning the pages again to look up that strange character so they can get through the dialogs. Hey we can say "athletic field" so we're almost fluent!

Early language learning should focus on the core vocabulary. Let the students repeat and drill early and gain a feeling for the language. Don't believe me? Take a student who's completed two semesters with books like this and another who's listened to a complete 90 lesson Pimsleur course... drop them off in the foreign country and watch who can communicate. One has tried to memorize huge vocabulary lists, another has practiced over and over with the most useful words.

Pass on this book, unless you need to be able to say "pumpkin pie" in Chinese to feel like a proper beginner.


4 of 16 people found the following review helpful:

Recommended by my girlfriend from Taiwan, January 5, 2002

Reviewer: Donald E. Wright (Detroit, MI. USA!)

I bought this book today, as recommended by my girlfriend who is a Taiwan native. Meeting her in June of 2001, I became interested in learning the Chinese language. This would be my second foray into attempting to learn a foreign languge, as my first one, was back in the spring of 2001 with the Russian language.

As before, I went to bookstores, and looked and studied the different methods available. I found what I thought were some good methods, but thought I would wait until she came to visit me so she could advise me of the best one.

She came here over X-Mas, and we looked at many books in the bookstores. This is the only one she recommended.

Now, I cannot rate it just yet, but I will give it 5 stars based on her recommendation.

She chose it because she felt that it had the best presentation of the traditional and simplified characters, their pinyin pronunciation, and explanatory meanings. And she liked the fonts.

It is so fascinating in trying to learn a new language. It makes you think, about how did you learn your native language in the first place. In my first attempt to learn a new language, the Russian language, I was faced with some soul searching about this. I realized that aural assimilation and imitation, was probably the earliest learning method. Then, the study of the written character and alphabet, and word formation, then grammar.

So, probably no one method can cover it all, but a combination of methods would be comprehensive.

I guess it depends on your agenda and time frame.

I had purchased the "Chinese Now" by Transparent Language, I thought it was a good aural and imitation learning program, but my girlfried didn't like it. One thing I realized, is that it doesn't show you characters, only pinyin equivalent pronunciations.

Anyway sorry for rambling on, but I will let you know more after my studies, on how this particular book works out for me!


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

Simplified characters hard to distinguish, June 1, 2001

Reviewer: Stacie (Kentucky)

I'm going to be living in China in the coming year, and I was hoping to use this text as a means to get some knowledge of the language beforehand. I will be living in Beijing, where the simplified characters are popular. In contrast to the previous review, I found distinguishing the simplified characters from the traditional to be quite difficult, and I'm somtimes left to wonder if they are even there at all.

It is also not set up in a very easy to learn format: they start you out from the beginning with entire dialogues in Chinese characters (albeit, they then repeat the conversations in Pinyin and English) so they don't offer much in the form of grammar instruction, just jumbles of words with no explaination as to why or how the sentence is structured in that way.

One last qualm: The workbook has many activities involving the tapes for the books (which are not included, and I wouldn't even know where to find).

As a plus, it does give you the selected characters in each chapter with the number for each stroke, in addition to aides for remembering the meaning. It also offers a section on Chinese culture at the end of each chapter.

All in all, this would be a good book for use in the classroom with a teacher who would be able to answer your questions.


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