Chinese – ‘New Practical Reader’ (update 1)

books

Well it’s been at least two weeks since I started the traditional route with Chinese, i.e. the textbook approach. I recently forwarded a couple of questions to ask Benny Lewis just how much SRS he does and how often he uses grammar books. In addition, I also asked about his thoughts on shadowing. I will do a separate post on shadowing and Benny’s response. For the moment, though, I ‘m just going to do a short review of the resources I’ve been using recently. In particular, I think the New Practical Reader textbook and workbook are great. The books ‘teach’ through listening, reading and writing (pinyin and Hanzi). As a package both books can take a great deal of time to get through a chapter. For me I’m sometimes taking more than a day because I want to use the next as an active review – have I just been copying sentences or do I ‘understand’ what I’ve been writing?

What do you get from the textbook?
Listening – Not just to the script but also to tones with some supportive comments on how they are produced. I still feel that the McGraw ‘Pronunciation’ book excels in this. Nonetheless, still the textbook and workbook offers invaluable listening practice and consistently introduces new things (e.g. Half third tone).
Reading & Listening – scripts that support the grammar and vocabulary covered. At the moment the grammar isn’t burdensome. I don’t find I’m sat there trying to figure out structures and decipher linguistic jargon. Instead a few things are covered simply but are consistently reinforced through the texts. It’s almost as if I’m figuring it out rather than I’m passively copying or making notes.
Writing – Hanzi is introduced immediately. In particularly the characters used in the texts are reinforced through the writing practice which is particularly supported in the workbook. Other writing includes completing dialogues which is really good for pinyin and highlighting any pronunciation problems.
I’m only a few lessons in at the moment but it is going well. That said, I am working much more on total immersion in the language (largely through listening and reading of podcasts). This way on a day-to-day basis I’m not trying to figure every grammatical construct but actually becoming familiar with grammar by simply being immersed in regularly. Slowly I’m beginning to see how certain things go together and when I pick up the grammar books this adds clarity to something I’d already noticed. Let’s see how it goes for the next two months.
Next post: Shadowing
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