Fundamental Written Chinese, by Nora Yao, Margaret Lee, and Robert Sanders, teaches both mastery of individual characters and reading comprehension. It introduces characters gradually, moving from simple independent characters to more complex compound ones. How characters are organized and constructed is taught through the liberal use of charts that display the structural and organizational regularities of each character, that is, its radical, phonetic component, shared graphic components, stroke order, and principles of proportion. This knowledge is then reinforced by exercises at the end of each chapter that require students to draw on the compositional information presented in the charts.
“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
June 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3157-8 / $39.00 (PAPER)