Beginner's Chinese

Book Review



Beginner's Chinese


Yong Ho


Hippocrene Books, Inc., New York, NY



Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

June, 2001


Beginner's Chinese is a course designed for English  speaking students of the Chinese language. This second printing is a paperback  book of about 175 pages.

Yong Ho assumes that the reader has little if any knowledge  of the Chinese language at the start of this program. He begins by explaining in plain language the features of Chinese that vary greatly from English. Then he goes on to demonstrating Chinese pronunciations, and finishes the introduction  by telling about the different systems of written Chinese.

Get more information about Beginner's Chinese at Amazon.comThe  course is divided into ten lessons that build upon each other. Each lesson is divided into several sections. Sentence constructions and conversations start each chapter followed by a listing of the main and supplementary words. He then follows this by a several page description of the intricacies and nuances of the chapter material and finishes each lesson with practice exercises.

Most of the sentence structures and practice exercises show  the Chinese characters for the sentence with the pinyin pronunciation below.  Each word or phrase is translated into an English equivalent except for the practice exercise sections. The answers for these exercises are contained in an appendix at the rear of the book.

Although there are some sections that might be considered  phrases for tourists, the bulk of the vocabulary and phrases is designed to  introduce the student to the basic concepts of the Chinese language. Along the  way, the author tries to help the student avoid common pitfalls in construction  of Chinese sentences. He also takes time to explain the importance of intonation  of the characters as it relates to the meaning of the entire sentence.

The most attractive feature of this course is that it clearly  explains complex Chinese grammatical concepts in a way that most will find easy and enlightening. Yong Ho steps the student through the intonations with clear descriptions of how to say the characters and even provides advice for those  that have trouble. He demonstrates the proper time to add or leave out words  based on the context of the sentence with a number of clear examples.

Like many book courses, the beginner will find it necessary  to obtain a recorded program to use in conjunction with the course. The pinyin pronunciation key is consistent throughout the book, but beginners imitating a recording will get better results. The clear explanations used in the course  make this book a good reference and workbook for any beginning student of the Chinese language.

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