Beginner's Chinese with 2 Audio CDs (Paperback)
Author/Publisher: Yong Ho
Format: Book + CDs
List Price: $25.95
- Paperback: 173 pages
- Publisher: Hippocrene Books; Book & CD edition (April 18, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN: 0781810957
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces.
- Average Customer Review:
based on 10 reviews.
|53 of 53 people found the following review
By far the best books for learning Chinese, June 5, 2005
If you are serious about learning Chinese, this book and its sequel
"Intermediate Chinese" by Yong Ho, head of the Chinese program at the
United Nations, are just about ideal. They are by no means phrase books,
but form a basis for a thorough but practical study of Chinese. I came
to the study of Chinese some twenty years ago because my work took me to
China. I have since been six times for visits of two to four weeks, but
have never become really proficient. I have bought a number of texts and
worked through carefully what was previously the best of them,
"Practical Chinese Readers I." I therefore started Ho's second volume,
but I found his explanations so wonderfully clear that I went back to
read his "Beginner's Chinese".
These books are a work of art and science and are incomprably better
than anything I have previously found. Ho has put his Ph.D. in
linguistics to good use. He has listened to his English-speaking
students and understood their problems. He has also thought about his
native language and culture and come to a deep understanding of it which
he is able to convey in clear concepts and good English. His exercises
show how well he understands the problems of his students. There are a
number of exercises which ask "What is wrong with this?" followed by
Chinese sentences that make exactly the mistakes I tend to make.
Each book has ten lessons centered on very practical situations, such as
getting something to eat. The new speech patterns and vocabulary of each
lesson are carefully introduced, then applied applied in practical
conversations that provide just the right amount of drill and
repetition. They, like nearly all Chinese in the book, are given in
simplified characters, pinyin (the phonetic script), and idiomatic
English translation. Besides the conversations, there is expository text
for practice in reading using the characters and words that have been
introduced in the conversations. The "Cultural Insight" passages are
original and sometimes stunningly perceptive. There are answer keys to
the exercises given in both pinyin and characters.
By all means get the editions with the CD. The recordings are clear
though not dramatic in the sense that they do not give the illusion that
you are listening to a live conversation.
These books use simplified characters only. They do not show how to
write the characters. That is not a big problem, for there are several
good books that teach only that. Like all Chinese textbooks of my
acquaintance, these say nothing about how to find characters in a
dictionary. The best advice on that subject is to find the "Field Guide
to Chinese Characters" on the Internet.
|15 of 15 people found the following review
Using Beginner's Chinese as an introductory conversational text.,
October 9, 2005
Beginner's Chinese has some good points. It comes with two CDs
featuring native speakers -- one for the lessons and one for Chinese
syllable practice. Simplified characters and pinyin are provided
together for all material in the book. Each lesson has a good collection
of exercises for translation, ad hoc response to questions, and grammar.
A Cultural Insights section that addresses some aspect of Chinese
society caps each lesson. The book has a pinyin-Wade Giles cross
reference that is very helpful for English-speaking students.
But there are definitely areas for improvement. This is a second
edition. The third edition could be a great book. First, the CDs. The
CDs are indispensable, but each lesson takes up only a bit over three
minutes. No time is left between sentences for the student to practice
pronunciation. (The words can be pronounced if the student hurries.) And
then there is the organization. On the CDs, first comes vocabulary, then
sentence patterns, then conversations. In the book, the order is
sentence patterns, conversations, then vocabulary. It would be nice if
they were consistent and went through the lesson in order. Much more use
could have been made of the CDs, but here we get into a critique of the
In general, there is not enough practice material. For example, in each
chapter there is a list of "supplementary" words and expressions. These
are not used in the spoken exercises except to pronounce them once on
In the place of more practice material each chapter has extensive
"language points" where the author sometimes belabors subtle linguistic
points that, in my opinion, could be done without in an introductory
text. Here also is where speech patterns are discussed. In the actual
Sentence Patterns section introducing each lesson, each "pattern" is
given once, leaving the student to infer what the patterns are. Most
have the impression that the pattern sentences are just a collection of
unique sentences. Here is where more material should be added by giving
additional examples of each pattern where such is possible.
1. Remove the "supplementary" words and expressions section and just
include it in the lesson vocabulary if individual words are important
enough to include.
2. Make explicit what the pattern is for each pattern sentence.
Provide up to ten or twelve examples with each pattern using all the
vocabulary introduced to that point.
3. Remove some of the show-off linguistics discussions and save them for
a class on Chinese linguistics.
4. Include all the expanded practice material on the CDs with time for
the students to repeat each sentence. Since this may disrupt the
continuity of the Conversations, I would suggest recording that section
twice: first at normal conversation speed without breaks for
comprehension practice; then a second time with a pause after each line
so students can practice pronunciation. If something has to go, do away
with the Chinese syllable practice on the second CD, and continue the
lessons on that CD. It's more important for the students to get their
syllable practice on their actual vocabulary rather than be able to
recite the universe of abstract ba, bo, bi's.
If you are an instructor, realize that you are going to have to make up
additional material to provide pattern and "supplementary" vocabulary
practice and listen to student complaints about the CDs. And hope the
students don't lose their way or become discouraged trying to plough
through the abstruse Language Points.
Works Excellent With Behind the Wheel Chinese, March 26, 2006
I love Yong Ho's approach. I owe a good deal of what I know in
Chinese to this course.
I found that this particular course worked very well with Behind the
Wheel Chinese which does not come with any written material at all.
I have used other Behind the Wheel products and find that they work well
when used with other top-notch courses which enhance areas that Behind
the Wheel leaves out.
The plus to Behind the Wheel is the technique that enhances sentence
formation along with the two native Mandarin speakers.
Used together, Beginner's Chinese and Behind the Wheel Chinese form an
unbeatable combination. I have been getting great results.
|5 of 5 people found the following review
Good Book, March 14, 2006
I have the book but just bought another copy just to get the CDs. I
was a little afraid of buying it after reading the negative reviews
about the sound on the CDs but took a chance. I would highly recommend
buying both the beginners and intermediate editions ( I have both ).
Pros: It is very inexpensive. The topics covered are relevant, the
vocabulary is good and the CDs are very useful. The CDs contain all the
vocabulary and dialogues from the book. All of this is packed into one
CD ( The other CD is used for tonal practice ). The speech pattern on
the CDs is at the normal speaking pace. I find this to be very useful
preparation for listening to normal paced speech. There are no sound
gaps for one to practice responding to the dialogue but I prefer to have
all my lessons conveniently on one CD. Also with repetition, one can
anticipate and respond along with the speaker ( kind of like singing
along to a song on a CD ).
Cons: The sound quality of the CD is not as loud or clear as Pimsleur.
There is a some background noise. However, the main problem is that the
recording volume is very low. This is easily solved by turning up the
volume. The pronunciations were clear and the accent, although not
Beijing, seems metropolitan. You do not have to speak in a Beijing
dialect to sound educated.
The plastic CDs sleeves on the inner cover of my copy were placed
incorrectly ( sideways ). The CDs themselves were also much thinner than
normal CDs. The sleeves and sound quality of the CDs were of much better
quality in the intermediate edition. I made back up copies of the CDs
just in case. These minor glitches did not detract from the outstanding
overall value of the books.
I own both of Yong Ho's books , Liz Scurfield's book ( 2 CDs ) and
Pimsleur 1-3 ( 48 CDs ). I would start with Yong Ho and then move on to
Liz Scurfield's book before even considering Pimsleur. Comparatively,
Pimsleur is very expensive, repetitive and SLOW; one only knows very few
BASIC phrases after spending $225 on Pimsleur I ( 16 CDs). Unlike Yong
Ho's or Liz Scurfield's books, Pimsleur does not explain the rationale
behind the sentence patterns..the listener is left to figure it out
subliminally through repetition...like a baby learning a new language.
Yong Ho and Liz Scurfield's books are bargains and well paced for an
|0 of 43 people found the following review
Fast delivery!, September 28, 2005
I am extremely happy with my purchase because I received my order
within 4 days! That's exceptionally fast based on my previous used book
purchases from Amazon.
|12 of 12 people found the following review
Great content, poor audio, September 20, 2005
This is one of the best beginner's language books I've seen. In each
lesson, new words are introduced in small groups (nouns, verbs, etc.),
and then they are immediately shown in action (sentence structure,
conversation). The phrases even from lesson 1 can be used by tourists.
Unfortunately, as I was looking forward to hearing the sounds of the
Chinese language, so different from any of the European languages, I was
disappointed by the quality of the audio. The CD sounds like a tape
recording made many decades ago. The speakers talk with dull, impassive
voices giving no impression of the musicality and melodiousness of the
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