I’m very disappointed. The SUPER TYPHOON MEGI, which was heading towards Hong Kong two days ago changed its course and is now about to hit the North Guangdong province. Xiamen is going to get a lot of rain… and today is sunny in Hong Kong! I love typhoons and I was planning to spend a full day revising my Chinese while stuck at home. So here I am instead, planning to go swimming… Tough!
I thought I would post a few words about the material I find very useful to learn to speak and read Mandarin (not an easy task, as many of you would know!).
For learning to write and read characters, I find the following books most useful:
250 Essential Chinese Characters for everyday use (Vol 1 and 2) by Philip Yungkin Lee (from UNSW, SYDNEY!), Tuttle Publishing. These two books are excellent to learn to write the characters and understand their meaning and how they were created. The books present both the simplified version used in Mainland China, and the complex version used in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
To remember as many characters as possible, I use flashcards. Chinese in a Flash (Vol 1, 2, 3 and 4) by Philip Yungkin Lee,Tuttle Publishing, is perfect. I highly recommend them. They allow for quick self testing.
I also use Reading and Writing Chinese (simplified character edition), by William McNaughton, Tuttle Publishing, which presents over 2000 essential characters for reading everyday Chinese. The layout is beautiful, the blue ink for characters works well, the order of strokes is clearly presented and the different meanings and pronunciations are explained. This one complements nicely the material above.
For grammar, I use Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide, by Claudia Ross and Jing-heng Sheng Ma, Routledge, Bilingual Edition.
For Vocabulary building, I like the visual Chinese English Bilingual Dictionary (Dorling Kindersley). It displays photos and pictures, with arrows pointing to the different elements, the Chinese and English words, and the PinYin correspondence.
I also use Schaum’s Outline of Chinese Vocabulary, by Yanping Xie and Duan-Duan Li, McGraw-Hill Publishers.
It’s hardly enough and it does not replace face to face conversation, but it’s a good start. I’d better get going though, so I’m going to sign off now. Enjoy your weekend!