Practical Chinese Reader

The other day I found some useful sites: one that contains all from the lessons and other material from Practical Chinese Reader with sound files; another which includes tests from that same textbook; and an online version of the New Practical Chinese Reader (Books 1, 2 and 3).

In my first year at university, the textbook I used was the Practical Chinese Reader, which is quite a good introduction to spoken and written Chinese. A big box of character flashcards is also available to accompany the course and I had them stuck all over my walls at one stage. The textbook follows the adventures of Gǔbō (古波) and Pàlánkǎ (帕兰卡), who are from an unnamed Eastern European country and who go to China to study Chinese. It was first published during the communist era when that sort of thing was more common.

I think using stories in language courses can be quite helpful – it makes them more interesting and can motivate you to continue studying so that you can find out what happens. What do you think?

One idea I have is to write a story which starts in English, then gradually introduces words and phrases in another language until by the end, it’s entirely in the second language. The Power Glide language courses do something like this that they call a ‘diglot weave’.

This entry was posted in Chinese, Language, Language learning.

9 Responses to Practical Chinese Reader

  1. Jonathan K says:

    The P.C.R. flashcards are arguably the most effective sold flashcards on the market.

    Another good textbook series is made by N.Y.U..

  2. Polly says:

    I think using stories in language courses can be quite helpful – it makes them more interesting and can motivate you to continue studying so that you can find out what happens.

    Teach Yourself Russian by Michael Frewin does start to develop a consistent set of characters toward the middle of the book and follows them to the last chapters of the book. I enjoyed it, but it was hardly a page-turner.

    Another program from Linguaphone even included some family drama with Valodya wanting to get married to Vika but his mother refusing and sending him off to his grandfather. Again, no page turner, but it helps get you into the language. Along the way, surprise surprise, they pass through many famous Russian cities and see lots of tourist sites.

    I think you’ve got a really good idea. I’ve toyed with the idea of developing a teach-yourself language program that used an interesting, fictional story. Starting off in English and adding foreign language is a novel approach. I don’t know if mixing lang’s is a good idea, though. I don’t want to see you get accused of ruining someone’s English! 😀

  3. GeoffB says:

    For stories in the target language, Latin seems to be first choice. The adventures of Horace in both the Cambridge and the Oxford primers aren’t half bad. But the tale of Paulus and Lucia breaking up an evil conspiracy at a monastery in Teach Yourself Beginner’s Latin takes the cake.

    I tried to do an English story fading into Indonesian once for my website/my own use. It’s hard! At the time, of course, I was thinking of the traditional reader that introduced new vocabulary so it was explained and carefully repeated, etc. Maybe, looking at The Linguist’s insistence on the importance of exposure, exposure, exposure, a less didactic approach would be in order – drop in words in the new language, context them, and keep going, while letting the reader keep track and figure it out.

    By the way, for those who want some conversational Italian thrown in with a decent English story, Grisham’s The Broker isn’t half bad. But I can’t imagine attempting even a chapter-length effort in the same style using a language I didn’t already know. Making such stories might be good for teaching other people, but I don’t know whether you’d learn a lot or just get frustrated if you were making them up for the benefit of your own studies. Best of luck.

  4. GeoffB–now, I have to ask about this monastery story: it wasn’t inspired by the book The Name of the Rose, by any chance, was it?

  5. Polly says:

    I just watched Eddie Izzard’s “Dressed to Kill” yesterday and I got a fair amount of unexpected exposure to French. About 20 minutes of the end of his show was almost entirely in French with a little English explanation. Then, I switched to an all French version of his act performed for a French audience. I felt like I could almost keep up even though I never studied French.
    I admit that I first watched with the subtitles, then re-watched without them. The French audience seemed to enjoy it and supplied the filler for Izzard’s occasional lexical gaps and gaffes.

    It’s almost as if the shared native language (English) made the foreign one seem more accessible.
    Maybe non-native speakers are more helpful to learners?

  6. renato figueiredo says:

    Thanks a lot for the clues. I was needing material in chinese.

  7. BG says:

    The Latin books I used for Latin I-II, the Cambridge Latin Course had a somewhat interesting story. My friend and I would read ahead, mostly for the grammar, but probably to some extent for the story. Our Greek book also has an OK plot. At my school Spanish and French use movies. The Spanish one “Destinos” is basically a soap opera in Spanish and many people don’t like it. In German we used an old Audio-Visual Program with Dialogs for the first two years. Some of you might recognize it: “Verzeihen Sie! Ah, du Walter du bist in Berlin. Ja, ich bin zur Messe hier…

  8. brian says:

    I come from BLCUP, publisher of New Practical Chinese Reader. Welcome to our website and find more Chinese learning books.

  9. Robert says:

    For Brian if your reading posts here.

    I’ve taken a lot (all) of the vocab from the New Practical Chinese Reader (all 5 volumes) and put it into a flash card program.

    Now this is for my own use and I’ve always presumed it would stay like that, but considering you actually give away the text on a website, including the dvd’s… do the publishers care if I give others access to just the vocab through a flashcard type program?

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