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Chinese the Easy Way (Easy Way Series) (Paperback)

Chinese the Easy Way (Easy Way Series) (Paperback)
Author/Publisher: Philip F. Williams Ph.D., Yenna Wu Ph.D.
Format: paperback
Emphasis: NA
List Price: $16.95

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Editorial Reviews
Book Description
This lively volume makes speaking and understanding Chinese relatively easy for English-speaking learners. After outlining the sound system of Chinese, the book introduces basic sentence patterns and key vocabulary through a wide variety of practical, true-to-life, and often humorous conversational situations. The book's final chapter introduces readers to the use of written characters. Practice exercises.

Language Notes
Text: English, Chinese

Product Details
  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Barron's Educational Series (April 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0764106597
  • Product Dimensions: 11.0 x 7.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds.
  • Average Customer Review: based on 2 reviews.

Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:

Best explanations of Chinese grammar I've found, February 23, 2005

Reviewer: C. Sahu "Cathy Sahu" (Southern California)

This book is not meant to be a primary textbook -- it's meant to supplement your main text. It's all in pinyin, though in the back there is a listing of all the vocabulary's Chinese characters (traditional and simplified). There is also a Chinese to English and an English to Chinese glossary. Each chapter has several sets of exercises with the answers in the back of the book.

The short dialogues that begin each chapter are modern, humorous, and emphasize the sorts of things you would need to be able to say if you were visiting China. (I'd like to rent a room, Where is the bathroom?, etc.) There are lots of notes on cultural points like festivals, food, what it's like for American Chinese kids coming to visit the Old Country. The book is pleasant to read.

Best of all, though, and the main emphasis of the book, is the grammar teaching. It is very, very clear. The authors really understand comparative English/Chinese grammar. A quote is the best way to illustrate this. From Chapter 9, on a certain type of verb compound (the Chinese seem to pile up one verb after another in a sentence -- one of those mysterious tendencies that drive you crazy when you start studying Chinese):

First they give examples: "Ni ting dong le Yingwen." "Ta kanwan le neiben shu." Then they explain: "Two independent verbs are sometimes placed together in a relationship of verb and complement to express a more specific kind of activity that either verb could express alone. In such a compound, the first verb is considered the ordinary verb and generally indicates the major activity being described. The second verb is regarded as the complement of the first verb and states the result of the major activity; for these reasons, it is known as the 'resultative complement.' "

They then explain the examples: "For instance, the act of understanding, "dong," can result from either the activity of listening, "ting," as in "tingdong" (to understand through listening), or the activity of reading, "kan," as in "kandong" (to understand through reading)...."

They then proceed to explain "tingdedong," "tingbudong," etc.

There are also excellent explanations of the uses of that troublesome particle "le."

I am presently studying Chinese on my own and am using this book to supplement my main text, John DeFrancis' "Beginning Chinese" series. I would recommend both of these texts to anyone who is really motivated to learn to speak Chinese properly. Note: I took the HSK (Beijing's Standardized Test for Chinese) last year after studying primarily with the "Integrated Chinese" series and scored -- ouch -- 63, not even good enough to earn a Basic Level 1 Certificate. Since then, I've switched over to DeFrancis and also am using "Chinese: the Easy Way" off and on. In July, when I get my new score, I'll try to add it to this review so you can see if these books really are any good!

Note again: Well, it's several months later, and I got a 105 this year on my HSK. That's not bad (I hope) considering I'm only at Ch. 4 in DeFrancis' Intermediate Chinese so my vocabulary is still very small. I got low scores in both oral and reading comprehension (22 and 26), which I think is because my vocabulary is so poor. My grammar score was much better, at 57. (As far as I can figure out, 57 puts me at the 60th percentile; in other words, the upper half.) So I'd say my plan of shoring up my grammar foundation by using "Chinese: The Easy Way" and doing lots of extra translation with the DeFrancis Series is paying off.


2 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

Good for beginners, May 8, 2002

Reviewer: VeeKoo (Sunnyvale, CA United States)

Excellent introduction into chinese pronounciation and easy to follow flow of new language elements. Anyway, you need an audio casette / CD or a chinese speaking friend in order to make your pronounciation understandable. This book focuses on speaking and understanding chinese; characters are just scratched from the surface. For reading / writing real chinese (not pinguin) you need another book(s).


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