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Beginner's Chinese by Yong Ho is a best-selling paperback published by Hippocrene publishers. It contains 326 pages of instruction in Chinese Mandarin by Yong Ho, an expert in language learning who taught English at the University of China. The package also contains two audio CD's which contain conversational Mandarin spoken by native speakers. CD one contains ten practical conversations that are explained and paralleled by the book. CD two focuses more on Mandarin pronunciation. The book contains detailed and engaging explanations of how to write in Chinese Mandarin using simplified traditional Chinese characters and also Chinese pinyin. There is also useful information in the Cultural Insights section, which provides you with exciting and engaging insights into Chinese cultural practices and social norms. So, is this book worth purchasing for someone beginner to learn Chinese Mandarin?
If you are on a budget this book is worth considering. At less than twenty dollars, it covers the basics in an engaging and educational way. It offers you a thorough course in the basics of language learning: speaking, listening, reading, writing, pronunciation and grammar. Each lesson follows logically from the previous lesson and the explanations are clear and engaging. The Cultural Insights section is perceptive and intriguing by educating you in Chinese cultural practices and norms. The themes in Beginner's Chinese are practical and conversational, so they will help you survive if you happen to travel to a Mandarin speaking city or decide to work there. Themes covered include: Greetings, Names, Places, Family, Time, Nationalities and Languages, Money and Shopping, Food and Eating, Travel, and finally, Weather. Focus is given to pronunciation of vowels and consonants as well as writing in Chinese characters and in pinyin.
Beginner's Chinese by Yong Ho is not for the language novice. It is better suited to someone familiar with the complexities of language and language learning. The book contains detailed descriptions of complex grammatical concepts. This might be better suited to a linguistic expert rather than a layman who is coming to language learning for the first time. Furthermore the method used is better suited to those who prefer self-study, as the book is instructional and heavy on grammatical explanations. If you prefer to learn in a more engaging, classroom like style, there are other packages (particularly computer software programs) that might offer you a more dynamic learning experience. As it is, Beginner's Chinese is for a beginner with a fairly advanced knowledge of language systems in general. There is a lack of support for complete language novices so this book is perhaps far too daunting for those simply wanting survival Mandarin.
Overall, Beginner's Chinese is a thorough and scholarly language learning book. It is absolutely worthwhile for someone who has some knowledge of Chinese and the complexities of grammar. You are guided by a book and an audio cd which is not a particularly dynamic mode of learning and may quickly prove boring or too academic for those wanting to simply learn conversational Mandarin. This package would make a great complement to other language learning material. If you are still unsure, you can look inside the book on Amazon and see for yourself if the style is indeed too academic, too dry or too complex. If you are not afraid of a lot of reading and grammar explanations, then don't shy away from this book; if you are, then consider something else.
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