Fundamental Spoken Chinese, by Robert Sanders and Nora Yao, introduces most of the basic grammatical patterns of modern spoken Mandarin in a carefully planned, graduated fashion. Every chapter follows the same organizational format and includes: key grammar points, new vocabulary items arranged by part of speech, sentence patterns, and four or five short dialogues illustrating contextual use of each new grammar pattern and vocabulary item. Non-technical explanations of grammar are written from the perspective of the English-speaking learner and are illustrated with multiple sentences in simple chart form. When appropriate, vocabulary and culture notes are provided, together with numerous drills, exercises, and in-class activities. Finally, English-Chinese translation exercises help determine how well students have mastered the chapter’s grammar and vocabulary.
“The course set out in Fundamental Spoken Chinese and Fundamental Written Chinese provides a thorough training in all the skills that a learner needs to reach a basic level of proficiency in Mandarin Chinese as well as a solid foundation for more advanced study. Fundamental Spoken Chinese is marvelously executed. The explanations of grammar and usage are exceptionally clear, the best I’ve ever seen in a textbook. The charts used to illustrate grammatical constructions are easy to follow, and the examples are well chosen for maximal clarity. The dialogues are naturalistic and well keyed to everyday situations, as is the vocabulary. Fundamental Written Chinese has many of the same virtues as its companion volume. Like Fundamental Spoken Chinese, Fundamental Written Chinese not only teaches the content of the lesson but also inculcates habits essential for further learning. The emphasis on explaining characters explicitly in terms of radicals and phonetics is an example of the kind of approach that makes for successful advanced learners. The two books are designed to be flexible so that teachers of various approaches can use them either to introduce the spoken and written skills simultaneously or to introduce writing after the spoken language has progressed to a certain level. Teachers and learners are provided with all the basic tools needed in one well-designed package.” —Mark Hansell, Carleton College
April 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3156-1 / $39.00 (PAPER)